Defining Pre-eminence for Illinois Veterinary Medicine

Feb 5, 2016 / Message from the Dean

This message appeared in the March 2016 issue of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association Epitome.

Like a roadmap for success, the plan will guide us through challenging times

In the midst of constantly changing circumstances, a successful organization remains focused on its goals.

There is certainly no lack of change facing our college right now: the state budget is in limbo and the national and global landscape for veterinary education is shifting.

[cover of the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan]

The strategic plan was adopted by the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine in December 2015.

The very good news from your College of Veterinary Medicine is that we have recently formulated goals for the next five years in the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. The plan also includes our vision for the college:

We will be a pre-eminent public college of veterinary medicine, provide a transformative educational experience for our students, create and communicate knowledge that changes the world, deliver outstanding clinical service to our patients and clients, and pursue excellence in all our endeavors.

As dean, it’s my top priority to keep our team focused on achieving the goals that we established together. Because the Illinois veterinary community is both our partner and one of the key constituencies we serve, I am eager for each of you to know about our plan and to see how you are part of our progress and our success.

What does it mean to be a pre-eminent public college of veterinary medicine? It means:

  • We will be the best at what we do.
  • We will have impact locally, nationally, and globally.
  • We will be recognized by our peers as leaders.

The college plan follows the framework of the campus strategic plan, identifying goals for learning, discovery, public engagement, and economic development. The strategies identified for each of these four goals show how our college will achieve pre-eminence. Metrics adopted for each goal will be used to measure our success.

Goal 1. Expand and support nationally recognized research programs

Research provides the foundation for our education and service activities. It is our most powerful tool for delivering global impact. Strategies for achieving this goal include hiring more faculty with a strong focus on research, exploring whether to combine our two basic science departments to create a more prominent research presence, aligning college research with areas of campus research strength, and supporting faculty members in pursuing research opportunities, from clinical trials to large externally funded grants.

Goal 2. Provide transformative veterinary and biomedical educational experiences in a vibrant and diverse learning community

Strategies related to our educational mission focus on efficiency, innovation, and collaboration. We will invest in personnel, training, technology, and infrastructure to deliver a learner-centered, state-of-the-art curriculum.

At the same time, we will create distinctive Illinois programs that make credentials from our college coveted in the marketplace. Your Illinois degree will set you apart in the job market. And we will expand our online offerings and seek new partners in education both on the Illinois campus and around the world.

Goal 3. Provide excellent comprehensive veterinary medical and diagnostic services, public engagement and outreach, and continuing education programming at the state, national, and international levels

The college has a very broad portfolio in its service mission. Chief among our priorities is the delivery of outstanding clinical and diagnostic services. We also aim to be seen as the premier source for veterinary information for practitioners, animal producers, and the general public. Offering outreach events that unite alumni, volunteers, students, and other stakeholders will provide value to these groups and reinforce their bond with the college.

Our strengths in wildlife medicine, ecosystem health, public health, livestock-based food production, and food safety may be leveraged to establish a cross-disciplinary center of excellence that delivers benefits for many constituencies.

Goal 4. Promote a supportive, respectful, and productive working and learning environment

We will serve as good stewards of the college’s assets and resources, particularly personnel, our most valuable resource. Collaborations with corporate entities represent a possible avenue for advancing clinical trials and other research, as well as graduate student funding. We will also implement a plan to actively recruit a more diverse work force and student body.

Ultimately, we will actively enhance the reputation of the college.

Like a roadmap for success, this plan will guide us through the challenging times ahead. When your College of Veterinary Medicine is widely recognized for leadership in all aspects of our mission, our reputation and prestige bring credit to alumni and referrers and our initiatives create opportunity for the Illinois veterinary community.

Fond Farewell to Departing Leaders

As many of you know, a number of valued team members have recently retired or moved to take on career opportunities elsewhere. I hope you’ll join me in thanking Dr. Karen Campbell, Dr. Mark Kuhlenschmidt, and Dr. Allan Paul, who all retired in December, for their decades of service and leadership. Dr. Duncan Ferguson, who stepped down as Comparative Biosciences department head in December, will retire at the end of this semester.

We also wish all the best to Dr. Ralph Hamor, who is moving to a faculty position at the veterinary college at the University of Florida; to Dr. Mark Mitchell, who is returning to Louisiana State University to lead its Veterinary Teaching Hospital; and to Brenda Betts, our associate dean for advancement, who has accepted a position at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

We are grateful for the contributions these outstanding individuals have made to our college. In part because of the foundations they helped to create, I have confidence that the college will achieve its vision.