One of the highlights of my service this year as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (A AVMC) has been the opportunity to view the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine from a truly unique perspective—the 30,000-foot level—and then to zoom back to ground level for an internal view. From a high altitude, Auburn University resembles the 30 U.S. veterinary colleges in its pursuit of excellence in education, research, and outreach to the veterinary and scientific communities. All 30 deans of these colleges manage tight budgets, work incessantly to recruit, promote, and retain outstanding faculty, and cultivate research that advances the edge of scientific knowledge. Most operate large veterinary teaching hospitals, which artfully blend clinical education with the delivery of comprehensive specialty services to the veterinary community. All are committed to the education and nurture of their student bodies, and each proudly promotes the skills and competencies of its graduates.
So, what defines an Auburn veterinarian? David Housel, Auburn Athletics Director Emeritus approached the topic in this way: What is Auburn? Far be it from me to answer that question. There are as many definitions of Auburn as there are Auburn men and women. Auburn’s veterinary alumni base, now more than 6,500 strong, is more diverse and geographically distributed than one could imagine. To grasp the breadth and impact of the Auburn veterinary family, consider the 5,797 donors who helped the college surpass $88 million in our most recent Because This is Auburn campaign. Or, consider the three veterinarians—a small animal practice entrepreneur in Louisville and champion of organized veterinary medicine in Kentucky (Dr. Pat Kennedy Arrington), an esteemed Auburn faculty member and renowned researcher in wound healing and reconstructive surgery (Dr. Steven Swaim), and the director of animal programs at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland (Dr. Robert Hoyt)—who were recognized as Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumni at the college’s 111th Annual Conference. Or, perhaps we should consider the four Auburn veterinarians who currently serve as deans of veterinary colleges across the country. These are samples of the thousands of Auburn men and women who work diligently as professionals and public servants with great pride in their alma mater and who advance the Auburn brand of veterinary medicine.
As a perfect illustration, we pay tribute in this issue of the Auburn Veterinarian to Dr. Larry G. Dee (’69), his wife R ita, and Larry’s brothers, James and Jon, both Auburn DVMs. Their father, Dr. Clarence E. Dee, and uncle, Dr. Ivan Fredrickson, established a companion animal practice in Hollywood, Florida, that cultivated a professional relationship with Ms. Eleanor Ritchey, ultimately leading to the endowment that built the Scott-Ritchey Research Center at Auburn. Larry and Rita recently established the Dee Family Endowed Chair, recognizing a faculty member in small animal surgery with a strong commitment to students and faculty service. The Dee family’s commitment personifies the second tenet of the Auburn Creed: “I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.”
Likewise, scientists with an Auburn veterinary connection have a clear commitment to pursuing life-changing research that results in impactful discoveries for the benefit of animals and people. In a major step toward further institutional excellence, Auburn University was recently elevated to an “R1” institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. An R1 designation is reserved for doctoral universities with the highest levels of research activity and is a testament to the outstanding work of our faculty and students, and the power of an Auburn education in cultivating scientific inquiry.
The College of Veterinary Medicine is about you, those who have come before to build our great college, and the students who are our future. We recently unveiled a campaign—Veterinarians Open Doors—to promote the thousands of success stories of Auburn veterinarians and scientists around the globe. Please visit www.veterinariansopendoors.com to share your story and to promote Auburn veterinary medicine. While you’re there, view the college’s exciting new video, and use the hashtag #VeterinariansOpenDoors to share it.