Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, highlighted key partnerships, faculty successes over the past year, and what’s ahead for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) during her college hour presentation on Sept. 28.
Green started by praising the faculty and staff for all of their contributions to college excellence. As she travels around the campus, state, and nation, she said she receives numerous comments of praise about the quality programs, outstanding individuals, and professional leadership at the CVM. Distinction is found across all of the missions of transformative learning, discovery and innovation, and outreach and engagement.
Vital connections are key to success. One of the novel collaborations Green talked about is the college’s partnership with West Texas A&M University (WTAMU). Both CVM and WTAMU share residence in the state, ranked No. 1 in most livestock entities, including cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, yet WTAMU is located in the Texas Panhandle within the livestock/feedlot industry epicenter of Texas and the nation.
The WTAMU-CVM partnership is a natural alliance that joins forces to serve the veterinary profession, pre-veterinary, veterinary, and graduate students, and the livestock industries, she said.
Dr. Dee Griffin and Dr. Dan Posey, director of the program and academic director, respectively, have successfully launched the effort with WTAMU and TAMU faculty. The long-planned summer internship program has been implemented to complement the CVM curriculum food animal track, the Food Animal Production Tour, and the externship program for veterinary students.
Griffin’s outreach efforts have been noteworthy, partially evidenced by his being honored with the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame’s Leadership Award, and Posey’s recruitment and mentorship efforts contributed to the largest cohort to date of WTAMU students being admitted to the CVM. Additionally, the number of food animal veterinarians graduating from the CVM is increasing.
The CVM and WTAMU team, led by Griffin, successfully landed a $243,500 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) that will be used to support the development and initiation of seven veterinary-centered programs in West Texas aimed at rural veterinary medicine.
Most recently, Dr. Paul Morley, a nationally and internationally recognized epidemiologist, accepted an offer to join the team as director of research.
The program will soon be housed in a $22 million Veterinary, Research, and Outreach Center (VERO), funded by PUF, with full backing of Chancellor John Sharp, the TAMUS Board of Regents, President Michael Young, Provost Carol Fierke, and WTAMU President Walter Wendler.
The Texas Cattle Feeders and Panhandle and High Plains veterinarians are equally supportive. The VERO, with an expected completion date of 2020, will be located adjacent to the new, $48 million WTAMU Agriculture Sciences Complex and a new Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic lab.
“The CVM-WTAMU partnership will serve as a functional super highway between the Panhandle and College Station,” she said. “It will leverage the strengths of both universities. The VERO includes capabilities for teaching/learning, research, and outreach, with direct connection via technologies.
“A CVM faculty member asked me if part of the veterinary curriculum could be offered in VERO. The answer is yes, the potential exists to offer the first two years of the DVM curriculum there as well as some clinical rotations,” she said. “Are we going to? That’s up to you. If that’s something that you want and the curriculum committee thinks we should look into, we’ll do so. This building will allow many creative opportunities across all missions.”
In the area of research, Green detailed some of the projects currently being conducted by CVM faculty, including the work of the Superfund Research Center, as well as some of the major research awards faculty have received for projects that span the effects of exercise on the heart, to Angelman Syndrome, to antimicrobial resistance, to clinical trials for the Dog Aging Project being conducted at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). The latter is a $22 million, multiyear, collaborative project.
“The research being conducted within the CVM is substantive and spans basic discovery to clinical trials,” she said. “The CVM Research Advisory Council has been formed to advance the research enterprise. Research areas of distinction are being identified with the graduate program aligned according to these research areas, as Dr. Bob Burghardt and his team presented in a recent CVM College Hour. Graduate students are also excelling—so, success breeds success as our programs keep growing and excelling.”
Recent faculty awards include Albert Mulenga and Michael Criscitiello, both of whom were awarded a 2018 Presidential Impact Award; Dickson Varner, who was inducted into the University of Kentucky Equine Research Hall of Fame; Annie Newell-Fugate, who was selected as Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar; and Gerald Parker, who was asked to chair the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.
In undergraduate education, the Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) Program just completed an external review with glowing comments. The relatively new BIMS Advisory board is being chaired by Dr. Mark Vara, a CVM alumnus and veterinarian who has been committed to raising money for BIMS scholarships.
“They’re passionate, they’re active, and they’re devoting a lot of time and energy to BIMS,” Green said. “Additionally, (associate dean for undergraduate education) Elizabeth Crouch did a superb job helping plan and implement the McAllen campus, which opened this fall with about 50 students, which was more than we had estimated.”
Green also commented on the importance of diversity, climate, and inclusion in the CVM.
“Every individual who crosses our threshold should feel welcome, included, and fully supported to achieve their dreams here,” she stated with conviction. “The CVM is not a place where people treat each other any other way.”
Looking to the future, Green discussed a fundraising campaign for a new Small Animal Hospital in which the CVM has contracted with the firm, Advent, well-known for inspiring supporters.
The third annual Veterinary Innovation Summit is scheduled for April 4-7 and is shaping up to be a fantastic program, certain to earn comments consistent with others for VIS (“a Disney Wow”).
Jeremy Kenny has joined the CVM team as program coordinator for Veterinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is devoting considerable effort to getting to know CVM faculty and staff and becoming familiar with the multitude of innovation and entrepreneurial activities across campus and beyond. One of his major goals is to be a connector and foster creative opportunities, providing valuable assistance to faculty, when needed.
Dr. Lori Teller joined the faculty as the college’s first telehealth veterinarian. She will help establish this innovative service at the VMTH for the benefit of faculty, students, referring veterinarians, patients, VMTH health, and the veterinary profession.
“We’re the first in the nation to have a full-time telemedicine faculty member,” Green said. “Telehealth is predicted to provide better care to more patients less expensively, and is already doing so in human medicine. It is essential that our students graduate with these capabilities. Much groundwork has been laid within the profession and recently the AAVSB released a statement on telehealth that included language supportive of establishing the VCPR (veterinary, client, patient relationship) remotely, when appropriate. This is a huge step forward.”
The future is bright for the CVM. Green commented on what a privilege it has been to serve as dean of the CVM, a reflection brought on again by entering her 10th year as dean.