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College of Veterinary Medicine

Dean's Update - February 2013


LunnDear CVM Community and Friends,

I want to begin this message by thanking everyone in the College who contributed to theWolfpack Gives Back, the annual State Employees Combined Campaign that allows employees to make charitable donations to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations. Together, we doubled our participation rate over the previous year and set a record for the College! On January 25th, it was great to see Dr. Barbara Sherman and team members accept an award from Chancellor Woodson on behalf of the College for the achievement. I want to add my sincere thanks to all of the CVM; your gifts send a strong message to our campus and local community about the College’s leadership and engagement.

Staying with the themes of generosity and vision, but on a much sadder note, I want to acknowledge the philanthropy and leadership of Mrs. Jane Seaks, who passed away this past month after a heroic 20 year battle with Parkinson’s disease. Over the years, Jane and her husband Terry Seaks have played many roles in support of the CVM, but most notably they created the Jane Lewis Seaks Distinguished Professorship in Companion Animal Medicine at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which is occupied by Professor Clarke Atkins. We are all hugely grateful to the Seaks family for their generous support and friendship over many years.

A Night of Stars…

On Friday, January 25th, 2013 , the University gathered to celebrate NC State “Evening of Stars” Gala, which is the event where the Alumni Association recognizes distinguished alumni from across the university for their professional and personal accomplishments and their continuing support of NC State.  It was an honor to accompany this year’s CVM awardee, Dr. Laura Rush DVM (’97), PhD and share her recollections of how NC State CVM had prepared her for her distinguished career. Our own Dr. Rush was a registered nurse specializing in cancer patient care before joining the DVM program in 1993. After graduation, she completed clinical training in anatomic pathology, and a doctorate in cancer genetics before becoming an extremely accomplished and NIH funded faculty member at The Ohio State University. While there, she founded and led the Comparative Oncology Program before leaving to become Vice President of a medical marketing firm in 2008, where she advises global healthcare companies like Eli Lilly and GE Healthcare.

As I waited for her turn at the podium, I anticipated that she might highlight any number of our programs in pathology or clinical oncology as having been critical for her future success. Dr. Rush began her acceptance speech by thanking Dr. John Cullen as one of an important group of pathologists here who shaped her career.  She then turned her attention and praise to our Teaching Animal Unit (TAU), singling it out from all her other experiences here. Here is some of what she said:

“The TAU is truly unique and helps set NC State apart from other veterinary colleges. Right outside the doors of the college is a working farm, with all kinds of livestock and equipment. As a student, you are able to get hands-on experience working with these animals every day. It not only enhances your veterinary training, but it teaches you teamwork, responsibility, and gives you exposure to animals in a way that you might not otherwise have. The TAU fosters student opportunities and education to promote not only food animal medicine, but also the role of veterinarians in public health, animal welfare and the time-honored concept of One Health, which represents the shared principles of health between the animals, people and the ecosystem. Other veterinary colleges don’t have this – it’s one of the first things I talk about when I describe the College to someone, and it is part of what makes this College so highly ranked.”

Dr. Rush hit the nail right on the head by highlighting the TAU as our most unique and impactful teaching resource, one which really distinguishes the College. It is timely to give some space to the TAU in the Dean’s Update, as we are making some changes to the management structure in order to fully support the unit for what I hope will be a period of reinvestment. This is a good opportunity to highlight the key role that Dr. Dennis Wages has played as Director of the TAU, leading an outstanding team of staff who both run the farm and help in the daily learning experiences for our students. We have recently formed a new Steering Committee for the TAU, with the charge of providing managerial oversight for the years to come and identifying areas that will need reinvestment in the future. The Steering Committee is made up of key large animal faculty from the College, including Dr. Wages and two alumni, Dr. David Rives (Prestige Farms) and Dr. Randy Jones (Livestock Veterinary Services). In order to preserve and promote one of our most iconic programs, we must be good stewards of the TAU by promoting and supporting its innovative training programs and focusing advancement and alumni efforts in fundraising. 

Alumni Partnership

Wonderful as Dr. Laura Rush is, she is just one of a growing population of gifted talented CVM alumni, all of whom are important to us! On Saturday, April 6th, we will host the 2013 Alumni Picnic and as I discussed with a large group of alumni at the last NAVC meeting we are looking forward to renewing the College’s relationship with alumni to ensure that we maintain a strong partnership. In the coming months we will survey our alumni to find out how we can maintain a strong relationship which both serves alumni, and allows the College to benefit from their input on our affairs. I’m planning on meeting more of you at alumni receptions, as I did at the AAEP last December and at the NAVC in January, and I’m looking forward to the AVMA event in Chicago this summer.

One very important alumni note is to announce that Dr. Ed Smallwood, who has led our alumni program for many years, will be retiring this summer. Needless to say, Dr. Smallwood is an institution! A huge force for promoting our alumni program, and also a huge intellect, author and educator in the field of veterinary anatomy. We hope to establish a program in his name in the near future, and will tell you more soon.

On the Horizon…

We are starting to see the impact of new hiring programs in the college, with searches reaching their conclusion in several of the areas that I’ve mentioned in past letters, such as communication and regenerative medicine. I believe we are entering the steep part of the curve for the many changes that the College will see over the next few years, with new hires, a new size class, a new curriculum, and a renewed focus on impactful biomedical research excellence. The Chancellor will make his annual visit to the College in March, and we plan to highlight our focus on “One Health” as an example of the broad impact of veterinary medicine on society.

There are a number of important College events in the near future. On February 20th, Dr. Peter Doherty of the University of Melbourne will deliver the Litwack lecture at 4 pm during the College’s Annual Research Forum. Dr. Doherty was co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells – a top veterinarian and scientist in other words! We are initiating a Dean’s Lecture Series, bringing world authorities on key issues to the College. I’ve used my prerogative to make the first invitation, and invited my distinguished colleague from Colorado, Dr. Mo Salman to present a lecture on March 20th at 3.30 pm entitled: "One Health, Food Security, and Climate Change: What are the connections?" We also hope you can attend our Open House, which will be held on Saturday, April 27th.  

Looking a little further downstream, we are getting ready to make some significant investments in the Health & Wellness Center, which is our student-led primary and preventive care clinic. We need to expand the resources in the facility to accommodate our growing student body and changing curriculum – so plan on seeing construction crews in that area soon following plans developed by a team led by Dr. Dianne Dunning. For the longer term, we are starting work on a vision for an entirely new teaching facility, a major project that will provide a modern educational platform for the CVM. If you are looking for inspiration as to what this might look like, make a visit to the new Hunt Library on Centennial campus – it’s an inspirational building, showcasing  NC State at its best.

I hope to see you at one of our forthcoming events, perhaps the Litwack lecture in February, the inaugural Dean’s lecture in March, or the Open House in April. Finally, for those of you at the CVM, I hope to see you at the next College Social, which is on Friday, February 22nd at 5 pm.

All the best,
D. Paul Lunn

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D. Paul Lunn, BVSc, MS, PhD MRCVS, Dip. ACVIM
Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine


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