Message from the Dean

The State of the College, 2024

Dean Constable poses with a dozen or so vet students in front of gate with large Block I logo

This message will appear in the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association Epitome.

If you attended one of our recent alumni receptions at national veterinary meetings, you probably heard me speak about what’s been going on at our college. If you did not have that opportunity, this column fills the gap.

I’m very proud of the hard work of our amazing faculty, staff, and students over the 10 years I have had the privilege of serving as dean. Tremendous changes, challenges, and growth have affected the entire veterinary profession over that period. The strong position our college enjoys today owes a great debt to our loyal alumni and valued veterinary community in Illinois.

Transformative Veterinary Education

Demand for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is extremely high, as is demand for our program. In the current admissions cycle, 2,296 verified applicants—or one applicant in five from the entire national pool—applied to Illinois.

Our graduates’ success in passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) provides evidence of the quality of the Illinois education. Over the past 9 years, our average NAVLE pass rate hovers a statistically significant 1.9 percentage points above that of all other test takers.

And our graduates are in demand. Our Class of 2023 reported a mean of 3.6 employment offers before graduation. The mean reported annual starting salary was $111,919.

Post-DVM Educational Opportunities

The college entered the online education space more than 25 years ago, and we continue to push the envelope in that realm. Our i-Learning Center now offers a fully online master’s degree as well as a Certificate in Veterinary Science. Both programs give learners flexible and affordable avenues for advancing their career goals.

Our newest initiative, the Center for Veterinary Innovation, seeks to leverage emerging technologies and veterinary expertise to transform the delivery of veterinary care. We envision improving not only animal health and well-being through this venture, but also the emotional and financial well-being of veterinary practitioners.

You’ll be happy to learn, however, that we have not abandoned the in-person continuing education model! Our annual Fall Conference returns this year on September 27 and 28. We will host the 1.5-day conference within our Basic Sciences Building. You may wish to arrive on Thursday, September 26, to recruit future DVMs at our popular Hire an Illini Job Fair, and to stay through the afternoon of Saturday, September 28, for the annual golf outing—another great opportunity to meet current students.

Some Challenges

One of our biggest struggles, which many of you can appreciate, is recruiting veterinary staff to meet our needs. We have been fortunate over the past 5 years to have expanded our faculty numbers by 17, mostly in positions to support clinical education and service within our hospital and diagnostic laboratory. Still, we have many current openings for veterinary specialists and others interested in educating the next generation of veterinarians.

Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara, currently a professor at The Ohio State University, will join us as associate dean for research in the fall. Our research funding has grown by 176% over the past 10 years. Searches for two additional leadership roles—associate/assistant dean for clinical services and director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory—are scheduled to wrap up this semester.

Your Support

The partnership of our veterinary colleagues throughout the state remains a great asset to the college. Because of your referrals, our students benefit from a diverse and numerous patient caseload. Among U.S. veterinary colleges, we rank in the top 10 for our caseload in cats, companion birds, horses, ruminants, other animal, and wildlife, as well as our equine ambulatory practice and , and we have strong numbers for all other species.

We also thank you for your participation in mentoring students through internships, assisting with applicant interviews, using our diagnostic lab services, and giving generously to scholarships.

Gifts from Drs. Wes Bieritz, John Coyne, Ed McGinniss, David Reed, and K.T. Wright have supported not only student scholarships but also much-needed renovations within the college. Facilities improvements in our 50-year-old hospital allow students to learn in an environment that demonstrates the current standard of veterinary care. We also need excellent facilities to recruit the best faculty and students. Over the past 5 years, the college has invested nearly $34 million in facilities renovations and equipment upgrades.

Thank you for your role in allowing the College of Veterinary Medicine to thrive and contribute to the well-being of our state and nation. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming alumni receptions as well as at this year’s Fall Conference in September!