A Balanced College of Veterinary Medicine
Most of my discussions as dean seek to identify the appropriate balance between two apparent extremes. For example, we strive to maintain balance between revenue and expenditures, hospital caseload and clinical instruction, work responsibilities and life’s demands, “healthy” stress and distress, and so on. From the College of Veterinary Medicine’s perspective, we seek to achieve an ideal balance between teaching, research, and service. In other words, we want to monitor and adjust our activities to support Auburn University’s mission in enhancing student success, promoting discovery, and practicing the highest standards of veterinary medicine. These discussions determine which faculty are hired, how faculty time is spent, where funds are allocated, and which students are recruited.
I’m excited to share in this issue of the Auburn Veterinarian a bold plan that was established by Provost Timothy Boosinger, our college’s sixth dean, to advance the research mission of Auburn University in a strategic and impactful way. The Cluster Hire Initiative, established in 2014 and fully implemented this year, has recruited more than 40 internationally recognized scientists to the Auburn University campus, four of whom reside in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Most significantly, these new faculty will contribute to five major research initiatives that span most disciplines across our campus: from veterinary medicine to engineering to pharmacy to forestry & wildlife sciences and beyond.
As budgets in public higher education tighten, we actively seek ways to do more through collaboration and interdisciplinary work. We have found valuable synergism with our academic partners on Auburn’s campus, in industry, and in the federal sector. Even more exciting is our belief that when disciplines merge, the union creates fertile areas for creativity and innovation.
Auburn’s Scott-Ritchey Research Center is a companion animal research program supported through an endowment and substantial extramural funding from the federal government, corporations, and donors. Through extensive interdisciplinary collaboration spanning more than 50 years, the Center has transformed a veterinarian’s clinical curiosity over a single neurological kitten into a groundbreaking, multi-institutional program in gene therapy for inherited neurological disorders. Strategies for creating a cure for GM1 gangliosidosis in cats will soon enter human clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. From a One Health perspective, we are optimistic.
One Health, by its nature, is an interdisciplinary venture with high research value. A balanced One Health perspective enhances student learning, improves clinical services, and increases our profession’s relevance to society.
Calvin M. Johnson, DVM, PhD
AU CVM Class of 1986