Around The College

Auburn University, City of Gulf Shores Break Ground on Educational Complex

Auburn University and the City of Gulf Shores broke ground late June on a complex that will serve as an educational outpost for the university and a resource for the Gulf Coast. 

The College of Veterinary Medicine’s referral center will be the centerpiece of the 24,000-square-foot Auburn University Educational Complex, which will provide specialty and after-hours veterinary services and educational opportunities for students interested in internal medicine and surgery. 

Other Auburn programs included in the complex include the Auburn Aviation Center, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. 

“As an institution, Auburn will continue working with public and private partners to help drive the state’s economy and provide the research and knowledge that will enhance residents’ quality of life. This new educational complex is an excellent example of collaboration and provides a model for the type of partnership that serves us all,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. 

“I am excited and confident about this unique expansion of our program,” said Dean Calvin Johnson. “The center will provide extensive educational opportunities for Auburn students interested in specializing in internal medicine and surgery. 

“Auburn University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital has long served as a referral center for veterinarians practicing in south Alabama and west Florida,” Dean Johnson said. “The center will be permanently staffed with Auburn University veterinarians, technicians, and office personnel. 

“The center in Gulf Shores will provide 24-hour care for its patients and will offer emergency coverage to clients of regional veterinarians.” 

“Establishing the Auburn University Educational Complex in Gulf Shores advances our institution’s mission by providing educational opportunities and services that are not only mutually beneficial, but also impactful,” said Auburn University Provost Timothy Boosinger. 

The City of Gulf Shores announced in 2014 a strategic plan called “Small Town, Big Beach Vision 2025 for Sustainability” that included plans for the Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence, an academic campus with a new high school and a new location for Faulkner State Community College. The Auburn University Educational Complex will help meet the needs of the strategic plan by offering educational and economic development resources for the community, strengthening the region’s ability to serve its citizens. 

“Auburn University’s investment in our community validates our vision of enhancing education at all levels, and today’s groundbreaking marks a significant step toward turning this vision into reality,” said Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft. 

The Auburn University Educational Facility will be located at 21656 County Road 8 in Gulf Shores, which is at the corner of the Beach Express and County Road 8, adjacent to land acquired by the City of Gulf Shores for a new high school and the planned Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence. 

AUCVM Alumnus Receives El Toro Award


Dr. Jason Coe ’01 of Oneonta, Ala., was honored with the El Toro Award for Excellence in Food Animal Medicine during Annual Conference this spring. 

Dr. Coe is a 2001 graduate of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Coe began practicing at Animal Hospital PC in Oneonta, and three years later, became a partner in the practice. 

In 2012, after developing an interest in cervid medicine and reproduction, he partnered with Dr. Mike Bringans to form Advanced Deer Genetics, a company devoted to reproduction in cervid species. Dr. Coe has more than 10 years of experience working with the whitetail deer breeders in Alabama, combining his veterinary skills with reproductive technologies and herd health management. 

The El Toro Award for Excellence in Food Animal Medicine was established in 1994 and has been awarded annually through the generosity of Dr. James G. Floyd, Jr. in memory of his father, J.G. Floyd. 

The award recognizes a veterinarian who, through his or her contributions to food animal practice, organized veterinary medicine, and high ideals and dedication to the production of food animals, serves as a role model for veterinary students. A major focus of the award is to provide opportunity for interaction between veterinary students and the recipient to increase veterinary students’ interest in food animal medicine. 

Young Achievers Awards

FIVE MEMBERS OF THE CLASS OF 2007 were recognized with Young Achievers Awards, given each year during the college’s Annual Conference to honor alumni who have made a significant impact on the profession within the first 10 years of graduation. This year’s recipients include: 


Dr. Carter is clinical assistant professor, small animal internal medicine, at Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine in Glendale, Ariz. 

Prior to joining the faculty earlier this year, Dr. Carter was a small animal internal medicine specialist at the New York Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. He earned advanced clinical training as a small animal internal medicine resident at Michigan State University and as a small animal rotating intern at Louisiana State University. 

He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Medicine, Small Animal Internal Medicine, and his clinical interests include endocrine, gastrointestinal, respiratory and urinary disease. 

“I love the practice of veterinary medicine, and I am excited to practice at such a unique institution and to have the opportunity to work with students as they enter into their final year of training,” Dr. Carter said. 


Dr. Akin is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Neurology) and a neurology/neurosurgery veterinarian with Bush Veterinary Neurology Service in Atlanta. Dr. Akin’s passion for neurology was sparked by an unexpected interest in freshman neurology and neuroanatomy classes at the college. Following her DVM, she completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery internship at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and a neurology residency at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and remained as a clinical instructor, lecturing on topics such as degenerative myelopathy, cerebellar disease, vestibular disease and seizures. She also helped fourth-year veterinary students at Mississippi State with national board preparation and, in her free time, volunteered for Dachshund Rescue and the Humane Society. 


Senior principal scientist at Pfizer, Dr. Halsey is a board-certified veterinary pathologist and serves as a toxicologic pathologist on multidisciplinary drug development teams working to discover and develop small-molecule pharmaceuticals across multiple therapeutic areas. His research centers on comparative pathology and oncology with an emphasis on the translational application of veterinary species with spontaneous tumors. Since his graduation, Dr. Halsey completed an anatomic pathology residency and earned a Ph.D. from Colorado State University in oncology and cancer biology. He also has served as a staff scientist and investigative pathologist for the National Institutes of Health. He is a member of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, Society of Toxicologic Pathology, the American Association for Cancer Research, Veterinary Cancer Society, American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Dr. Stephens is a specialist at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists in Colorado, a premier veterinary specialty and emergency center.

Specializing in soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, Dr. Stephens is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

His extensive experience includes two years as an assistant professor of soft tissue and oncology at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as a small animal surgery residency at Auburn in 2011, where he also was an assistant professor of orthopedics. 

In addition to the DVM, the Tennessee native earned a master’s in biomedical sciences from Auburn in 2011. Prior to becoming a veterinarian, he earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Stanford University.


Dr. Woolsey is serving with Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) in Mongolia, working alongside a local non-government organization, V.E.T. Net, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This organization has two main focuses: veterinary medicine and education for children in rural areas. Dr. Woolsey is an advisor to the Caring Animal Clinic and Training Center, where he is helping to train young national veterinarians, assist with continuing education presentations, and build relationships with current veterinary students. Dr. Woolsey was first involved with CVM as an Auburn student. He spent seven years in a primarily small animal practice before joining CVM.

*Dr. Woolsey father, Dr. James Woolsey ’76, accepted the award.

Karly Hicks Goes the Extra Mile


Often a doctor’s bedside manner is as impactful in a patient’s treatment as is the medicine prescribed. This adage proved true for recent graduate Karly Hicks of Niceville, Fla., and her work on a particularly challenging and puzzling case in the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital. 

Dr. Hicks was recognized in March during the CVM Clinical Student Awards program for her outstanding work on the medical case and for going the extra mile with her compassion and her investigative and diagnostic skills. Her compassion not only helped calm an anxious pet and its owner, but her initiative also helped diagnose a puzzling case with excellent progress and recovery resulting. 

Tiger, a miniature dachshund, was brought to the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital last June by his owner, Patricia Simmons of Columbus, Ga. Tiger was diagnosed as having a reaction to medication administered for routine health care. 

“The adverse drug reaction was due to an abnormal response from Tiger’s immune system,” said Dr. Amelia White, assistant clinical professor of Dermatology. “We had never seen this reaction to this particular medication before, and Tiger’s response was severe leading to fever, weight loss, and extensive skin lesions. It was a very abnormal reaction and difficult to diagnose.” 

Dr. White said Tiger’s owner was anxious and Hicks, who was on clinical duty that day, helped to calm things. 

“Karly just bonded with Ms. Simmons,” Dr. White said. “Their bond was so strong that Ms. Simmons wanted to schedule their monthly clinical follow-up appointments only when Karly was going to be there.” 

“Karly came in and sat on the floor to calm Tiger,” Ms. Simmons said. “Sometimes when you meet a person, you just get a feeling that they are a genuine person with your good and your pet’s wellbeing at heart. That is what I felt when I met Karly.” 

Ultimately, Tiger’s condition was diagnosed and a successful treatment program begun. But that result is not the rest of the story. 

Dr. Hicks took a special interest in Ms. Simmons and Tiger’s medical case, Dr. White said. She began researching and spending extra time studying and reviewing Tiger’s case. 

“Her going that extra mile helped us to solve the medical puzzle and to develop a program of treatment that is proving successful,” Dr. White said. 

Dr. Hicks is working with Dr. White to co-author a scientific paper on Tiger’s case. Additionally, she presented the findings during her senior Clinical Pathology Conference (CPC) presentation to the faculty and students at the college. 

“It was a battle in the beginning, and that first day was a hard day for Ms. Simmons and an anxious one for Tiger,” Dr. Hicks said. “But Tiger is doing very well now.” 

Following graduation in May, Dr. Hicks entered an internship program in Nashville and from there, her plans include pursuing a DVM specialty in dermatology. 

Alumnus Gives in Memory



The date was July 31, 2002. The 38-year-old Duke graduate from Greensboro, N.C., was living and working in Jerusalem. She was employed in the Archives and History Department of the library at Hebrew University. She stopped off at The Frank Sinatra cafeteria for a bite to eat before taking a Hebrew language literacy exam which would open the door for her to explore new opportunities within the university. She had no idea that the actions of a terrorist group would prevent her from taking that exam by taking her life.… 

So begins the text describing the Diane Carter Memorial Fund established by her father, veterinary medicine alumnus Dr. Larry Carter ’62 and his wife, Nancy. The Carters recently presented a $200,000 gift from the fund to support the Canine Performance Sciences (CPS) Vapor Wake detector dog program. 

“We are supporting programs that we believe Diane would have wanted to support,” Dr. Carter said. 

Dr. Carter retired from a career as a large and small animal “mixed practice” veterinarian. He said he wanted to give back to his alma mater. When he learned about the Vapor Wake detector dog program, he said he had found the ideal program to gift. 

“Diane was killed in a terrorist bombing attack,” Dr. Carter said. “The Vapor Wake Detector Dog program is designed to combat such attacks, and because it also is a program at my alma mater, it is one that we feel very strongly about.” 

Diane Carter was born May 11, 1964, and grew up in Greensboro. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in anthropology and later received a master’s degree in social services from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

On July 31, 2002, she died in a terrorist bombing attack at the Hebrew University in Israel. The Diane Carter Memorial Fund was established to support causes in her honor. 

CPS is the successor of a research effort that began in 1990 at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The CPS mission is to innovate canine detection technology by exploring basic and applied research frontiers in olfaction, behavior, genetics, and physical performance. 

CPS scientists look for ways to develop dogs for a variety of uses, such as conservation and medical detection. CPS investigates new frontiers in olfaction, neuroscience, genetics, and physical performance by exploring the many scientific disciplines that make up canine performance science. This enables CPS to continue to expand the use of dogs to detect a variety of targets related to humans, animals and plants. 

“The Carters’ gift will allow us to carry out our vision of enhancing the sensory power and lives of our canine partners so they can make the world a safer place,” said CPS Co-Director Craig Angle. “The gift will give us the financial resources to invest in innovation of new canine technologies that detect emerging threats to humans, animals and plants.”

Teaching Hospital Receives High Marks


Auburn’s Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital ranks high nationally for its quality of medical services and expertise, according to a recent survey of referring veterinarians and clients. 

The college’s teaching hospital scored above the national average among its counterparts and with medical providers in nearly all ratings areas. Measures already have been enacted to correct the survey’s only shortfall: communication from specialists about case status and consultations. 

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital includes the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital, the J.T. Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital and the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic, a community practice. The mission of the teaching hospital is to provide the clinical education third- and fourth-year veterinary students need for a comprehensive education, as well as provide specialty service healthcare to animals. 

Faculty in the Department of Clinical Sciences teach senior-level students in the teaching hospital’s 16 specialty service areas, serving as clinicians providing animal healthcare, along with residents, interns and veterinary technicians. 

The survey of referring veterinarians was conducted by CalPro Research, a professional customer service and engagement measurement organization based in Rocklin, Calif. 

“We wanted to measure ourselves and learn how we ranked among our peer veterinary hospitals,” said Dr. Doug Allen, hospital director. “It involved a lengthy, data-driven process that provides us with a hard numerical value that benchmarks us in the industry—both public and private sector veterinary medicine providers.” 

The survey scored 12 key areas: ability to get into desired specialist; responsiveness to inquiries; timeliness and punctuality; level of compassion; communication of staff; communication of specialists; case consultations and recommendations; quality of medicine; updates on patient health and case progress; clarity of instructions for follow-up care; perception of client’s overall experience; and value for fees paid by clients. 

“Overwhelmingly, the quality of our medicine was our greatest strength (81 percent),” Dr. Allen wrote in a survey results summary to participating veterinarians. “We are pleased to report that our scores for level of compassion (62 percent) and perception of your clients’ overall experience (49 percent) are above the median ratings as compared to other referral centers across the country,” he continued. 

Although Auburn scored above the national median, there is room for improvement, added hospital Administrator Kristina Photakis. 

“The referral veterinarian poll is an annual measurement of some 1,200 veterinarians,” she said. “We also conduct a weekly survey of all hospital clients.” 

According to both polls, Photakis said communication is by far the area of greatest need for improvement. 

“We need to do a better job of communicating with our referral veterinarians on patient status and updates,” Photakis said. “We are … upgrading our medical records system to make it more interactive and easier for referring veterinarians and clients to track cases.” 

Directly related to survey responses, the hospital also has eliminated its fee-based online-consulting charge for Oncology Service cases, and now provides routine telephone or email oncology consulting with no fee charged. However, there is a $50 fee for a written report. 

“We also know that we are weak in the area of our Orthopedic Service, but we are actively interviewing and recruiting to hire qualified orthopedic surgeons,” Photakis said. 

Dr. Allen noted that survey participants do so anonymously; however, personal feedback is always welcome. 

“Our door is always open,” he said. “We welcome calls or email and we are … working to improve our medical services and performance.”

Graduation Class of 2017


The College of Veterinary Medicine awarded 119 professional DVM degrees during its 110th commencement on Tuesday, May 9, in ceremonies held at Auburn Arena. Additionally, 11 Master of Science in Biomedical Science (thesis and non-thesis) degrees were conferred, and four candidates were awarded the Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Science. 

Four alumni of the college received the Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest award given by the college to alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally. The recipients individually addressed the graduates, each issuing words of encouragement and professional guidance: 

Dr. Dale R. Eckert ’77 of Versailles, Ky., spoke about the medical and technological advances that have occurred in the veterinary profession over his career. His key message, however, was to give back something to the community that one serves. 

“These technological and medical advances have enabled better care and better diagnostics,” he said. “But like a person in a row boat that looks backward to move forward, I challenge all members of this class to take a moment to look back. Consider the many influences on your accomplishments. None of us have accomplished this on our own. Wherever you go from here, give back something of yourselves to the community. By doing so, we make a difference.” 

Dr. W. David Goolsby ’82 of Spartanburg, S.C., spoke about values. “My parents taught my siblings and me the greatest values of faith, character, courage, love, and forgiveness,” Dr. Goolsby said. “Auburn has given you the skills you need to be a successful veterinarian. I encourage you to take those lessons as well as those values with you.” 

Dr. Steven U. Walkley ’76 of South Salem, N.Y., spoke about mentoring and goals setting. “Veterinary medicine and human medicine are intimately intertwined,” he said. “The role of veterinarians is prominent in the concept of one health and one medicine. Mentoring is a significant component of turning your lessons and training learned here into a career. Find a mentor, set goals and stick to them.” 

Dr. Roberta Relford ’82 of Argyle, Texas, who also served as the keynote commencement speaker, encouraged the graduates to have the courage to pursue opportunities. “You will make a difference and you will have opportunities to make a difference in many different areas,” Dr. Relford said. 

She spoke about four key lessons learned during her career: 1) listen 2) be flexible 3) be willing to collaborate and to seek opportunities for collaboration and 4) reach out to others. 

“You have joined a very diverse and flourishing profession,” she added. “Have the courage to pursue opportunities when doors open.” 

Dr. Harold Pate, president of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association, administered the Veterinarian’s Oath, and Dr. Walter Haines, Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association’s current president, brought greetings from the Commonwealth.


The 119-member DVM class includes 40 students from Alabama and 36 students from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The remaining 43 at-large students hail from 17 states, including California, Illinois, Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Arkansas, West Virginia, Texas, New Hampshire and Tennessee. One student is from Bandar, Mahshahar. 

To date, the College of Veterinary Medicine has awarded 6,656 degrees. 


Dr. Roberta Relford

After earning the DVM degree in 1982 from Auburn University, Dr. Relford worked as a small animal practitioner in Florida and later Tennessee for several years before pursuing advanced training. Her interest in diagnostics took her to Mississippi where she obtained a Master of Science degree in veterinary pathology. She completed residencies in pathology and internal medicine and earned her Ph.D. in veterinary pathology at Texas A&M University, and served there as a clinical assistant professor for more than nine years. She obtained board certification from both the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. In 1996, Dr. Relford joined IDEXX Laboratories and was head of Pathology and Internal Medicine, where she and her team covered both national and global responsibilities. Her team of highly talented professionals grew the pathology and consultation service to more than 750,000 customer interactions per year.

Dr. Dale Eckert

A 1977 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Eckert is a proud Auburn/Kentucky veterinarian, serving his profession and the state of Kentucky through the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA). He has served as the KVMA Executive Board representative for the Central Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and as chair of the public relations committee, the by-laws committee, Mid-America Veterinary Conference small animal program, and co-chair of the Mid-America Veterinary Conference professional development committee. He was nominated by his peers as KVMA vice president and moved into the presidency in 1999. After leaving the KVMA Executive Board, Dr. Eckert continued to represent the KVMA through his service on numerous committees at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, including the Alumni Advisory Board, the development team for fundraising for the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital, and the KVMA/AU Student Class Task Force. In 2005, Dr. Eckert was presented the KVMA Distinguished Service Award, and in 2013, he was named the KVMA Veterinarian of the Year for his outstanding service to the veterinary profession and his community. He was appointed by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to serve on the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and continues to serve in that position. 

Dr. Walkley earned a bachelor’s degree at Auburn University and then the DVM in 1976. He continued his education, earning a Master of Science in Neurophysiology from the University of Edinburgh, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Doctor of Philosophy in experimental pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Training in comparative medicine and neuroscience provided the basis for his career focus in neurogenetic disease, particularly those disorders impacting neuronal homeostatic mechanisms and resulting in intellectual disability and related neurobehavioral abnormalities. Diseases of his current focus include the lysosomal diseases Niemann-Pick types A and C, mucolipidosis IV, cystinosis, GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis, Sanfilippo type A (MPS IIIA), Batten disorders (CLN2 and CLN3) and an endosomal disorder known as Christianson syndrome. Dr. Walkley’s contributions to the collective effort in characterizing cat models of the gangliosides laid the foundation on which decades of research have been built, and has been crucial to achieving the current historic stage of nearing clinical human trials of a gene therapy for these incurable diseases by scientists at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Scott-Ritchey Research Center. 

Dr. David Goolsby

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University, Dr. Goolsby earned the DVM from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982 and was commissioned in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. His assignments took him around the world, representing the veterinary field on a variety of fronts: establishing a food hygiene program, planning medical training exercises, conducting a hog cholera vaccination program, establishing a food safety and animal medical/zoonotic disease program, and providing animal medical and food safety support for multiple military bases. Dr. Goolsby was assigned to the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, where he had the opportunity to develop guidelines and policies on food safety affecting the U.S. military worldwide. He was appointed as the Department of Defense representative to the National Committee of Microbiological Critieria for Foods, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested his service on the task force that published the “Future of Food Safety and Inspection Service Veterinarians for the Twenty-First Century” report. Following retirement, Dr. Goolsby entered the civilian world of public health practice, serving the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as director of Public Health for Appalachia District III and later director of South Carolina Public Health Region 2. 

The prestigious award is the highest honor given to an alumnus of the College of Veterinary Medicine and is named to honor the late Wilford S. Bailey, who held a 50-year continuous faculty appointment at Auburn, serving in positions ranging from instructor to University President. A 1942 graduate of the college, Dr. Bailey was the first recipient of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award. Following his death in 2000, it was named in Dr. Bailey’s memory. The Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital opened in 2014.