Spring  2011                                                                 Issue 3 

News From the Association of  American Veterinary Medical Colleges


Academic veterinary medicine needs visionary leaders who

recognize the critical need to take decisive action now to prepare for the future. That was an oft-repeated theme and message of encouragement at the AAVMC's recent 2011 Annual Conference, which brought together more than 200 leaders in academic veterinary medicine to assess trends, share best practices, participate in legislative advocacy, and plan strategically for the profession's future.  


Centered on the theme of  "Culture, Climate and Curriculum: The Cornerstones of Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century," the conference addressed how to lead change, respond with integrity to controversy, and create an institutional climate that values diversity, among other important topics. 


Learn more about the conference and its impact on academic veterinary medicine in this edition of News From the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

AAVMC Reaches Out to Congress, NIH to Promote Legislative and Research Priorities  Reed at reception


The AAVMC's 2011 Annual Conference kicked off in high gear on  March 10, when leaders in academic veterinary medicine from AAVMC member institutions visited with members of Congress to request their support for the AAVMC's legislative priorities.  Topics discussed included H.R. 525, the Veterinary Public Health Amendments Act of 2011, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, and other funding requests. Above, Willie M. Reed, AAVMC Board of Directors president, talks with Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a veterinarian, at a congressional reception hosted by the AAVMC.

Other education and outreach initiatives included a visit from the Associate Deans for Research Committee to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for a tour and presentations on NIH research opportunities and the reorganization of the National Center for Research Resources.

"We visited over 130 offices during this year's Advocacy Summit and over one-third of the meetings were with members of Congress," said Brian Smith, the AAVMC's director of Governmental Affairs. "The annual conference represents a unique opportunity to reach out to decision-makers, make direct appeals, and to put a face on issues that affect academic veterinary medicine."
Iverson Bell Symposium Addresses Campus Climate, Commitment to Diversity 


"Every campus, regardless of our diversity in numbers, must be expected to promote and maintain a healthy campus climate," said Frances E. Kendall, Ph.D., who spoke at the 2011 Iverson Bell Symposium on using "climate surveys"  to support and create a diverse and inclusive college culture. 


Climate surveys use feedback about attitudes, perceptions and actions to respond in ways that help to create an academic culture that promotes success and high achievement for all students, but especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds. The feedback is also used to create a curriculum that positions students to practice in more diverse environments.   


A 2001 study on university diversity from the University of California found that, "More important than who attends or works on a university campus is the role of the leadership of the institution in monitoring, supporting healthy change, and holding itself accountable for the climate of the campuses."   


Building on campus inclusiveness, attendees also heard from schools that have made an effort to expand the DVM curriculum and the use of co-curriculum programming to increase student exposure on diversity topics related to veterinary medicine.  Dr. Ronnie Elmore from Kansas State University presented on a freshmen elective course at the college.  "Enrollment in this course has roughly doubled in the two years the course has been offered demonstrating a growing interest among students around these issues," said Elmore.  The course features guest lecturers from a variety of backgrounds and provides students with basic information on a wide expanse of diversity dimensions and topics.


For the first time, the symposium included a segment devoted to the concerns of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered (GLBT) community with a session on how to demonstrate understanding and sensitivity to the GLBT population and create a welcoming academic environment for all students. 


The bi-annual symposium honors the late Iverson Bell, DVM, for his ground-breaking efforts to promote diversity in veterinary medicine.  

Conference Award Winners Reflect Values

Several leaders in veterinary medical education, who received awards at the conference, illustrate the AAVMC's priorities when put into practice.
  • Dr. Willie E. Reed, AAVMC president and dean of Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine, received the Iverson Bell Award, given in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions in promoting opportunities for underrepresented minorities in veterinary medical education.
  • Dr. John U. Thomson, from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award for his visionary leadership in promoting veterinary legislative advocacy.
  • Dr. Richard Meadows, of the University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine, received the national 2010 Pfizer Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award.
  • Dr. Peter Eyre, dean emeritus at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, was chosen to deliver the 2011 Recognition Lecture, which stressed the urgency of addressing the structure and challenges of veterinary medical education.
"These distinguished doctors have all contributed greatly to advancing veterinary medical education," said the AAVMC's Executive Director, Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou.  "We're pleased to honor them for their visionary leadership and commitment to securing the future of veterinary medicine."

AAVMC Debuts New Website

Our new website provides up-to-date information about AAVMC news, events, programs, and initiatives. Our goal is to make it the "go to" site for those who want to find out what is going on in the world of veterinary medical education, and serve as a portal for students who have an interest in applying to veterinary medical school.  Check it out at www.aavmc.org.


In This Issue
AAVMC Promotes Priorities
Creating an Inclusive Climate
Award-Winners Reflect Values
Leadership in Action
Challenges and Changes in Admissions
Record Attendance at Career Fair
Demonstrating Leadership:  Case Studies and the Lessons Learned

Here's the scenario:  In the face of state budget cuts, a donor wants to give millions of dollars to your university on the condition that the veterinary school change policies to align with donor's personal interests. When a distorted version of the story hits the news and a crisis erupts, how do you respond?


That was one of the questions posed to attendees at the Leadership Seminar of the AAVMC's 2011 Annual Conference, based upon the real-life experiences of deans at colleges of veterinary medicine. 


The verdict?  Stay aligned with your mission, maintain your integrity, respond quickly, and view the crisis as an opportunity that can actually make your institution stronger by mobilizing friends and allies who can broadcast your strengths.  


The session on "Leading Change: Diversity and Risk Communications in Veterinary Colleges," led by award-winning Georgetown University Professor Robert Bies, also looked at issues related to teaching hospitals and how to infuse diversity into the curriculum.  


Bies' energetic, interactive, and inspirational session stressed how leaders in academic veterinary medicine can initiate change and respond strategically to the challenges of the 21st century.


Other presentation components focused on the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium's (NAVMEC) "Roadmap for Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century: Responsive, Collaborative & Flexible," which generated a lively discussion of the report's five strategic goals and all competencies.    


NAVMEC is still in the consultative phase and wants to hear from you.  Learn more and weigh in here. 

Admissions Workshop Looks at Applicant Data Trends, Challenges and Changes

Some major changes are coming to the new GRE, with a revised scoring system that ranges from 130 - 170, instead of the traditional 200 - 800. Attendees at the Admissions Workshop learned how to understand and prepare for the changes, as well as how to accommodate students with special needs that range from  learning disabilities to impairments (visual, hearing and mobility) and psychological challenges.  


At the workshop, Lisa Greenhill, the AAVMC's associate executive director for Institutional Research and Diversity, addressed the dilemma of stagnating national enrollment numbers compounded by widespread budget cuts and an overall increase in seats at schools and colleges of veterinary medicine. 


She described all of these factors as a kind of "perfect storm" that could have an adverse impact on admissions practices. To avoid diluting the quality of the applicant pool, Greenhill stressed the need to focus on attracting even more high-quality students to veterinary medicine and allocating more effort and resources to recruitment. 


Career Fair Attracts and Informs Prospective Veterinarians  


Nearly 400 students - more than ever before - attended the AAVMC's Career Fair held at this year's conference.  


Students visited booths and heard presentations about career options and getting into medical veterinary school, targeted to both high school and undergraduate students. 

Middle school counselor Lauren Peck, who brought two high school juniors to the career fair, wrote to express her appreciation for the event.


"This career fair really motivated both girls," she wrote. "They gained so much insight into the process of applying for undergrad programs and the big step of getting into their medical schools ... my niece was so energized and excited about the information she received. The girls have a long road ahead of them, but now they know what to expect along that road and they are that much more prepared for it!"


Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
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