The Year in Review
Dear friends and colleagues,
In the closing weeks of 2019, we are especially grateful for our college community’s impressive achievements, made possible by the collective commitment and dedicated efforts of our faculty and staff, students, alumni, donors, referring veterinarians, and special friends of the college.
Following are just a few highlights of our remarkable accomplishments this year.
In 2019, we saw significant changes in the leadership of the college.
- Cyril Clarke, Virginia Tech’s interim executive vice president and provost since November 2017, and former dean of the college from 2013 to 2017, was named Virginia Tech’s permanent executive vice president and provost as of Jan. 1.
- After a national search, M. Daniel Givens was named the fifth dean of the college, effective June 1, 2020. The associate dean for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University, Givens has held various roles at Auburn, including acting head of the Department of Pathobiology and interim associate dean for academic affairs, before assuming his current position in 2013.
- David Wong was appointed head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences on July 1. Previously a professor of equine medicine at Iowa State University, Wong replaced Kevin Pelzer, who was serving as interim department head.
- A professor of immunology, Xiaoping Zhu was named associate dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine's College Park, Maryland, campus and chair of the Department of Veterinary Medicine in the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. A longtime faculty member in the department, Zhu had been serving as interim department head since September 2017.
- Formerly with University Advancement, Sandy Torget was named the college’s director of advancement, leading our advancement team.
Along with leadership changes, the college has continued to evolve, sustaining positive, productive progress.
- Having established a reputation for excellence among prospective students, the college’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, which welcomed its 39th class this fall, has ranked second nationally in the number of veterinary program applicants for five consecutive years. The Class of 2023 received 1,853 applicants for 120 available spots. With a mean GPA of 3.57, the class is academically strong with a good balance of gender (31% male) and ethnic diversity (23%).
- The college’s research program received nearly $9 million in awards for FY19 and experienced a 4.4% increase in research expenditures over FY18 — a five-year high for the college — and a 35% increase in federal expenditures over FY18.
- Gifts and donations to the college increased from $1,557,137 in FY18 to $6,111,699 in FY19. On Giving Day, Virginia Tech’s annual 24-hour fundraising event in mid-March, the college received more than $32,000, primarily targeted toward student scholarships. In October, we received an anonymous $10 million estate gift to support small animal clinical research, a significant boost to kick off our next fundraising campaign, which officially launched in October.
- The college has experienced considerable growth in its academic, clinical, and research programs in recent years, including a new bachelor of science in public health, which transferred in its first students this fall and is currently recruiting new students for the next academic year. Administered through the Public Health Program within the Department of Population Health Sciences, the degree program is positioned to evolve our overarching commitment to One Health. Professor Kerry Redican will direct this new undergraduate degree program that will be housed in a newly remodeled section of Wallace Hall.
- A state-of-the-art clinical and research hub, the Comparative Oncology Research Center, under construction on the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences Campus in Roanoke, Virginia, is on track to begin seeing patients in June 2020. As the new home of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s medical oncology service, the center will be the region’s only radiation oncology service for pets. Joining the oncology team this year were Joanne Tuohy, a surgical oncologist who will develop CORC’s surgery service; and Ilektra Athanasiadi, a radiation oncologist who will oversee CORC’s linear accelerator.
- We continue to move toward the expansion and remodeling of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the Blacksburg campus. In light of the consistently high quality of care provided by our faculty, staff, and students, VTH client feedback surveys — which are gathered and reported monthly by CalPro Research — routinely place us in the top tier among our peer referral and primary care centers. We deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Equine Medicine Center faculty and staff who put in long hours, provide compassionate care to our patients and their owners, and serve as great role models for our students.
- Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, held a groundbreaking in early November for the newest addition to its hospital campus: the Steven and Jane Hale Indoor Arena. Marking the final component of EMC’s “New Horizon” operational plan, the new facility will advance the center’s ability to treat sport horses.
- The college’s alumni and friends and our hospitals’ grateful clients continued to provide critical support to fund facility improvements, groundbreaking clinical research, and state-of-the-art equipment, allowing our college to advance knowledge and deliver innovative treatments that improve animal lives.
- Sponsored by the college’s Alumni Society, our first-ever Continuing Education Conference and Alumni Reunion Weekend was held in August, welcoming alumni from all years and programs for a day of CE and activities. The support and engagement of our alumni play a crucial role in advancing the college and shaping the next generation of students and professionals. During the weekend’s activities, Bill Tyrrell (DVM ’92) received our Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award, and Claire Simeone (DVM '11) received our Outstanding Recent Alumni Award.
- The college hosted its fifth annual VetTRAC Summer Program, a week of tours, lectures, experiential learning, and career exploration for students from underrepresented populations interested in veterinary medicine. This successful enrichment program is one of three initiatives developed by the college as part of InclusiveVT, Virginia Tech’s approach to diversity and inclusion.
As always, your support and contributions during 2019 have been vital to our success. Looking ahead, we anticipate another outstanding year of learning, service, and discovery that benefits the well-being of animals, people, and communities.
Best wishes for a happy holiday and bountiful new year!
Dr. Gregory B. Daniel, Interim Dean