Dean's Update - December 2013
The College is getting ready for the holidays and I want to thank everyone for all their hard work over the previous year. Although some of us are taking time off to visit with family and friends, the clinic certainly isn’t slowing down and we should all spare a thought for those who will be working there round the clock to keep our hospital running over the festive season.
As the year draws to a close, we have a number of big and important changes underway. Amongst those are our leadership searches. First, after a very successful search that attracted outstanding candidates from across the nation, we will hope to announce a new Department Head in Population Health and Pathobiology in the New Year. The new appointee will take over from Dr. Malcolm Roberts. We are also in the midst of an internal search for a new Associate Dean and Director for Veterinary Medical Services, who will take over from Dr. Mike Davidson later in 2014. Both Dr. Roberts and Dr. Davidson are planning on returning to faculty roles after their outstanding leadership service. In addition to these two key positions, the College has had the opportunity to successfully hire many faculty positions over the past 2 years – there are 25 new faces at the College, and we have active searches ongoing for another 10 positions. While some of these are replacements for previous faculty, 15 of these positions are new, and many bring new skill sets, for example in communications training and in educational science.
The College has been able to create these new positions through a variety of funding sources, but by far the most important is through the new enrollment funding that we received in the summers of 2012 and 2013. These funds are there to provide the College with the support it needs to teach our new larger classes. Two of these 100 student classes are now in our program, with two more to come to complete the transition in our four-year program. So far the College has been fortunate to enjoy the support of the State, the UNC system, and importantly, NC State itself so that we have the full funding needed to support these students – we have 2 more years to go in order to be fully funded for our new program. The new funding doesn’t just fund faculty positions; it leads to many new staff hires, and new funds for our changing teaching programs. This is a critical period of change and growth, and we are approaching the halfway point - we should all be proud of what we have achieved so far.
New linear accelerator, up and running
The new state-of-the-art linear accelerator started treating cancer patients in August of this year, ably run by two of those new faculty – Drs. Tracy Geiger and Mike Nolan – and an excellent team of five staff members and their resident, Dr. Matt Arkans. The new machine is called a Varian Trilogy Novalis TX and has already treated over 60 patients since it started operating last summer, and nearly half of these patients received new types of therapies to treat challenging problems that would have been impossible without this new technology. The impacts are enormous; we can now go for a cure in many cases where before the best we could hope for was to reduce suffering while waiting for an inevitable end. We are operating the most advanced equipment in any vet school in the world, and the best in any hospital, human or animal, in Wake County. This means we are able to again collaborate with colleagues at organizations like Duke University Hospital to test and develop new state-of-the-art treatments.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible generosity of donors like Dean and Marilyn Green of Greensboro, and the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation.
On the road
I made two big trips since I last wrote. The first was in August to São Paulo in Brazil, to visit the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science at the University of São Paulo. It was a short but great trip; I was generously hosted by several outstanding faculty and formed a new and important friendship with Dean Enrico Ortolani. Our two veterinary schools have much in common in terms of our clinical, research and teaching programs, which has already led to several student and faculty exchanges. We are hoping to pursue more collaborative projects in the future, especially in areas like regenerative medicine and clinical trials.
My second trip came in November and was to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Africa. This time, I was one of the organizers of a workshop on Infectious Diseases of Working Horses and Donkeys which brought together 35 participants from around the world (http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/conted/havemeyer.html). I was accompanied by two NC State colleagues: Dr. Barbara Jones, who is a graduate student in the College, and Ms. Calley Jones, who is a senior in the DVM program. The great majority of the 115,000,000 global horse and donkey population are working animals and live in low-income countries, receiving little or none of the kind of veterinary care that we are used to here. In many parts of the world these animals literally provide most of the pulling and carrying power, and the work they do profoundly impacts the lives and livelihoods of their owners. The purpose of the conference was to help improve our understanding of the impact of infectious disease on these working horses and donkeys. In addition to attending the conference, Dr. Jones, Calley and I visited equine clinics run by charitable organizations at a nearby veterinary school and saw working animals stricken with diseases that are completely unknown in the USA, but are all too common in much of the world. After the workshop, everyone headed home except for our DVM student who stayed on to work in these clinics for another week. When Calley got back she gave an outstanding presentation to the College about the experience.
This is a great example of how opportunities to travel can really benefit our students, exposing them to new possibilities, and the realities of animal lives in other parts of our planet. The impact of these trips is big and long lasting, and it is something we want more of our DVM students to have a chance to do. We are already proud that roughly 25% of our students have a study abroad experience during their DVM program, but our goal needs to be 50% or more. Our founding Dean, Terry Curtin, shared this vision and set up a scholarship in his name to support this kind of impactful travel. Kathy and I contribute to this fund every year – we’d love to see more support for this program.
AVMA Accreditation time – we’re up next
As many of you know, the College is scheduled to be reviewed by the AVMA Council on Education (COE) in 2014. The purpose of the accreditation process is to evaluate our professional DVM program to ensure it meets the required standards in veterinary medical education and that our students are prepared for their first jobs in the profession.
The accreditation process occurs every seven years. There are several key components to the process. The first is to prepare a comprehensive self-study report – we’ve been working on ours for several months and it will be ready to send out in a little more than a month from now. This is followed by a five-day site visit by a team sent by the AVMA COE who verify that the self-study report is accurate and report back to the COE on our program and facilities. Our site visit is scheduled for March 23-27, 2014. To get ready we’ve been working hard to ensure our facilities are in good repair, that we are maintaining safety and biosecurity standards, and that we are ready to respond to the site visit team’s questions. The third and final stage in the process is that the site visit team report is considered by the AVMA COE who decide whether we have our full accreditation renewed for another 7 years. We need everyone at the College to be involved and have a solid understanding of the accreditation process. Please visit the AVMA website (https://www.avma.org/professionaldevelopment/education/accreditation/colleges/pages/coe-pp-overview-of-the-coe.aspx) for more information on accreditation, accreditation standards, and the site-visit.
Wrapping up the year
Looking back on the fall, we had another very successful NCVC meeting in Raleigh in partnership with the NCVMA. At that meeting I met with the Alumni Board to discuss how we can increase communication and engagement between alumni and the College. To try and make this happen we are going to meet with the board every quarter and develop practical plans to grow the partnership. One way for me to get to know more alumni is to spend time at their practices, and I had a chance to do this at NCVMA president Dr. David Linzey’s practice in Boone in October. I’m open to invitations for 2014 if anyone wants to have me see their practice with them for the day? While we are on the subject of visits in and around North Carolina, in November, I travelled with Dean Rich Linton of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to visit Prestage Farms. We enjoyed lunch with President Bill Prestage, and his sons John and Scott, both Vice Presidents in the company. We had a great day, learned a lot, and had a chance to talk about how we can grow our partnerships in the poultry and pork industry.
In closing, I hope we’ll see you at the 2014 Open House – please mark your calendars for March 29th! Best wishes for the Holidays to you and your families.
All the best,
D. Paul Lunn
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