Vital Signs
November 2005

From Silver to Gold

Dr. Gerhardt G. SchurigDear Friends and Colleagues,
The signs of an Appalachian winter are beginning to emerge here in Blacksburg, and "HokieNation" is still trying to recover from having its national title aspirations dashed by the Miami Hurricanes. Here in our own college of veterinary medicine, we are continuing to make important progress on many strategic fronts.
As you will see below, we have made several key employee hires, and we are developing systems to better care for those who have made us what we are.
In a recent meeting, our Director of Alumni Relations and Student Affairs Lynn Young observed that our college is going from silver to gold; that we are in a state of continuous improvement as we move from our recently concluded 25th anniversary celebration toward that distant 50th benchmark down the road seems very apparent to many of us.
We are building our capacity for discovery and scholarship, we are enhancing our international activities, and we are making progress with our building and expansion plans for the future. In fact, we hope to submit an NIH grant early next year that will provide platform funding for our first building.
I recently had the opportunity to spend the better part of a day working with Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Member Mrs. Shelley Duke of Middleburg. Mrs. Duke also met with our College Relations Committee, and I came away from the experience feeling very positive about the future. Mrs. Duke is a powerful advocate of Virginia Tech and I think she has a special understanding of the history and the aspirations of our college.
Our college continues to define itself as a major part of its parent universities, both Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, and there are many signs that we are on the verge of substantial achievement on many fronts.
One such example is the recent media briefing on animal emergencies and Avian Influenza H5N1 presented at the National Press Club by a half-dozen of our faculty members. It seems to me that this event speaks volumes about the important role veterinary medicine is playing in our 21st century world, and the vital role our college is playing in this profession.
Gerhardt G. Schurig
In This Issue...
EMC Patron Honored with Rare University Designation
VMRCVM to House K-9 Memorial
VMRCVM Faculty Brief International Media at National Press Club
McCutcheon named VMRCVM Assistant Dean for Research, Assumes EMC Post
Kaur's NSF African Research Continues
Human Resources, Budget Coordinators Join VMRCVM Team
EMC's Brown on Front Lines of Gulf Coast Disaster
Bioterrorism Conference Scheduled for Hotel Roanoke
Maryland Presents Community Vet School Program
2005-2006 Veterinary Memorial Fund Grants Awarded
Equine Medical Center Embracing Organizational Development Activities
VMRCVM Alums, Friends Tailgate before Hokies/Terps Gridiron Clash

EMC Patron Honored with Rare University Designation

Shelley Duke and Tom TillarMrs. Shelley Duke, head of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's Advisory Council and a member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, was installed as an honorary Virginia Tech alumna during a celebration at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
"Virginia Tech has become a significant part of my life," said Mrs. Duke, who told a crowd of approximately 55 distinguished guests that she was "touched and flattered" by their presence.
"Many more significant benefactors have preceded me, and many more will follow," said Mrs. Duke, who praised Virginia Tech as a university on the move that invites friendship and partnership with the private sector.
She thanked Equine Medical Center Founding Director Dr. G. Frederick Fregin for fostering the origins of her relationship with the center. It was the volunteer work she did in the early 1990's at the Equine Medical Center that ultimately led to the very substantial relationship she has developed with Virginia Tech.
She also thanked Virginia Tech Vice President for Development and University Relations Dr. Elizabeth A. Flanagan and Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger before acknowledging the special support for all of her interests and activities that has been provided by her husband Phil.
President Steger read and presented a formal resolution describing the honor and the reasons it is being accorded during the ceremony.
"When she makes a commitment to something, she really makes a difference," said President Steger.
Mr. Ben Davenport, Rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, read a letter of congratulations from Virginia Governor Mark Warner during the ceremony.
"The center is thriving and moving forward," he said, partially because of the tireless work Mrs. Duke has performed on its behalf.
He added that Mrs. Duke has brought a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to her new role on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors as well.
Mrs. Duke and a delegation of friends and colleagues from the Equine Medical Center and Fauquier County area were delayed when the bus they were riding to Blacksburg on suffered mechanical problems.
"Horses are more reliable," quipped Vice President of Alumni Relations Dr. Tom Tillar, during formal remarks he presented during the ceremony. Tillar told Mrs. Duke and the assembled guests that "it's your loyalty and dedication that we are honoring today."
Mrs. Duke serves as chairman of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's Advisory Council, she is a member of Ut Prosim, the Legacy Society, the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, and Women and Leadership in Philanthropy.
She was appointed to serve on the university's Board of Visitors by Virginia Governor Mark Warner earlier this year.
She and her husband Phil reside on Rallywood Farm in Fauquier County, where she raises award-winning hunters.
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Ingo and his memorial serviceVMRCVM to House K-9 Memorial

The Virginia Police Work Dog Association (VPWDA) and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) at Virginia Tech have announced plans to create a memorial to honor police dogs killed in the line of duty. The proposed memorial statue will be installed on the veterinary college's campus at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) is also participating in the project.
There are an estimated 250-300 working police dogs in Virginia, according to Officer John Hoover of the Roanoke City Police Department. Hoover, a certified master trainer with the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) and a master trainer with the VPWDA, has been working to develop interest in such a memorial for several years.
"It's tough to find the words that describe the incredible role these dogs play in law enforcement and public safety," said Hoover, who frequently conducts training sessions for police handlers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. "They put their lives on the line every day, just like our officers. They are partners and they are heroes."
Hoover said that about a half-dozen animals have been killed in the line of duty since they began playing an active role in Virginia law enforcement about 35 years ago.
Most recently, a nine-year old Albemarle County Police Department German Shepherd named Ingo was killed during the apprehension of a burglary suspect that possibly saved the life of handler Officer Andy Gluba. In February 2005, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association posthumously awarded Ingo its annual "Animal Hero Award" in recognition of the dog's heroism.
"We're honored to partner with the law enforcement community on a project that celebrates such a noble cause," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "Our society has become so deeply involved with animals as pets that we sometimes forget about the important contributions made every day by working and service animals. Veterinarians have an important responsibility to keep these working animals healthy and vital."
Police dogs and their handlers must undergo extensive training and can earn a variety of certifications. For example, the North American Police Work Dog Association provides certifications in the categories of patrol or criminal apprehension, accelerant, bloodhound, cadaver, explosive, narcotics, tracking and trailing, utility and wildlife.
Since 1983, the NAPWDA has certified more than 17,000 canine teams in the United States and about 3800 of those are still functioning with valid accreditations, according to the organization's web-site.
The Virginia K-9 Memorial will be financed from private donations, according to Hoover, who is one of three NAPWDA master trainers in Virginia and only 54 in the nation, according to the NAPWDA. Interested citizens as well as organizations and corporations familiar with the law enforcement and security communities are invited to participate in the project through charitable donations.
Those interested can forward contributions to the Virginia Police K-9 Memorial Fund, Office of Development and Public Relations, VMRCVM, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061.
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VMRCVM Faculty Brief International Media at National Press Club

A faculty panel at the National Press ClubSeveral VMRCVM professors participated in a media briefing on emergency preparedness for Animals and Avian Influenza H5N1 held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on November 8, 2005.
About a dozen media representing organizations like Reuters, Bloomberg News Service, UPI, Scripps Howard News Service, Knight Ridder-Newspapers, Japan's Kyodo News, and others showed up for the update which was principally organized by the University of Maryland's Ellen Ternes and Drs. Bettye Walters and Ted Mashima of the college's Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine.
The first session, entitled "Emergency Preparedness for Animals," focused on issues ranging from the animal health dimensions of naural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina to animal disease related bioterrorism. Dr. Jennifer Brown of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, who was deployed twice during the past hurricane season as a member of the AVMA VMAT-2 team, discussed her experiences (see related story in this issue). Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology discussed vaccine development work underway in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and CPCVM Associate Director Dr. Ted Mashima moderated the session and discussed disasters and zoo animals and wildlife.
The second session focused on Avian Influenza H5N1 and efforts to address the risk it poses to human and animal health. College Park campus professor Dr. Nathaniel Tablante discussed implications on producers. Dr. Daniel Perez, considered one of the nation's leading experts on the disorder, provided an overview of his research in the area, and Dr. Ed. Hsu of the University of Maryland at College Park discussed the federal government's human health preparedness plan developed in response to the H5N1 threat. Dr. Francois Elvinger, associate professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, presented an overview of disease detection and surveillance systems designed to recognize and deal with public health threats. That session was moderated by Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the CPCVM.
"I'm very pleased that these faculty members took time from their busy schedules to participate in this effort," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "This activity is an important step toward educating the general public about the important role that veterinary medicine plays in society."
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McCutcheon named VMRCVM Assistant Dean for Research, Assumes EMC Post

Dr. Jill McCutcheonDr. Jill McCutcheon has joined the faculty of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine as Assistant Dean for Research. A veterinary pathologist, she will be based at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg.
McCutcheon brings a strong record of achievement in academic leadership, teaching and research to the position.
"We're pleased to welcome Dr. McCutcheon to this key position," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "Her experience and scientific accomplishments are well suited to helping us achieve the goals we have set for achievements in equine research."
Prior to joining the college, McCutcheon served as Acting Provost and Vice President Academic and Acting Associate Vice President Academic at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Prior to that, she served as acting dean of the Ontario Veterinary College and assistant dean for undergraduate academic affairs.
McCutcheon earned her DVM degree from the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College in1983 and her Ph.D. in pathology from Washington State University in 1990.
McCutcheon has been recognized with the 2003 Presidential Distinguished Professor Award at the University of Guelph and she was awarded the SmithKline Beecham Research Award for Excellence in Research in 1993. She conducted a Medical Research Council of Canada Fellowship from 1985-1990. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
McCutcheon has been primary or co-author on about 50 scholarly publications and six academic textbooks and textbook chapters, and made numerous professional presentations.
McCutcheon's husband, Dr. Raymond Geor, has recently been appointed to the Paul Mellon Distinguished Chair of Agriculture in Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As such, he will supervise the operation of the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center, a 420 acre research center that focuses on equine nutrition.
McCutcheon will head graduate studies at the EMC, and develop a collaborative research program between the MARE and the EMC. VMRCVM and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences leaders are each interested in working more closely together on programs to benefit the Virginia horse industry, according to VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. She will also work to establish collaborative programs with regional industries and universities.
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Kaur's NSF African Research Continues

Dr. Taranjit KaurA National Science Foundation sponsored research project in Tanzania being conducted by University Veterinarian and Director of Laboratory Animal Resources Dr. Taranjit Kaur continues to examine how tourism is affecting wildlife.
Some of the work was featured during a November 13 telecast of "Wild Chronicles," a National Geographic produced television show that airs on the Public Broadcasting System (WBRA - 6:30 p.m.)
Jason Swenson, a Virginia Tech undergraduate student working on Kaur's project was in Tanzania during the summer of 2005 when the show's producers came through.
Their visit coincided with a mysterious outbreak of an upper respiratory disease affecting some of the estimated 700 chimpanzees that inhabit Tanzania's Mahale Mountain National Park.
Only about 60 of the highly endangered chimpanzees are habituated and tolerate scientific observation, Kaur said.
About 20-25 of the endangered animals were affected by the disease, Kaur said, and two infants perished. One mother carried her infant for three days, unable to accept her baby's death.
A veterinarian on site harvested tissues and Kaur coordinated their submission to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for pathological examination.
At press-time, it is not known whether or not the infectious disease affecting the chimpanzees can affect people as well.
Because of genetic similarities between chimps and people, both are highly susceptible to influenza, tuberculosis and several other infectious diseases.
Kaur's $726,476 grant, entitled "Bridging the Gaps Using Bush-to-Base Bioinformatics, Geographic Information Systems, and a Program Called "READ-IT" seeks to develop a wholistic system for the integration of technology, research and education as part of an overarching effort to study and protect chimpanzees.
She is helping the Tanzanian National Parks develop science-based management strategies that will protect the free-ranging chimpanzee population from tourism related problems like disease transmission, habitat destruction, and competition for resources.
"One of the things we have learned from this is that we cannot do high-tech science under low-tech field conditions," said Kaur.
She is working with Tech's College of Architecture and a Christiansburg firm called Solar Connexion to create a state-of-the-art field research station where solar energy will be harvested enabling the research team to operate a modest, but ecologically friendly diagnostic laboratory on the premises.
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Human Resources, Budget Coordinators Join VMRCVM Team

Two new staff professionals have been hired as part of VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig's commitment to elevate the quality and efficiency of the VMRCVM's human resources and financial management programs.
April Hylton has been hired as the college's first Human Resources Coordinator and Carla McGuire has been hired as Budget Coordinator. Both report directly to Assistant Dean for Administration Mike Harness.
McGuire most recently served as a Contracts and Grants Administrator in Virginia Tech's Office of Sponsored Programs and as administrator for the Institute for Cultural Policy & Practice at Virginia Tech. She held a variety of other positions earlier in her career, including several in sales and management with American Airlines. She earned a B.A. from the University of Texas.
April Hylton comes to the college from Hollingsworth & Voce Company in Floyd, Virginia, where she served for the past 14 years as senior human resources specialist and business systems coordinator. She earned a B.S. degree from Radford University.
"Providing greater staff capacity in these strategic areas is an important step forward for us," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "One of our overarching goals is to build and sustain a workplace that offers opportunities for employee development, recognition and reward."
Harness is currently working with a consultant on a market analysis designed to determine whether staff salaries in the VMRCVM are consistent with those available in peer organizations.
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EMC's Brown on Front Lines of Gulf Coast Disaster

On the ground in New OrleansFor EMC faculty member Dr. Jennifer Brown, providing emergency relief on the nation's Gulf coast following hurricanes Katrina and Rita was a "seriously life-altering experience."
As a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association's VMAT-2 team, Brown was a first-responder; trained and certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to go in to an area following a natural or man-made disaster, assess its impact on the veterinary medical community, assess the animal needs arising from the disaster, and take remedial action.
Brown recounted the experiences she gained during a three-week deployment in Mississippi following Katrina and a two-week deployment in Louisiana following Rita during a recent public presentation one evening at the EMC.
Brown and her colleagues were well-trained, but nothing prepared them for what they encountered when they arrived: the complete obliteration of large portions of the Mississippi coastline that had been wrought by a 30-foot storm surge and pounding waves driven by 150 mile per hour winds.
"It was just more powerful than you can possibly imagine," she recalled. "We're talking mile after mile of just complete destruction."
One of their first tasks was to systematically begin checking veterinary practices and animal shelters for survivors. Those animals were extracted, evaluated, treated, and dispatched for relocation, reunification and adoption centers.
The VMAT teams set up "triage" areas and began providing emergency veterinary services for rescued animals.
Another important task was to provide veterinary care for the highly trained search and rescue and cadaver dogs that were deployed in the disaster area.
These dogs often suffer minor cuts, abrasions and pad lacerations as they make their way through wreckage searching out casualties and survivors, explained Brown, and keeping them healthy and functional is extremely important in these emergencies. "These are valuable assets," Brown said. "Nothing can replace these dogs, and it takes years and years to train them."
(Editor's note: Look for more detailed coverage of Dr. Brown's experiences as well as rescue efforts mounted by other friends of the college in an upcoming issue of the VMRCVM's new magazine"VM.")
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Bioterrorism Conference Scheduled for Hotel Roanoke

Faculty members from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will present a day-long continuing education course on "Animals and Human Diseases with Bioterrorism Potential" on Monday, December 12 at the Hotel Roanoke from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Designed for veterinarians and physicians who wish to learn more about the characteristics of infectious disease agents that might be used as agents of bioterrorism, the workshop will feature virologists, bacteriologists, epidemiologists and other scientists associated with the college's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CIMMID) and clinical departments.
Topics and disease agents slated for discussion include smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg, Ebola, plague, Brucella, Foot and Mouth Disease, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE's) , and other food and water-borne biothreat viruses.
Faculty members participating in the event include Dr. Thomas Toth, professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP); Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor, DBSP; Dr. Willard H. Eyestone, research associate professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS); Dr. X. J. Meng, associate professor, DBSP; and Dr. Francois Elvinger, associate professor, DLACS.
Sponsored by the VMRCVM and Virginia Tech's Office of Continuing and Professional Education, the conference will feature seven contact hours of continuing education (.7 continuing education units). The $165 registration fee includes lectures, refreshments, lunch, handouts and CE credits.
For more information, contact Anne Cinsavich in the college at 540-231-5261 or
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Maryland Presents Community Vet School Program

The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on the Maryland Campus presented a Community Veterinary College" on Friday, September 30 as part of a series of special events to celebrate the VMRCVM's 25th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the University of Maryland College Park.
The meeting was designed to focus on ways the VMRCVM is contributing to 21st century veterinary education and research, according to Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the CPCVM.
Featured guests included former VMRCVM Dean Peter Eyre, who discussed Breaking New Ground, a book that chronicles the history of the VMRCVM which he co-authored with Dr. Kent Roberts.
Dr. Jennifer Brown, Clinical Assistant Professor in Emergency Care and Equine Surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) in Leesburg presented an update on activities at the EMC and discussed her recent deployment on the Gulf coast as a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association's VMAT-2 (veterinary medical assistance team).
Dr. Michelle Colby, a VMRCVM graduate who is now working on homeland security and science and technology policy as a policy analyst in the White House's Office of Science and Technology, gave a presentation on how veterinarians impact public policy at the executive level of the federal government.
Dr. Suzan Murray, Head, Department of Animal Health at the National Zoological Park, discussed clinical practice at a major zoological park.
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2005-2006 Veterinary Memorial Fund Grants Awarded

Almost $100,000 in clinical research program funding has been awarded as part of the 2005-2006 series of Veterinary Memorial Fund awards.
Projects funded include: "The Effect of Pregnancy on Echocardiographic Variables in Healthy Bitches," principal investigator Dr. Jonathan Abbott, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS,) $7,280.
"The Effect of Hypothyroidism on Isoflurane Requirement in Dogs," Dr. Stephanie Berry, DSACS," $3,444.
"Migration, Survival, and Differentiation of Adipose-Derived Adult Stem Cells in Injured Equine Flexor Tendons," Dr. Linda Dahlgren, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences," $14,519.65.
"Immortalization and Characterization of Cultured Canine Corneal Epithelial Cells," Dr. Ian Herring, DSACS, $13,500
"Comparison of Ultrasound, Computed Tomography, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Detection of Acute Wooden Foreign Bodies in the Canine Manus," Dr. Jeryl Jones, DSACS, $13,478.
"The Effects of Anesthesia and Surgery on Thyroid Function in Dogs," Dr. David Panciera, DSACS, $15,000.
"Prevalence of Cardiomyopathy in Apparently Healthy Cats," Dr. R. Lee Pyle, DSACS, $12,223.29
"Early Post-operative Findings in Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Deficient Dogs Treated with Tibal Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) or Tibal Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Procedures," Dr. Peter Shires, DSACS, $14,834
Founded in 1984 by the college and the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the fund is one of the oldest such funds in the nation. Since it's inception, the fund has raised about $1 million and has been used to fund almost 110 individual clinical research programs that have explored areas deemed timely by a panel of statewide practitioners and college faculty members.
One of the greatest benefits of the Veterinary Memorial Fund program is the way it links community veterinarians around the state with college researchers in a way that directly serves animals and their owners.
When a companion animal passes away, the practitioner makes a financial donation to the fund. The dean of the VMRCVM then sends a letter of condolence announcing the memorial to the bereaved.
Then a team of private practitioners and college researchers work together to identify the kind of research that needs to be done to address urgent veterinary healthcare issues in the field, proposals are evaluated and funded, and the work is completed.
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Equine Medical Center Embracing Organizational Development Activities

Organizational development activities designed to improve communications, teamwork and operating efficiency at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center have been underway for the past two years and are making progress, according to Center Director Dr. Nathaniel White.
Under the guidance of the Equine Medical Center Council, EMC leaders began working two years ago with the Sonoma Institute, a strategic human resources consulting firm with offices in Washington D.C., Berkeley and Sonoma, California that works with corporations like IBM, Apple, and others.
Initially 15 people, including department heads, were involved with the process, White said, which involves periodic workshops, exercises and meetings designed to enhance organizational performance through improved communication and developing employee trust, cooperation, and commitment to organizational goals. Sixty employees are now involved with the process.
"It is working," notes White, who has also reorganized some processes associated with fiscal management and clinical services to improve operations as part of the program. He said the center's operating revenues are up and there are anecdotal signs of improved employee job satisfaction and performance.
As part of another process supported by the Equine Medical Center Council, a Louisville, Kentucky marketing firm entitled Stewart and Associates has been retained to develop strategies for developing the center's brand identity in the marketplace.
That process is being undertaken in consultation with Virginia Tech's Office of University Relations, which has been working for almost a year with the EMG group on a university-wide brand development and integrated marketing initiative.
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VMRCVM Alums, Friends Tailgate before Hokies/Terps Gridiron Clash

More than 100 friends and alumni turned out to attend an alumni event held in conjunction with the Virginia Tech/University of Maryland football game on October 18.
The event also included "Huddle with the Hokies and Terps," a joint athletic and academic program which featured a briefing by avian influenza expert Dr. Daniel Perez on AI H5N1 and the status of the global pandemic threat and three VMRCVM students who volunteered their support in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as part of a clerkship experience organized through the college's Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine.
The first VMRCVM alumni reunion ever held on the College Park campus also featured visits by University of Maryland Provost William Destler and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Cheng-I Wei.
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