Dean Johnson Reflects

On March 8, 2019, Dean Calvin Johnson completed a one-year term of service as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (A AVMC) and chairman of the A AVMC Board of Directors.

AAVMC president Michael Lairmore, dean of the University of California – Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, left, presents an award to Dean Calvin Johnson.

Elected by the deans of the 49 accredited veterinary medical colleges in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia, Johnson worked with the organization’s chief executive officer, Andrew Maccabe, and the Board of Directors to advance A AVMC efforts in each component of the organization’s mission to analyze, catalyze, and advocate for academic veterinary medicine worldwide. When asked to reflect on his experience as AAVMC president, Johnson noted, “The AAVMC presidency was one of the most interesting activities I’ve pursued as dean. The chance to represent Auburn University while working closely with other veterinary college deans on topics of importance to veterinary education and veterinary college administration has been a great opportunity. Along the way, I’ve compared Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the others, and I’m extremely proud of the quality, focus, and professionalism of our college, the success of our graduates, the impact of our scholarly work, and the beneficial influence of our program on our many stakeholders. I’ve also learned of some great ideas that other colleges are pursuing with regard to budgeting, industry engagement, curriculum structure, student assessment, interprofessional education, diversity, and international partnerships. Dr. Andy Maccabe, the CEO of the AAVMC, is one of the exceptional thought leaders in organized veterinary medicine, and the opportunity to work closely with him over the past year has been both informative and inspiring.”

During Johnson’s term of service, the AAVMC pursued many important goals in support of academic veterinary medicine:

The AAVMC partnered with the AVMA to establish and support the Veterinary Futures Commission, comprised of 10 thought-leaders from academia, industry, veterinary practice, and non-profit organizations. The group evaluated opportunities and challenges facing the veterinary profession at its interface with society in the realms of food production, healthcare, companionship, safety and security, teaching and learning, and professional culture.

The AAVMC and AVMA convened a biannual joint committee of the respective leadership teams to coordinate activities and cultivate synergism in mission between veterinary education and the veterinary profession.

The partnership between the AAVMC and AVMA to support the Council on Education (COE) as the official accrediting body for veterinary colleges continued to strengthen under the guidance of the AAVMC’s Senior Accreditation Advisor. The AAVMC and AVMA now share responsibilities for the selection of members of site visit teams and composition of the COE on matters related to accreditation of veterinary colleges.

In collaboration with the AVMA, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (A AVSB) and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), the A AVMC issued a joint statement in support of professional licensure for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

AAVMC officers from left: past-president Calvin Johnson; secretary Ruby Perry, dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine; president Michael Lairmore, dean of the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; and president-elect Mark Markel, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine

The AAVMC’s Competency Based Veterinary Education (CBVE) program continued to gain broad recognition as an educational strategy to prepare future generations of highly qualified veterinary medical practitioners. The goal of this program developed a framework to guide the education of practice-ready, entry-level professionals who are educated to a common standard of excellence and whose mastery is assessed through innovative methods.

Preparation of the Comparative Data Report (CDR), a comprehensive statistical portrait of the 49 colleges of veterinary medicine from A AVMC-member institutions located throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The CDR serves as a benchmarking tool for colleges of veterinary medicine with respect to budgeting, enrollment, tuition, student profiles, faculty profiles, and hospital caseload. Interesting facts from the AAVMC’s member institutions are:

  • 13,323 veterinary students are enrolled at A AVMC member institutions, and 81% are women.
  • Tuition averages $31,979 for in-state and $52,613 for out-of-state students.
  • Nationally, 48% of veterinary students receive scholarship support, each receiving an average of over $5,000 per year.
  • About 80% of students will graduate with debt, averaging $169,046.

The Veterinary Debt Initiative, a partnership between the AVMA, AAVMC, and the Veterinary Medical Association Executives, maintained momentum and provided resources to enable pre-veterinary students, veterinary students and veterinarians to make informed financial decisions as they pursue a financially successful and rewarding career in veterinary medicine.

AAVMC partnered with Zoetis for the 10th consecutive year on the Veterinary Student Scholarship Award Program, providing more than $6 million in scholarship aid to more than 3,000 students.

The AAVMC administered the Veterinary Medicine Career Application Service (VMCAS), a centralized service for most veterinary college applications in North America. The AAVMC was heavily engaged in recruitment of students into the veterinary profession, with a strong emphasis on expanding the diversity of the profession. The number of unique applicants to veterinary colleges rose to over 8,000 in 2018, which was up 7% over 2017, and the number of applications they submitted to different colleges grew to more than 40,000, which was up by 10% over 2017.

The AAVMC supported the Veterinary Career Advisor Network (VetCAN) which connected students with employers through virtual career fairs and other networking opportunities.

The AAVMC’s Council on International Veterinary Medical Education awarded grants in support of international partnerships between colleges of veterinary medicine to advance educational standards and improve the profession’s understanding of unique veterinary markets and educational systems around the globe.

The AAVMC developed guidelines for veterinary internship programs to promote best practices for one-year internship programs in academia and private practice. Well-structured internships can provide valuable experiences to prepare individuals for subsequent residency training in clinical specialties.

The National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRE) was established at Iowa State University in 2018. This is a multi-institutional coalition and grew out of our four year-collaboration with the American Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) and the AAVMC.

The AAVMC’s Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA) One Health Alliance (known as COHA) continued to promote the theme of One Health in biomedical research. A total of 15 veterinary colleges are now partnering with human medical schools to conduct research to ultimately identify cures for human diseases. Auburn is a member of COHA through its partnership with the University of Alabama-Birmingham College of Medicine.

Dr. Johnson’s presidency culminated with his role as program chair for the AAVMC’s 2019 Annual Conference & Iverson Bell Symposium in Washington, D.C. where a record 389 educators from around the world explored the power of diverse teams in solving the world’s most complex problems in veterinary medicine, biomedical science, economics, and business. Acclaimed speakers included social scientist Dr. Scott E. Page, author of The Diversity Bonus, NIH scientist Dr. Kara L. Hall, and Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jascik.

Prior to the Annual Conference, representatives of veterinary colleges from 27 states visited Capitol Hill to meet with senators and members of congress to discuss important issues for academic veterinary medicine. Dean Johnson, Dean Ruby Perry from Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn faculty member and Leadership Academy participant Dr. Anne Wooldridge, and other constituents visited the Alabama congressional delegation on behalf of the AAVMC. The group promoted topics of importance to academic veterinary medicine, such as public service loan forgiveness, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, the Veterinary Services Grant Program, and sustained federal funding for biomedical and agricultural research.

Now in the role of A AVMC past-president, Dr. Johnson will continue to serve on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors and coordinate the AAVMC Deans’ Leadership Conference in 2020.