The 2020 Outstanding Alumni and Rising Star award recipients from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) will be honored during a virtual ceremony on April 16, 2021, following the 2020 ceremony’s cancellation.
In 2020, the Outstanding Alumni award recipients were Dr. Henry Carwile ’65, Dr. Erin Fleener ’97, Col. Steven T. Greiner ’96, Dr. Edward McGruder ’92, Dr. Glenn Rogers ’80, and Dr. Gordon Pirie ’71. The Rising Star award recipient was Dr. Clayton McCook ’09.
Outstanding Alumni are selected each year to recognize those who have reached a level of success in their professional careers that brings credit to both the individual and the CVMBS . This award is the highest honor bestowed by the college and honorees may be graduates of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) professional program, graduate academic programs (M.S., Ph.D.), or Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) undergraduate program.
Established in 2013, the Rising Star Award seeks to recognize graduates of the CVMBS who have completed their education within the last 10 years. These outstanding former students have made significant professional accomplishments early in their careers including public service and volunteer activities that serve to positively reflect upon the college and Texas A&M.
Dr. Henry Carwile ’65
Dr. Henry Carwile’s early interest in the role of immunology in health and disease research has culminated in a career that merges his veterinary training, family farm, and emerging polyclonal antibody technology.
What began as a small endeavor in several converted dairy barns has grown to include 50,000 sq. ft. of space for animal housing and handling facilities, offices, and laboratories, with a 20,000 sq. ft. expansion under way.
This venture now known world-wide as Bethyl Laboratories, Inc., opened on his family farm in Montgomery, Texas, in 1972.
“Henry is a subtle, rare talent, and self-made entrepreneur who grew up in the small Texas town of Montgomery where he remains today, providing leadership for community development and well-being, a superb example of the American private enterprise system,” one nominator said.
Carwile began his education at Texas A&M University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal sciences in 1964 and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1965.
After leaving the CVMBS, Carwile married and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Following his military service, he continued his education at the University of Florida and Tulane University, receiving Master of Science degrees in pharmacology and immunology in 1971 and 1972, respectively.
“These two educational experiences, along with the exceptional education Henry received at Texas A&M, prepared him for the risky and arduous task he undertook when he returned to Montgomery and set about to generate custom-designed antibodies for scientific research,” one nominator said.
“Carwile’s curriculum vitae is not one of the usual academic accomplishments,” another nominator said. “Rather, his CV is one of an accomplished scientist-inventor-entrepreneur who facilitates, accelerates, and internationally impacts research and science for human and animal medicine.”
In addition to Carwile’s educational and professional achievements, he has been a devoted member of his community for many years as a 4-H leader, member of the Montgomery ISD school board, community economic and business developer, director of the Texas Farm Bureau, and founding member of the Montgomery County chapter of the Young Farmers of America, among others.
“Throughout his journey, Henry has remained the same soft-spoken, kind person I grew up with,” a nominator said. “He is a man of impeccable integrity. He is an outstanding graduate of the CVMBS and is certainly most deserving of this prestigious award.”
Carwile and his wife, Sally, have four children, two of whom are involved in the family business.
“Although growing their business was first and foremost in their minds and efforts,” a nominator said, “Henry made time to become involved in their children’s lives and in the lives of others in Montgomery County.”
Dr. Erin Fleener ’97
Dr. Erin Fleener has remained close to Texas A&M University throughout her professional career as a medical oncologist and researcher, but her impact has benefitted the medical community on a much larger scale.
Graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences, Fleener went on to earn her Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Since 2017, Fleener has been the chief of staff for CHI St. Joseph Health in Bryan, Texas, while also serving as a medical oncologist at The Cancer Clinic at St. Joseph’s since 2006. In 2017, Fleener was elected president of St. Joseph’s medical staff.
“Dr. Fleener truly exemplifies what a physician should be,” said one nominator. “Not only is she an excellent oncologist, but she is also someone who cares deeply about her patients. She has a deep empathy for them.”
Fleener also remains involved in academia, holding a position as associate clinical professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center since 2009. She is vigorously involved in research and has contributed to more than 27 medical studies, several of which are ongoing.
“It is hard to overstate the meaningful contributions that Dr. Fleener has made within the medical community,” one nominator said. “Her professional accolades help describe her hard work, tenacity, and determination when it comes to medical research and patient care.”
Those accolades include the Texas Monthly “Texas Super Doctor Rising Star” Award in 2012, 2013, and 2014, in addition to the Texas Monthly “Texas Super Doctor” Award in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Fleener was named “Best Oncologist” by the Best of Brazos committee in 2017 and 2018.
In addition to her professional work, Fleener remains involved in her community, sharing her knowledge with student organizations, such as the Texas A&M Premedical Society, and at conferences, such as the Surviving and Thriving Breast Cancer Conference, which boasts more than 800 attendees. In 2013, Fleener was awarded the Girl Scouts of Central Texas “Woman of Distinction” Award.
“It is rare to see such a compassionate and hard-working person with the leadership qualities that Dr. Fleener possesses,” said one nominator. “I have no doubt that Dr. Fleener will continue to positively influence Texas A&M University, the Brazos Valley community, and those battling cancer throughout the world.”
Fleener, her husband Greg Crisp, and their four children live in College Station.
Col. Steven T. Greiner ’96 (awarded in absentia)
After a short stint in a private practice in his hometown of Cuero, Texas, Col. Steven T. Greiner answered the call of duty and, following a family history of service, has enjoyed a long and illustrious military career.
Greiner completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1996 after earning two bachelor’s degrees, one in animal science in 1990 and another in veterinary medicine in 1993, and a Master of Veterinary Public Health, all from Texas A&M. His education did not end after graduation, however; in 2014, he received a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Today, he serves as the 27th chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, which plays a vital role in maintaining and sustaining the health of animals, our service members, and their families in our nation’s defense. Officers under Greiner’s leadership play essential roles in food safety and security, animal care, and veterinary public health, as well as research and development for our armed forces.
“Col. Steven T. Greiner has brought great honor and national recognition to the CVMBS through his outstanding military career and distinguished service to our nation as a graduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from our college,” one nominator said.
Throughout his decades of service, Greiner has been stationed throughout the United States, in Germany as commander of Public Health Command Europe, and has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Jordan, Yemen, and Kuwait.
“I have witnessed first-hand his untiring commitment to educating veterinary students with up-to-date information regarding scholarship and career opportunities in military veterinary medicine and public service,” one nominator said.
In his more than 20 years of service, Greiner has received numerous military awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service medals.
“Through hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence, Col. Greiner rose through the ranks and assumed increasing leadership roles and responsibilities during an era of the most intense combat deployments in the history of our Armed Forces,” another nominator said.
Greiner’s abilities as a leader and his skills as a veterinarian have provided many opportunities to advance his career and benefit others as he continues to concurrently serve as director of veterinary services for the U.S. Army Medical Command.
“Throughout his career, Dr. Greiner has reflected well on Texas A&M University and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,” one nominator said. “He has maintained the highest degree of integrity and demonstrates the Aggie Core Values on a daily basis.”
Greiner and wife Deanna live in Bulverde, Texas; they have four children.
Dr. Edward McGruder ’92
Dr. Edward McGruder has spent his career diving deeper and deeper into the world of animal health, working to better the lives of animals from a molecular level.
A lifelong Aggie, and a son and nephew of veterinarians, McGruder attended Texas A&M University for his Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and PhD in microbiology and immunology.
His education has culminated to a career in pharmaceutical research and innovation, including almost 23 collective years with Elanco Animal Health, during which he has focused on the development and commercialization of pharmaceutical, anti-infective, and vaccine products that serve both companion animals and livestock.
“Dr. McGruder is methodical in his research approach and does not cut corners,” said one nominator. “His work is thorough, and his production is robust and excellent.”
This mindset is reflected in the breadth of ventures McGruder has pursued. In addition to his previous positions as advisor and chief medical officer at Elanco, he currently serves as global head of research and development and innovation on the executive team at Argenta Limited, another animal health company.
“Edward brings energy, deep knowledge, and leadership to Argenta’s R&D business and our interactions with our customers,” said Ben Russell, CEO of Argenta. “His lifetime of experience in animal health, from following his father into veterinary science to leading people at Elanco and Argenta, brings value and perspective to our leadership team.”
McGruder has previously served as president at Prokaryon Technologies, an entrepreneurial portfolio company of Baylor College of Medicine, and at FMS Ventures, Inc. His involvement in the early development of these companies demonstrates his passion for discovering progressive solutions in the field of animal health.
“Each of these important positions has made an incredible impact on veterinary medicine and the animal health industry and have led to a number of global product approvals in the United States and abroad,” one nominator said. “Dr. McGruder has been integral to Elanco’s continued success in the animal health sector, making transformative moves and using innovation as a catalyst for change.”
In addition to his work as a leader in the animal health field, McGruder also gives his time generously to community organizations. He served as an elder at Abundant Grace Fellowship Church, chair of the Tocqueville Council for the United Way of Central Indiana, and chair of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Advisory Board, among others.
McGruder encapsulates the Aggie spirit, demonstrating excellence in his leadership of the animal pharmaceutical field while practicing kindness and selfless service in his community. His forward-thinking approach to pharmaceutical research has greatly benefitted the veterinary industry and will continue to do so for years to come.
“Dr. McGruder distinguishes himself professionally and conveys great recognition to the CVMBS through his resolute dedication to the veterinary profession,” said one nominator. “He continues to make an impact on our college, our university, our state, our nation, and beyond.”
McGruder and his wife, Patricia, live in Dallas; they have two sons.
Dr. Glenn Rogers ’80
Dr. Glenn Rogers has worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to improve the veterinary profession from positions in private practice, academia, and industry.
After attending Texas A&M University for both his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees, Rogers began his career as the owner of a mixed animal practice in his home town of Graham. Later, he built another practice in Palo Pinto County.
In 1991, Rogers left private practice to pursue a master’s degree and residency in beef production medicine at Kansas State University. Upon graduation, he accepted a faculty position at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, quickly rising to the status of associate professor. He became a Diplomate in the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Beef Cattle Practice) in 1995.
“Dr. Rogers became recognized as one of the most knowledgeable beef cattle herd health veterinarians in the United States,” one nominator said.
After seven productive years in academia, Rodgers transitioned to industry, most notably spending 12 years with Pfizer Animal Health and eventually becoming a senior manager of beef veterinary operations.
In this position, Rogers served as a major advocate for the Beef Partners in Extension Program, a collaboration between Pfizer and Texas A&M that was calculated by extension service economists to benefit the state of Texas $5.27 million a year.
Another significant product of Rogers’ time in industry was a web-based tool he developed called the Integrated Herd Health Planner, which improved how beef producers manage their herd vaccination records.
In 2013, Rogers left industry to return to Palo Pinto County to become a full-time rancher and operator of a beef heifer development business.
This career change has allowed him to increase his community involvement and organized veterinary medicine, including with the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), as district director from 2006-2012, chair of the AABP Foundation, and recipient of the 2015 AABP Distinguished Service Award. In 2016, Rogers was elected as vice president and served as AABP president in 2018-2019.
Rogers occasionally works as a veterinary consultant, with a clientele that includes the Superior Livestock Auctions, the nation’s largest cattle auction.
Rogers received the 2017 Texas Conservation Rancher of the Year Award and was named the 2018 Academy of Veterinary Consultants Consultant of the Year.
Recently, Rogers took his dedication to public service to the next level, winning election to the Texas House of Representatives to represent District 60.
“For four decades, Dr. Rogers has displayed the leadership, selfless service, discovery, and innovation that are hallmarks of a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,” one nominator said. “Dr. Glenn Rogers has been a selfless leader and innovator serving the cattle industry and veterinary medicine across the United States.”
Rogers and his wife, Mandy Moody, DVM, live in Graford, Texas. The couple has four children and five grandchildren.
Dr. Gordon Pirie ’71
Dr. Gordon Pirie has cemented himself as a pillar of both his community and of the world of zoological medicine.
Graduating from Texas A&M with both his Bachelor of Science in veterinary science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees, Pirie went on to own Baker Animal Hospital, a domestic small animal and exotic pet veterinary service in the city of Baker, Louisiana, from 1972-2017.
Concurrently, Pirie became active in his service to the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo as a contract veterinarian. Through this work, paired with his position as an adjunct assistant professor at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Pirie found a passion for teaching the next generation of veterinary students about exotic animal care. He recently retired from both LSU and the zoo.
“Dr. Gordon Pirie’s efforts and participation in the Zoological Medicine Program at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is and will always be a cornerstone to our success,” said one nominator. “He has truly made a difference in veterinary medicine, zoological medicine in particular, and in his community.”
Pirie also endeavors to improve the quality zoological animal care nationally through his work as an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation inspector. Other areas in which Pirie has emerged as a leader include his former presidencies of the Baton Rouge Area Veterinary Medical Association, the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, the Walter J. Ernst Memorial Veterinary Foundation, and more.
His work as a scout master and century member in the Boy Scouts of America, advisory board member of Park Ridge Elementary School, and ruling elder of West Baton Rouge Presbyterian Church also reflect this selfless attitude.
“Dr. Gordon Pirie is a fine man of faith, a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, as well as an honored practitioner by his local and state veterinary associations,” one nominator said. “He is not only diligent in his quest toward great health care for his patients but is also creative and inventive when faced with unique exotic zoo case challenges.”
For his service to pets, zoo animals, and the human members of his community, Pirie has been named the Louisiana Veterinarian of the Year in 1991 and the City of Baker Citizen of the Year in 2001, as well as having been awarded keys to the City of Baker, presented by the mayor and city council in 2017, among other honors.
“Dr. Gordon Pirie is one of the staunch supporters of providing high quality compassionate veterinary medicine,” said one nominator. “The veterinary profession has had considerable benefit from his many years of leadership and service through local, state, and national veterinary medical organizations.”
Pirie and his wife, Nanette, live in Baton Rouge; they have four children and seven grandchildren.
Dr. Clayton McCook ’09
2020 Rising Star Award Recipient
Between his career, volunteer efforts, and personal interests, Dr. Clayton McCook has found many ways to help animals and people in Oklahoma, where he lives, and beyond.
McCook earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Texas A&M in 2009, after earning bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish literature and language (2004) from Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington, respectively, and a master’s degree in animal sciences (2005) at the University of Connecticut.
While McCook serves as an associate veterinarian in equine sports medicine and surgery at multiple racetracks in Oklahoma, his passion for emergency response also led him to create the nonprofit organization Oklahoma Large Animal First Responders (OLAFR) after witnessing the 2013 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma City.
As the current president of OLAFR, he helps provide urgent care, triage, and evacuation for large animals during both natural and manmade disasters, while also bridging the gap between private citizens and federal, state, and local agencies.
“There is nobody I know who has given more to a community and surrounding areas than Dr. McCook in his desire to help those in need,” one nominator said. “He is an amazing veterinarian, a leader, and a tireless volunteer in order to help others.”
McCook’s volunteer work with OLAFR extends beyond Oklahoma, as well; he deployed to help animals in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and has lectured on disaster preparedness at veterinary conferences across the country.
Finally, after his daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, McCook dedicated much of his remaining free time to advocating for those with the disease and the need for improved treatment options.
“Dr. McCook has become a tireless advocate for patients of this chronic disease, using his medical background and altruistic spirit to educate policy makers at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle on the day-to-day realities of dealing with this medical reality,” another nominator said. “His indefatigable efforts to care for his daughter and those with similar life-threatening, non-communicable, lifelong illnesses have led him all the way to speak at hearings at the United Nations General Assembly.”
By working with organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the “Nightscout” Project, which developed Bluetooth-enabled insulin pump monitoring software, McCook is actively involved in keeping insulin accessible for all patients and improving type 1 diabetes management.
“Despite his being so active and in the forefront of so many fields, he remains a most humble and self-deprecating person, invariably attempting to pass on the source of some success to one of his peers or another team-member,” another nominator said. “I never cease to be impressed at how he finds time to help and educate others in so many different ways in addition to his veterinary practice activities.”
McCook currently lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with his wife Cindy and his two daughters.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216