2008 State of the College Letter
Dear members of the College family,
As is my custom each fall, I am sending both an update on the state of the College and my sincere thanks for the part you each play in the College’s successes.
Since 2006 we have looked to five strategic priorities as the markers of our progress.
The DVM Program
Educating veterinarians is our core mission. I hope by now you have had a chance to learn about—if not help create—the Illinois Integrated Professional Curriculum, the revolutionary rethinking of how the science and art of veterinary medicine is taught at Illinois. Integration of clinical and basic sciences is the hallmark of the new curriculum. Students will spend blocks of time in the hospital in each of the four years, and courses will combine basic science and clinically relevant material.
- Phase I of this new framework for the curriculum was approved by the faculty in April. Learning objectives are currently being identified for all new courses. By December 8 the revised curriculum must be submitted to campus for review if we are to implement it next fall.
- Digital images have replaced microscopes and slide sets in first-year histology.
Translational Biomedical Research
Simply put, this strategic initiative means improving health for animals and people. Our faculty are leaders in research that translates basic science discoveries into health applications.
- New faculty include Megan Mahoney in veterinary biosciences; Margarethe Hoenig, Bob O’Brien, Mo O’Brien, Pam Wilkins, and Jackie Wypij in veterinary clinical medicine; and Kuldeep Singh in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
- Our College is instrumental in developing the campus’s new Division of Biomedical Sciences, designed to raise the profile of Illinois as a powerhouse in biomedical research.
- A revitalized Vet Med Scholars Program, designed to groom veterinarians for research careers, welcomed four first-year students who will pursue dual DVM/PhD degrees.
- This fall our TBR Seminar Series features outstanding speakers on animal models of disease and advances in biomedical imaging.
Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine
Our new Chicago headquarters will open in the spring at 2242 West Harrison. This site in the Illinois Medical District, two miles west of the Loop, will initially consist of a small animal primary care teaching facility. Long-term goals for this venture include augmenting our specialty caseload in Urbana and serving as a venue from which to recruit students from underrepresented groups, attract specialty faculty, collaborate with biomedical researchers in Chicago, and connect with new donors.
- Construction bids are in, and we have selected vendors for veterinary software and equipment.
- Veterinarians, a business manager, and technicians will be hired within the next several months.
Our facilities must support the needs of our people and programs, and our social and intellectual environment should be diverse, inclusive, and stimulating.
- Energy costs are a growing worry. In the past fiscal year our College spent $3 million—more than $200K per month—on energy. We await authorization from campus to hire an “energy service company” to analyze our facilities and recommend ways to gain efficiencies.
- The “Orange Blue and Green” committee, an ad hoc group of faculty, students, and staff, is igniting a spirit of environmentalism and energy-awareness throughout the College.
- We addressed safety issues by adding a crosswalk to connect the lot east of Lincoln Avenue.
- A new student organization, Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE), is on the scene, promoting socio-cultural awareness in veterinary medicine.
- Students also partnered with ISVMA members to lobby Springfield on behalf of the veterinary profession.
- In April the “You Are Here” fund-raising campaign prompted a rise from 8 percent to 21 percent in faculty and staff who donate to the College. Next spring we’ll shoot to boost that number.
- We advanced to within $12 million of our Brilliant Futures campaign goal of $35 million.
One Medicine/One Health Initiative
This broad initiative encompasses research and training focused on public health as well as research, education, and service in the areas of zoo medicine and environmental health.
- Twenty-four veterinary students have enrolled in the joint DVM/MPH degree program. The pioneers from the Class of 2008 are currently finishing their MPH degrees in Chicago.
- New electives in public health include a 4-week senior clinical rotation and a course focusing on public policy at the interface of human, animal, and ecosystem health.
- Our College is organizing a mock food-borne disease outbreak in November to help the Illinois Department of Public Health evaluate its emergency response preparations.
The past year has put a number of faculty members in the spotlight. Among recent successes, Dr. Marie-Claude Hofmann received an Independent Scientist Award from the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Humphrey Yao received a 2008 New Investigator Award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction; Dr. David Williams received a prestigious honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki Veterinary Faculty; and national office holders include Dr. Karen Campbell, president of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, the recently retired Dr. Ann Johnson, president of the Western Veterinary Conference, and Dr. Dick Wallace, president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Dr. Matt Wallig will be honored with a Presidential Award at next month’s Annual Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.
The highlights presented above are just a few of the triumphs happening daily at the College because of the hard work and dedication of each of you. Your work provides the foundation for achieving our vision of national and international leadership in biomedical and veterinary education, research, and public engagement.
The year ahead, as both the Chicago Center and the new DVM curriculum become realities, will bring unprecedented opportunity for recognition and reward. With your continued dedication, our College family looks forward to the challenges and celebrations the future holds.
Herbert E. Whiteley