November 2008

A Time for Thanks (Especially Now!)

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks... for the family and the friends and the opportunities that so many of us enjoy. Amidst the cloud of economic challenge that is settling upon the world in general and higher education in particular, it is sometimes hard to see the good things that are happening around us.

But good things are happening and remembering to focus on them helps keep things in perspective and reminds us all that it is not what happens to us personally or institutionally; it is how we choose to deal with the challenges that come our way. And so it is in that spirit that I proffer up a few things for our college to be grateful for, both specifically and in general.

First, we should all take pride and be thankful for the recent news that our college has been awarded full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International. This is a substantial achievement for our college that bodes very well for our future development and success as a biomedical research institution.

We should be thankful that we are building such a wonderful relationship with the college’s 2100 plus alumni. Our recent "Homecoming" event was a great success. We were all reminded again that our alumni are dedicated professionals who are changing the world, making it a better place, and as they do so, they are serving as ambassadors for our college. More than ever before, they are engaging with their alma mater, and doing what they can to help create a better future for the college.

We should be thankful for our friendships, and by this I mean the long-standing partnerships we enjoy with so many organizations, from the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations to the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Virginia AgriBusiness Council. These organizations help the college make sure its programs are meeting the needs of the people and animals we serve, and they are powerful advocates for our college in Richmond and Annapolis.

And we should be thankful for our people, the decent, intelligent, caring individuals – faculty, staff and students - that make our college what it is today. Read through this edition of Vital Signs and other college communications, and you will see that the stories of our college are not about equipment or buildings and things, they are about people; people whose talent, drive, commitment to professional excellence, and desire to do the right thing make us what we are today – an outstanding college of veterinary medicine that is making an important difference in the lives of many.

Consider this recent letter from a client in our Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who wrote to commend the "world-class" veterinary facility we have at Virginia Tech. His dog had apparently been poisoned after eating something she found while walking on a golf course and became very sick, very quickly, one recent Friday night.

"I called the vet school around 2 a.m. and we were on the road shortly thereafter. I was met by Dr. Allison O’Kell and a fourth year student Beatrix Cziprusz at the vet school and they did a wonderful job in getting Daisy stabilized and hydrated. She was in ICU until Sunday, but is now going home and doing quite well. We will be sending your office a donation to support the fine work being done there."

We should always remember that there are people who are thankful for us as well. Happy Thanksgiving holiday to you all.


Gerhardt G. Schurig

VMRCVM Awarded Prestigious Biomedical Research Certification

Research at VMRCVM

The VMRCVM has been awarded full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International following an extensive program evaluation and site visit.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International following an extensive program evaluation and site visitation.

AAALAC accreditation is considered the international "gold standard" for certifying ethical and professional excellence in the use of laboratory animals in biomedical research and education, according to VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig.

"Achieving this designation is a major step forward for our college," said Schurig. "It's an institutional 'stamp of quality' that says our programs comply with the highest standards of performance for animal care in biomedical research, and it should enhance our ability to procure more research contracts and grants in the future."

More than 770 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 29 different countries have earned AAALAC accreditation.

Some of the institutions that have earned AAALAC accreditation include the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The American Red Cross, and the National Institutes of Health.

Along with meeting all applicable local and national regulations regarding the use of animals in science, AAALAC accredited institutions must also demonstrate that they are achieving standards outlined in the National Research Council's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Developed in 1996, those standards exceed those that are required by law.

Earning AAALAC accreditation is a rigorous process that involves a detailed examination of an organization's institutional policies, procedures and performance regarding animal care and use in the areas of research, education, testing and breeding. Teams of professionals evaluate a comprehensive written document and conduct a site visitation that analyzes institutional performance in animal husbandry, veterinary care, physical plant and other areas.

In addition to certifying that an organization complies with the highest standards for animal research programs, AAALAC certification also promotes scientific validity and increased credibility with research, according to Schurig.

"This achievement is the result of a major process that has involved the efforts of professionals from many different offices around the college and the university," Schurig noted. "But I would especially like to recognize Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, our associate dean for professional programs, for her overall leadership in the later stages of the program, and also the highly dedicated staff within the Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Services."

Veterinarians and researchers who recognized the need to foster the highest standards of care for the use of laboratory animals in biomedical research founded AAALAC in 1965.

Scientific, educational and professional organizations like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and others help provide administrative direction and guidance for AAALAC International as members of their international Board of Trustees.

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Boyle Named Director of Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Stephen Boyle

Dr. Stephen M. Boyle, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, has been named the new director of the college’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Stephen M. Boyle, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), has been named the new director of the VMRCVM’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID). He succeeds Dr. Ansar Ahmed who recently was named head of the DBSP.

In this position, Boyle will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of CMMID, an advanced research and development center focused on the development of genetically altered vaccines and immunomodulators to fight infectious diseases in people and animals.

"Dr. Boyle's accomplishments and experience as a researcher, especially in vaccine development, will be of great benefit as he helps to guide CMMID's mission to uncover new ways to fight disease," said Dr. Roger Avery, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies. "I look forward to working with him in this new capacity."

Boyle received his undergraduate education from Rutgers the State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island. Before coming to the college in 1984 as an associate professor, Boyle was an assistant and an associate professor at Memorial University, Newfoundland. Boyle's principal research interests are microbial virulence mechanisms and the application of recombinant DNA technology to vaccine development. He is currently focusing on the improvement of the Brucella abortus vaccine strain RB51TM to prevent brucellosis as well as other diseases, the construction of a microarray encompassing the genomes of 3 Brucella spp., and the development and testing of a contraceptive vaccine for the control of feral cats. Boyle is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases and the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs.

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Scarratt Named Director of Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Services

Dr. Kent Scarratt

Dr. Kent Scarratt, an associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, has been named the director of the college’s Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Services.

Dr. Kent Scarratt, an associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS) has been named the director of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Services (TRACSS). TRACSS is responsible for the day-to-day care and housing of all college-owned animals involved in teaching and research projects.

Scarratt will oversee the team of trained professionals dedicated to the humane treatment and use of these animals and will assure the college is in compliance with all necessary guidelines and conditions set forth by Virginia Tech's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and other supervising agencies. He fills the vacancy left by Dr. Jennifer Hodgson who was recently named the college's associate dean for professional programs.

"The VMRCVM has always been committed to providing exceptional care to all college-owned animals," said Dr. Roger Avery, the veterinary college's senior associate dean for research and graduate studies. "Our recent accreditation by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care further bolsters that commitment. I have great confidence in Dr. Scarratt's ability to lead this important college program and to maintain the hallmark of excellence for which it is known."

Scarratt received his DVM in 1975 from the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to joining the college in 1982, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine. His research interests are in disorders of the central nervous system, infectious disease and the evaluation of failure of passive transfer of immunity in large animals. He is board certified as a diplomate by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal). Scarratt is also a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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"Sugar" Gets New Home in Time for the Holidays

Sugar the Horse

Dr. Marlice Vonck (left), the college’s clinical veterinarian in the TRACSS program, turns over the reins of “Sugar” to Shalyn Crawford (’10) and her family. After over two decades of helping to teach nearly all of the college’s over 2,000 DVM graduates, Sugar, a 27-year old Spanish Barb horse, has found retirement and a new home with the Crawford family on their 10-acre farm in New Market, Va.

Twenty-four years on the job is quite an accomplishment for anyone. No one knows that better than "Sugar," a 27-year old Spanish Barb horse that played a role in the education of almost every one of the VMRCVM's 2109 DVM graduates.

Now, after a job well done and just in time for the holiday season, Sugar has retired and found a new home.

Linda Correll, a former employee of the college, and her husband Gary, donated Sugar to the college in 1984. They had originally purchased Sugar to be a riding horse; however, as a result of her "petite" stature, they decided she might be better suited for helping veterinary students learn about equine anatomy and care.

Since then, she has been used in first-year musculoskeletal palpation labs and in second-year clinical technique labs where students learn proper methods for things like haltering and picking up the feet of a horse. She also made several public appearances during the college's annual Open House.

"Sugar was always the first picked for labs and events since she has such a sweet and gentle spirit," said Marlice Vonck, the college's clinical veterinarian for the Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Service (TRACCS). Vonck helped to arrange Sugar's adoption.

Sugar remained in good health during her entire career with the college and was well monitored and cared for by Vonck and the animal care technicians of TRACSS. When it came time for her to enter retirement, they knew they had to find a good home for her as a way of saying "thank you" for all the hard work she had put in over the years.

That is where Shalyn Crawford, a member of the Class of 2010, and her family stepped in. The Crawfords adopted Sugar and took her home to their 10-acre farm in New Market, Va. This holiday season, with her working days behind her, Sugar will be enjoying "greener" pastures, loving care, and the company of two other "retirees," "Medicine Hat" and "Oliver."

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Clinical Laboratory Services Vital to Hospital

Rose Mary Cornett

Rose Mary Cornett, ASCPCM, a medical technologist in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, shows off one of the many instruments housed in the hospital’s Clinical Laboratory Services. Cornett and her colleagues provide important laboratory testing for the hospital’s in-house patients and for other clinicians and agencies around the commonwealth.

One clinician needs to know if his patient has an intestinal parasite. Another one needs a urinalysis run on a feline. A third needs two units of blood for an injured dog. Still another needs a tissue sample processed and evaluated. In the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the Clinical Laboratory Services unit can and does successfully fill all of those needs and more.

When a clinician, resident, intern or a fourth-year veterinary student needs a specimen analyzed, he or she takes it to Laboratory Central Receiving (LCR) where it is distributed to the appropriate laboratory for testing.

LCR, anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, immunology, microbiology, parasitology, and the hospital's blood bank are the seven areas that comprise Clinical Laboratory Services. Each section is overseen by a chief of service and staffed by technologists. These areas are supervised by Carolyn Sink.

"The laboratory is a dynamic environment" said Sink, who has been with the college over 18 years. "Our team works together to produce reliable results for quality patient care. Our attention to detail begins at the point of accession and continues until the final result is issued."

The highly trained staff of 12 individuals includes six medical technologists. Becoming a medical technologist requires a four year science-based degree including a 12-month internship in a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited program. Individuals working in veterinary diagnostic laboratories receive further specialized training to develop competencies in species other than humans. This level of education and training is necessary because the work these individuals do is often critical to a patient's diagnosis. The veterinary college's laboratories operate at the same high standards as human medicine.

"The work of our Clinical Laboratory Services unit is such an essential part of what our hospital does," said Dr. Bill Pierson, director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "The quality of care we provide our patients is directly correlated to the timeliness and accuracy of the testing performed by these valued staff members."

However, the service provided by these individuals is not limited to running diagnostic testing for the hospital's in-house patients.

The Clinical Laboratory Services unit also provides testing for veterinarians within the commonwealth of Virginia, practitioners in surrounding states, researchers from the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID), and other colleges on the Virginia Tech campus.

In addition, they help prepare instructional labs for DVM students in their pre-clinical training and they assist with the instruction of fourth-year students during their clinical rotations in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

"It's very simple," explains Pierson. "We couldn't do what we do without them."

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VMRCVM Hosts 2008 Homecoming


Over 220 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and guests attended a tailgate barbeque, sponsored by Merial, as a kick-off to the VMRCVM’s recent homecoming weekend. After dinner, many of the guests watched Virginia Tech take on the University of Maryland in an ACC football game.

Food, fun, and fellowship abounded during the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's recent homecoming weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday evening with over 220 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and guests attending a tailgate barbeque, sponsored by Merial, before watching Virginia Tech take on the University of Maryland.

Noted attendees included Dr. Steve Karras, president of the VVMA; Dr. John Brooks, District II representative to the AVMA and deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture; Robert Vaughn, director of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee staff; and Tony Maggio, Virginia House Appropriations legislative fiscal analyst.

Friday morning, following a welcome from Dean Gerhardt Schurig, alumni engaged in discussion with representatives from the college on the future of the VMRCVM. Those participating from the college included Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, associate dean for professional programs; Dr. David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS); Dr. Greg Daniel, head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS); Dr. Lud Eng, assistant dean for strategic innovations; and Dr. Frank Pearsall, director of development for the college.

Alumni then joined students in the Grove for a lunch sponsored by Fort Dodge.

The afternoon began with presentations from alumni in various areas of the veterinary profession.

Dr. Ray Kaplan ('88), an associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, presented "It ain't the 80's anymore: Toward an Evidence-Based Medical Approach to Parasite Control." He suggested veterinarian and farm owners need to adopt a more individualized approach for parasite treatment as many parasites are becoming drug-resistant as a result of over-exposure to treatments.

Alumni Slideshow

View an audio slideshow of this year's festivities.

Dr. Nancy Figler ('98), the director of veterinary science and technology for Pfizer Global Research and Development, followed with a presentation on the many opportunities available in the field of laboratory animal medicine and the rewards and challenges the career brings.

Dr. Lisa Done ('88), from the Baltimore Zoo, concluded with "Big Cat, Big Diseases" in which she explained the changing health care needs of felids in captivity and the various illnesses that can affect them.

The group was then led on a tour of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital by Amanda Dymacek, assistant director of development and Christy Jackson, public relations coordinator, to see the additions and changes that had taken place since their time as students.

The classes of 1988 and 1998 then met at Bogen's Steakhouse in Blacksburg to mark their special reunion milestones.

The weekend concluded with a gathering at Continental Divide at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

View the homecoming audio slideshow and photo gallery to enjoy alumni interviews and photos from the tailgate event.

For more information on future alumni events, please visit

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EMC Introduces New Complex Fracture Fixation System

Locking Compression Plating System

The innovative Locking Compression Plating system was used to repair a fracture in the elbow of a pregnant thoroughbred broodmare at Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.

When a human fractures an arm or leg, the results are pain, discomfort, and inconvenience. When a horse fractures a limb, however, the consequences are more serious—possibly even life-threatening.

While the surgical specialists at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center have always had the skill and experience to repair many types of equine fractures, they now have an innovative new fixation system-the Locking Compression Plating (LCP) system—available for those cases where this advanced bone plating system will provide the best treatment option.

The state-of-the-art LCP system is comprised of stainless steel and titanium plates and screws, along with instruments unique to the locking plate technique. It offers advantages over traditional fracture fixation systems, which are also in use at the EMC.

Bone plates, which were developed to fix human fractures, have been used for equine fracture repair for nearly 40 years. Over this period of time, bone plates have been improved to provide better compression across the fracture line and better stabilization, which helps speed the healing process. This same technology has helped improve the chances for repair of equine limb fractures.

In order to repair a horse's broken or weakened bone with the LCP system, a horse undergoes a surgical procedure which involves implanting extremely strong plates that accept two different types of threaded screws. One type of screw, the cortical bone screw, helps compress the fracture line and can be angled relative to the plate. The other type of screw, the locking screw, has special threads in the head that lock right into the plate, unifying the plate/screw unit, which provides a greater level of stability.

Because the LCP system also includes a tool that can contour a plate so that it exactly matches the shape of the bone being repaired, the system provides a support structure that is tailored to the individual horse's anatomy and needs. After the plate is contoured to the bone, holes are drilled in the bone and the appropriate screws are embedded to attach the plate to the bone.

"The main advantage of the LCP system is that it provides a greater degree of stability in the horse's limb both during and after recovery," explained Jennifer Barrett, DVM, Ph.D., and an assistant professor of surgery at the EMC. "With greater stability, there is less likelihood of failure, which might lead to a new fracture." The system also allows for better blood circulation, which helps facilitate healing.

"And, during the healing process, if the fracture repair is more stable, the horse is more comfortable, which can help prevent problems like laminitis in the opposite foot," Barrett added.

In putting this innovative system to use, surgeons at the EMC have been able to give every advantage to an injured horse. Should a horse suffer a broken leg-depending on the severity of the fracture-he might have to be euthanized. The unique LCP system offers a much greater chance of bringing the horse back to full health and avoiding the loss of the animal.

Recently, Barrett utilized the LCP system on a pregnant thoroughbred broodmare that was brought to the EMC with a broken elbow. "Fortunately, we had this state-of-the-art system at our fingertips," Barrett noted, "and the outcome was very rewarding: She recovered completely and had a beautiful foal."

The Equine Medical Center was able to purchase the fracture fixation system as a result of annual donations. "Donations to the center allow us to continue to invest in state-of-the-art equipment so that we can maintain our high standard of delivering excellent care to our patients," said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor, and director of the center. "Each and every year, thousands of our patients benefit from the generosity of our donors."

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Hancock and Lowe Honored for Outstanding Performance

2008 Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award Winners

Kathy Lowe and Sandy Hancock, laboratory specialists in the veterinary college, were recently two of four individuals presented with Virginia Tech's 2008 Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award during the Sixth Annual New Developments in Laboratory Technology Exhibits and Workshops. The awards were presented by Dr. Robert Walters, Virginia Tech’s vice president for research. Above are (left to right): Lowe, Hancock, Walters, Renee Irvin, and Julie Petruska. Irvin and Petruska were also honored.

Two laboratory specialists from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine were recently honored with Virginia Tech's 2008 Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award at the Sixth Annual New Developments in Laboratory Technology Exhibits and Workshops.

Sandy Hancock and Kathy Lowe were among four individuals from across the university recognized with this award.

The Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award program aims to recognize an individual or team for performance supporting research in a non-administrative position. The award honors recipients for exemplary accomplishments, professional development, and any relevant background and experience demonstrating how the individual or team interacts with colleagues and students.

Hancock, who has been with the veterinary college for 19 years, was recognized for her expertise and tireless commitment to the Laboratory for Neurotoxicity Studies' Good Laboratory Practices.

Lowe, who has 21 years of service to the college, was selected for outstanding contributions to the department not only through her own research and daily work but through her assistance and guidance of students using Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopy.

Robert Walters, vice president for research, presented each winner with a certificate in recognition of their accomplishment, and each award recipient received a $500 monetary award.

Renee Irvin from the College of Science and Julie Petruska from the College of Engineering were also honored.

The Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award program is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and University Professional Development's Laboratory Employee Professional Development Network (LEPDN).

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Erskine ('88) Finds His Stride in Equine Practice

Kathleen and Dr. Mike Erskine

Dr. Mike Erskine (’88) is a partner with Damascus Equine Associates, the veterinary practice his family used during his youth. It was riding and competing as a boy that inspired his interest in pursuing veterinary medicine as a career. He is pictured above with his wife Kathleen during the VMRCVM’s recent Homecoming weekend.

Some say life goes full circle, and Dr. Mike Erskine ('88) might agree. Erskine is today a partner with Damascus Equine Associates, the veterinary practice his family used during his youth. It was riding and competing as a boy that inspired his interest in pursuing veterinary medicine as a career.

Though they live and work in Maryland, Mike Erskine, his wife Kathleen, and daughter Olivia can often be found at Virginia Tech alumni events in Blacksburg and at national veterinary continuing education events held in cities around the country.

That's because Mike is a great believer in organized veterinary medicine, and a great supporter of the role veterinary colleges play in the profession.

In fact, Mike enjoys the distinction of being the first VMRCVM alumnus to ever serve as president of either the Virginia or Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations. After several years of volunteer activity and engagement, Mike was elected to serve the association as president during the 2000-2001 year.

"That was a great experience," recalls Mike, whose steady, precise bearing is as effective in meetings as it is in dealing with an urgent medical crisis.

Being involved with organized veterinary medicine "does have an impact on how you practice and the way in which your clients and your patients receive veterinary care," he said, adding that he's had an opportunity to meet and work with many excellent people to advance the veterinary profession.

Following his undergraduate work at Virginia Tech and his professional training in the VMRCVM, Mike worked briefly in private practice in Maryland and then went to Pennsylvania to work with Dr. Mike Stuber, whose busy equine practice was focused on both thoroughbred racers and farm horses alike.

"He was a great mentor and a great friend and I still look to him for guidance and reassurance at times, so he was a super influence on my early career," said Erskine, who values the extensive experience he gained.

In 1990, Erskine joined Damascus Equine Associates, a group of seven independent veterinarians who see mostly sporting horses, share common elements of business operations and collaborate frequently as they provide regional service out of a headquarters located about 30 miles west of Baltimore.

Erskine says he's seen a lot of things change over the past 20 years of practice.

"The most exciting part of equine practice, and certainly veterinary medicine generally is the expansion of technology, of our understanding of disease and disease management, and what we're able to deliver to our patients and our clients," he said.

"We're able to deliver an increasingly sophisticated and worthwhile veterinary product to our customers on behalf of our patients," he said, adding that Damascus equine practitioners routinely use digital radiology, digital ultrasound and gastroscopy in the field.

He also values the capacity to refer cases to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va. "I've viewed referral as an extension of my services to my clients, so the care that my clients receive there is important to me," he said. "It's a reflection on me."

Erskine has come to know the EMC well. He presently serves on the EMC Advisory Council, a distinguished group of citizens that provide advice and counsel to the center's director and staff and assist in generating private support for the center. He has also served on the center's veterinary advisory board.

Erskine remembers his years as a veterinary student as demanding. My memories of vet school center on the volume of information and the intensity of the study," he recalls. He can still remember how exciting and gratifying it was to apply what he had learned during his early years of study during the more clinical aspects of the final year.

Erskine is pleased to see the college's Alumni Society gathering the momentum that it has, and he is a former member of the society's board of directors.

"There is a building enthusiasm and awareness of the alumni society," he said, adding that organized alumni events at state, regional and national meetings has helped it gain a sense of identity.

"Like any other organization, it does forge relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling for those that participate," he said. "For every bit of effort you put in, you receive 10 times the benefit from these volunteer organizations and professional associations."

As a leader, he's concerned about the economic challenges facing veterinary medicine, from student debt to salary issues and the need to expand the capacity of academic veterinary medicine.

But he remains positive and optimistic about the future for veterinary medicine.

"It's an awesome and wonderful profession," he said. People can be very successful, fulfilled, make a good living and be very comfortable.

"It's a proud profession and I don't discourage anyone from pursuing it."

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Two New Members Named to Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Council

David Hayden (left) and Michael Hillman (right)

David Hayden (left) and Michael Hillman (right) were recently named to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's Council.

By unanimous approval, two prominent leaders in the equine industry were recently named to Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's council.

The council provides advice and counsel to the center's director and staff to help the EMC meet the needs of the equine industry and the constituencies it serves. In addition, the council provides assistance in generating private support for the center to enhance and expand its programs.

Named to the council were David Hayden and Michael Hillman, both Maryland residents.

Hayden owns and manages Dark Hollow Farm, a thoroughbred breeding farm near Baltimore. He has been involved with horses for 40 years and has been breeding racehorses since the mid-1970s, when he was inspired to get into the thoroughbred business after watching Secretariat win the Belmont Stakes. He runs the farm with his wife, JoAnn, a retired Baltimore County schoolteacher. He is also the founder and sole proprietor of David Hayden Advertising, an advertising and marketing firm whose clients include prominent farms in Maryland and Kentucky.

Hillman is an avid amateur three-day event rider and has a group of successful event horses on his farm in Emmitsburg, which he manages with his wife, Audrey. Hillman, an engineer by training, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School and served as an officer aboard U.S. nuclear submarines. He has worked at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.

He enjoys writing about his experiences with horses and for 10 years authored a column on Eventing for The Equiery. In addition to his professional and equestrian activities, Hillman serves as the president of the Greater Emmitsburg Historical Society, is on the marketing committee for the Frederick County Community Foundation, and is the founder of, one of the largest non-profit integrated community Web sites in the United States.

"The leadership at the EMC was very pleased when Mr. Hayden and Mr. Hillman were nominated as prospective members of the Equine Medical Center's Council," said Nathaniel A. White II, DVM, M.S., Diplomate ACVS, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor, and Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center director.

"Both of these gentlemen are very highly regarded within the equine community and we are certain to benefit from their knowledge and experience. We look forward to working with them; their contributions will surely make an enormous difference to the center," White added.

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Pelzer Named Director of Admissions and Student Services

Dr. Jacquelyn Pelzer

Dr. Jacquelyn Pelzer has joined the college as the director of admissions and student services. In this position, Pelzer will serve as the primary contact and resource for student advising and counseling and will oversee admission into the college's DVM program.

Dr. Jacquelyn Pelzer has joined the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine as the director of admissions and student services. In this position, Pelzer will serve as the primary contact and resource for student advising and counseling and she will oversee admission into the college's DVM program. She replaces Dr. Mike Reardon who is retiring.

"We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Pelzer to our office," said Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, associate dean for professional programs. "Her proven ability to build positive and productive relationships with both potential and current students as well as those in the university community will greatly benefit our college. In addition, as an alumna of the VMRCVM, she brings a great and unique perspective to this position."

Prior to joining the veterinary college, Pelzer was the career services coordinator for Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) where she was responsible for career development and advising for all students within the college. She also served as executive director of the Bernard Harris ExxonMobil Science Camp, a two-week residential science and math summer camp.

"I really enjoy working with students and that's a big part of this position," said Pelzer. "I am also very passionate about the veterinary profession's diverse career opportunities."

Pelzer earned her B.S. in 1992 from Virginia Commonwealth University and her DVM in 1997 from the VMRCVM. She is the owner of Creatures Comforts, a Blacksburg-based veterinary house call practice.

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