COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M; Association of Former Students (AFS) honored three members of the Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) faculty with University-Level Distinguished Achievement Awards, one of the highest honors presented by the AFS. Dr. Wesley Bissett, associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) and director of the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET); Dr. Jeffery M.B. Musser, clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB); and Dr. Ashley Saunders, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS) were announced as this year’s honorees from the CVM.
Recipients are recognized for their efforts in one of several categories: teaching; research; staff; student relations; administration; extension, outreach, continuing education, and professional development; and graduate mentoring.
Bissett earned the award in recognition of his excellence in the extension, outreach, continuing education, and professional development category. Musser and Saunders were awarded based on excellence in the teaching category.
“The CVM is fortunate to have such dedicated faculty whose work plays a critical role in the success of our college,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “This is an exciting honor for Drs. Bissett, Musser, and Saunders. These three leaders contribute to the CVM in a unique and meaningful way and help facilitate a welcoming and productive educational environment.”
Bissett earned his DVM in 1997 and his Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology in 2007, both from Texas A&M; University. His primary interests are in veterinary emergency response, environmental health, epidemiology, and public health. As director of the VET, he oversees and leads the VET’s rescue efforts.
“I have never seen anyone more passionate about his work than Wesley Bissett is about the VET,” said Dr. Allen Roussel, department head of VLCS. “Dr. Bissett took the VET from an idea spawned in the wake of Hurricane Rita to the largest, best equipped, and most successful veterinary emergency response team in the USA. Through selfless dedication and endless hours of work, he and his team have assembled an unparalleled emergency response unit that touches the lives of animals and human beings every day. While they have performed incredible service on deployments to areas in need, their greatest contribution to the state and the country is working with county officials to develop local emergency response plans and training future veterinary leaders, who will bring emergency preparedness wherever they go. Witnessing the passion and dedication of Wesley Bissett and the successful outcome of his efforts has been one of the highlights of my career as a department head.”
Musser joined the CVM faculty in 2000 and has won several awards at the CVM, including the 2003 Montague Teaching Excellence Award, the 2005 Texas Veterinary Medical Association Research Award, and the 2007 Texas A&M; University International Excellence Award. He has also been nominated twice by the CVM for the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Teaching. With an interest in global veterinary medicine and emerging infectious diseases, Musser has worked diligently to provide opportunities for Texas A&M; students to intern overseas in Zambia, Malawi, Norway, Australia, Ghana, and Ecuador. In addition, he has taught several study abroad courses.
“In veterinary medicine, we are lucky to have so many caring, passionate, and outstanding teachers, making it difficult to single out a few for special recognition,” said Dr. Roger Smith, interim head of VTPB. “Musser’s passion for students is obvious to all who see him in a classroom, laboratory, or any student gathering. His love of students, combined with his creative teaching, makes him truly deserving of this recognition.”
Saunders has been with the CVM since 2005 as a clinical assistant professor, where she focuses on cardiac issues in small animals, including congenital heart disease and heart failure management. In the Small Animal Cardiology Service,
Saunders works closely with veterinary students in the hospital to prepare them for difficult and complex cases. She is also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (subspecialty cardiology) and has been widely recognized for her teaching, having won several other awards. Her teaching awards include the Bridges Teaching and Service Award in 2011 and the Richard H. Davis Teaching Award in 2010; she was also named a Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar in 2009. Additionally, she is the assistant department head for teaching in VSCS.
“Ashley Saunders is a superstar. She is an outstanding clinician-scientist, who is a truly gifted educator,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, department head of VSCS. “By fusing her passion for teaching, novel technologies, and scholarship, she is defining veterinary education in the 21st century.”
Each honoree will receive a framed certificate from the AFS along with a $4,000 monetary award in a ceremony scheduled for Monday, April 25 at 1:30 pm in Rudder Theater. The awards, begun in 1955, recognize outstanding members of Texas A&M’s faculty and staff for their commitment, performance, and positive impact on Aggie students, Texas citizens, and the world around them.