Whiteley Returns to Illinois as College Dean
After a national
search, Dr. Herbert Whiteley was selected
in April to lead the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Herbert Whiteley
When Dr. Whiteley
takes the reins in August, becoming the sixth dean in the College's
53-year history, he'll find many familiar faces. In 1984, after finishing
his PhD, he came to the College as an assistant professor in the Department
of Veterinary Pathobiology and stayed for over a decade. In 1990 he
was promoted to associate professor and became an affiliate member of
a neurosciences research group based in the Beckman Institute.
Dr. Whiteley leaves
not one but three jobs at the University of Connecticut: head of the
Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, director of the Connecticut
Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (both positions he filled when he joined
UConn in 1995), and interim director of the Office of Animal Research
Services, a role he took on in 2000.
Dr. Whiteley is
excited about his return to the College, and notes, "I want to
thank Ted Valli for the fine work he's done as dean over the past 11
On a recent visit
to Urbana, he spoke about his background, his views on veterinary education,
and his goals for the College.
I consider veterinary
professional education the broadest and best in biomedical science.
It covers the gamut of living organisms, from bacteria to toxins to
animal species, and encompasses sciences ranging from complex molecular
biology to epidemiology to applied medicine to public health and economics.
My own interest
in living things probably developed when I was a child. I grew up in
suburban Connecticut, but in the summers worked on a cousin's dairy
farm in Pennsylvania.
Then, as an undergraduate
studying animal and veterinary science at the University of Maine, I
spent three summers working at a biomedical research laboratory in Bar
Harbor, Maine. My first exposure to pathology was when I worked in the
necropsy lab while I was earning my veterinary degree at Purdue. I had
a very good experience there.
in 1977 I spent 3 years in Massachusetts doing James Herriot-type work.
I saw small animal and dairy patients and did race track work on the
side. From there I went to Colorado State University to complete a PhD
in pathology, specializing in ocular development, and a morphologic
I hope to encourage veterinary students to broaden their perspective
of the world around them. The four-year DVM program is a time for students
to explore opportunities and for their faculty and mentors to instill
process continues as new graduates work their first jobs under the guidance
of seasoned practitioners, whose role as educators is invaluable.
Being in practice
is a great experience because it teaches you about responsibility to
patients and clients and it builds communication and people skills.
But veterinarians have a world of opportunities in addition to practice.
They contribute to all facets of society through work in government,
industry, the legal profession, and so on.
I'd like to see
students keep an open mind about their careers. You never know where
you'll end up! I have friends who started in food animal practice and
are now molecular biologists.
In addition, I
hope to spark students' enthusiasm for being part of society outside
of work, to serve their communities on school boards and so forth.
and review are already in progress at the College. As a faculty we will
shape the curriculum to provide students with the basis to grow as practitioners,
as biomedical and comparative medical scientists, and as individuals.
If we provide them the ability to learn and reason, they'll continue
to advance the profession.
Future of the College
I'm excited to come back to Illinois because of the University's
reputation as one of the nation's top public institutions. This campus
has so much going on in the biological sciences, in engineering, and
in technology, as well as strong ties with industry. I want to promote
collaborations, both within the College and across the campus.
In the first year
my job as dean is to listen and to help faculty and staff get where
they want to go. I've already started visiting units, and I want to
hear from everybody.
I'm very interested
in strategic planning. We need to evaluate where we are now and project
the future of the profession 10 to 15 years from now. How we can be
An important first
step is to identify, within departments and as a faculty, areas of programmatic
focus. With many faculty positions currently open, we have the opportunity
to change direction. We can build nationally recognized collaborative
research and educational teams.
I'd like to raise
public awareness of our College's activities and to develop a mix of
funding sources from federal agencies, industry, foundations, and private
donors. Having programmatic areas of expertise that are well known will
make it easier to recruit professional and graduate students. Stable
funding sources, too, are key to encouraging post-DVM studies.
Here are some of
the goals that top my agenda:
diversity in the profession. One way to start is to develop recruitment
methods that target new audiences at the high school and pre-high school
in all areasresearch, teaching, and public service. Scholarly
activities include documenting, evaluating, and communicating our work
and staying at the cutting edge.
veterinarians to enter research and academics. We can promote that by
creating a stimulating environment within the College.
I have is to build a sense of community within the College and create
a work environment that's exciting. This goes for the professional students,
faculty, and staff: people should want to be here, and they should be