In a change from the previous year’s conference which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large group of participants were welcomed back to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine September 16-18 for the 2021 Annual Conference and J.T. Vaughan Equine Conference.

This year’s gathering continued a tradition of 114 consecutive years of continuing education provided by the Southeast’s oldest veterinary program. More than 460 attendees from across the U.S. attended the conferences, which provide opportunities for Auburn alumni, faculty, students, veterinary technicians and other veterinary professionals from across the region and nation to participate in cutting-edge continuing education sessions and professional networking opportunities.

The conference and sessions were sponsored by Southern Veterinary Partners, Covetrus, Merck Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Elanco, CareCredit, CreditBench, Royal Canin and American Regent Animal Health & Adequan. The three-day program offered presentations in various disciplines of small animal, farm animal and equine veterinary education, as well as numerous health and wellness courses. In addition, the combined conferences included an exhibit hall with 20 vendors.

The 2021 program offered more than 85 hours of professional sessions in various disciplines, including courses designed specifically for veterinary technicians. Online sessions were led by some of the top veterinary professionals from around the nation, including speakers from the fields of veterinary education, research and business. The keynote speaker was Greg Williams, head coach of the Auburn Equestrian Team, who has led the team to six National Collegiate Equestrian Association overall national championships and four Southeastern Conference titles in his 26-year career at Auburn.

Among this year’s professional presenters were Dr. Josep Aisa, assistant professor in small animal surgery (soft tissue) at the University of Tennessee; Dr. Colleen Best, a consultant and educator focused on nontechnical competencies, including veterinarian-client communication, veterinary team performance, well-being and resilience; Dr. Mike Brown, technical consultant for the U.S. beef business for Elanco Animal Health; Dr. Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, chief animal welfare officer for Elanco; Dr. T. Robin Falkner, private consultant and industry technical services veterinarian; Dr. Richard Ford, emeritus professor of medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University; and Dr. John T. Groves, who owns and operates Livestock Veterinary Services in Eldon, Missouri.

Other 2021 presenters included Dr. Lore Haug, a behavioral specialist at Texas Veterinary Behavior Services in Sugar Land, Texas; Dr. Dean A. Hendrickson, who has served as hospital director and associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University; Dr. W. Mark Hilton, clinical professor of beef production medicine at Purdue University and a senior technical consultant on the cattle team at Elanco; Dr. Liza K ster, clinical assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Tennessee; Dr. Patty Lathan, associate professor of small animal internal medicine at Mississippi State University; Dr. Sara Place, chief sustainability officer at Elanco; Dr. Brian Vander Ley, assistant professor and veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center; Dr. Andrew Duke ’75, who practices at Duke Animal Clinic in Mobile, Alabama; and Dr. Bert Gaddis, who practices at Indian Springs Animal Hospital in Pelham, Alabama, and is one of approximately 160 practicing animal dentists in the world and the only board-certified animal dentist in Alabama.

More than 500 alumni from the classes of 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016, as well as the classes of 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 — who were unable to celebrate in person last year due to the pandemic — were in attendance for the 2021 class reunion celebration. Dr. Rory Applegate ’11 and Dr. Denty Vaughn ’11 were honored as the 2021 winners of Young Achiever Awards during the Class of 2011 reunion. Young Achiever Awards recognize members of the class celebrating their 10th anniversary. The awards recognize recipients’ professional accomplishments in veterinary medicine, outstanding contributions to their communities and their overall advancement of animal and human health.

A special event, Career Connect, was held on September 19, following the Annual Conference. This event provided an opportunity for students and employers to interact one-on-one, establish professional relationships and discuss potential job opportunities. More than 45 employers and 150 students participated.

The first day also culminated in an awards ceremony honoring a group of distinguished veterinary professionals who have practiced their profession with great skill, knowledge, energy, compassion and professionalism and who have enhanced the college’s reputation.

Three alumni — Dr. David L. Suarez ’88, Dr. Douglas Martin ‘99 and Dr. Mark Cheney ’69 — were honored as the 2021 winners of the Wilford S. Bailey Award. The award is the highest honor given to Auburn veterinary alumni to recognize their professional accomplishments in veterinary medicine, outstanding contributions to their communities and the overall advancement of animal and human health.

It is named in honor of the late Wilford S. Bailey, a 1942 graduate of the college who held a 50-year continuous faculty appointment at Auburn, serving in positions ranging from veterinary instructor to dean to university president. Awardees are recognized in three different areas of eligibility: research and public policy, academia and private practice.

The winners of two other major awards were recognized, including the El Toro Award for Excellence in Food Animal Medicine and the John Thomas Vaughan Equine Achievement Award.

The 2021 El Toro Award was presented to Dr. E. Muncey Pryor II ’78. Established in 1994 by Dr. James G. Floyd Jr. and his family in memory of his father, Dr. J.G. “Bull” Floyd, the annual award recognizes a veterinarian who—through his or her high ideals, dedication to the production of food animals and contributions to food animal practice and organized veterinary medicine — serves as a role model for veterinary students.

The 2021 John Thomas Vaughan Equine Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Timothy P. Stewart ’79. Named after
Dean Emeritus John Thomas Vaughan, the award recognizes leaders who help guide the equine industry to a better future. It is presented to an Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus who exemplifies the Auburn spirit through leadership, dedication to and passion for one’s profession, hard work that improves individual and community outcomes and modesty in the impact that they have had on others and their profession.

The 2022 Annual Conference will take place October 20-23, 2022.

Visit the conference website at or contact Meredith Smildsin at for more information.



  • Southern Veterinary Partners


  • Covetrus
  • Merck Animal Health


  • Boehringer-Ingelheim


  • CareCredit
  • Royal Canin
  • CreditBench
  • American Regent Animal Health & Adequan


The Bailey Award is the highest honor given to Auburn Vet Med alumni, recognizing their outstanding accomplishments in veterinary medicine, contributions to their communities and the advancement of animal and human health. Named in honor of the late Wilford S. Bailey, a 1942 Auburn DVM graduate who held a 50-year continuous faculty appointment at Auburn serving in positions ranging from instructor to university president, Bailey was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award which was later named for him. Each year, recipients are recognized in three distinct areas: academia, private practice and research/public policy.

JMarcus W. CheneyMarcus W. Cheney ’69 (Private Practice)

Recipient of the 2021 Bailey Award in Private Practice, Dr. Marcus Cheney earned a DVM from Auburn in 1969 and later opened Cheney and Northrop Equine, now Northrop Equine, in Louisville, Kentucky. He has served 10 years on the Auburn Vet Med Large Animal Advisory Council and was appointed by Governor Matt Bevin to the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council in 2021. Cheney is a prominent internationally respected racetrack veterinarian with a diverse and productive career in racetrack equine practice. He is recognized and respected worldwide by the most notable and successful horse trainers and owners, and he advises on conditions of the finest racing Thoroughbreds worldwide. Throughout his career, Cheney has been a mentor to students and ambassador for the veterinary profession, encouraging many students to consider veterinary medicine as a career.

Douglas R. MartinDouglas R. Martin ’99 (Academia)

Recipient of the 2021 Bailey Award in Academia, Dr. Doug Martin received a doctorate in biomedical sciences from Auburn, joining the faculty in 2004 as an assistant research professor in the Scott-Ritchey Research Center. He currently serves as director of the Scott-Ritchey Research Center and is a professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology. In 2002, Martin and his mentor conducted a project on gene therapy of an inherited, fatal, neurodegenerative disease in cats (feline GM1 gangliosidosis) with funding from the NIH. In a 2016 presentation at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, the team announced they had cured this disease with a single intravenous dose of adeno-associated virus vectored gene therapy. Human clinical trials were initiated three years later. To date, five children have been treated and given a chance at normal life. Martin has received numerous awards and honors, including the Above & Beyond Award from the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, Auburn’s B.F. Hoerlein Research Award and the 2020 Auburn Faculty Achievement Award presented by the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

David L. SuarezDavid L. Suarez ’88 (Research and Public Policy, Other)

After earning a DVM from Auburn in 1988, Dr. David Suarez earned a Ph.D. at Iowa State University. He is currently Research Leader for Exotic & Emerging Avian Diseases Research at the USDA’s Southeastern Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Georgia, home to the U.S. National Poultry Research Center. Named recipient of the 2021 Bailey Award in Research/Public Policy, Suarez is an expert in avian influenza virus (AIV) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV). His work focuses on developing and implementing diagnostic tests for AIV and NDV and has been highly effective at curbing and eliminating AIV and NDV outbreaks internationally, as well as in developing robust surveillance systems domestically to protect the $577 billion U.S. poultry industry. In recognition of his efforts as a USDA employee in response to the avian influenza outbreaks of 2015, he was awarded the AVMA’s Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Public Service in 2017.


The Young Achiever Awards recognize members of the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine’s class celebrating its 10th anniversary. This year, two members of the DVM Class of 2011 were honored for their exemplary service to the veterinary profession, professional accomplishments in veterinary medicine, outstanding contributions to their communities and their overall advancement of animal and human health.

Rory Applegate ’11Rory Applegate ’11

Dr. Rory Applegate received a DVM from Auburn in 2011 before completing a small animal rotating internship at the University of Wisconsin, followed by an internal medicine residency at the University of Tennessee. She is currently a practicing internist and medical director at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center in Central Point, Oregon. She has led the SOVSC Veterinary Blood Donor and Veterinary Mentorship programs and currently works alongside the management team to open the region’s first standalone veterinary urgent care clinic.

 Denty Paul Vaughn, Jr. ’11 Denty Paul Vaughn, Jr. ’11

Dr. Denty Vaughn received an undergraduate degree in biology and master’s in public health from the University of Alabama-Birmingham before earning a DVM from Auburn in 2011. He completed a surgical residency at Mississippi State University, a surgical internship at Hollywood Animal Hospital in Florida, a rotating internship at Mississippi State and currently practices at Veterinary Specialists of Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama.


E. Muncey Pryor ’78E. Muncey Pryor ’78

Established in 1994, the annual El Toro Award recognizes an Auburn veterinarian, who, through his or her contributions to food animal practice and organized veterinary medicine, high ideals and dedication to the production of food animals, serves as a role model for veterinary students and promotes food animal medicine. A Kentucky native, Dr. Muncey Pryor enrolled in Auburn under the SREB agreement and graduated with a DVM in 1978. Following graduation, he entered private practice in his home state and in 1979 opened his own practice serving large and small animal clients at the Henry County Animal Clinic. He remained as owner or co-owner until his retirement in 2020, was a principal founder of the Carroll County Animal Clinic in 2002 and has been active in various professional organizations. Throughout his career, Pryor has mentored many pre-veterinary and veterinary students and young veterinarians.


Timothy P. Stewart ’79Timothy P. Stewart ’79

Named for Dean Emeritus John Thomas Vaughan, the Vaughan Equine Achievement Award recognizes an Auburn veterinarian who is dedicated to equine health and exemplifies the Auburn spirit through leadership and commitment to the veterinary profession. Dr. Tim Stewart graduated from Auburn with a DVM in 1979. Following graduation, he has operated and owned a small animal hospital and ambulatory equine practice in south Alabama and northwest Florida for over 30 years. The practice added an equine hospital in 2010. Throughout his career, Stewart has greatly impacted veterinary student education through externships and preceptorships. He has recently been instrumental in his support of the Auburn Vet Med equine clerkship rotation during the clinical year, through which he gives back to his alma mater and mentors students.

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