Office of the Dean

Committed to our mission and poised to succeed.

Calvin M. Johnson, Dean


Recently, while delivering an Ethics and Law lecture to a full classroom of attentive freshman veterinary students in the Class of 2025, I discussed the AVMA’s 9 Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.  The eighth principle can be paraphrased as “Advocate for community health.”  Our conversation evolved into a discussion of the popular concept of “Herd Immunity” as it relates to COVID-19.  I pointed out that every time herd immunity is discussed by epidemiologists and physicians, it is an affirmation of veterinary medicine as a pillar of public health.  And, who is in a better position to practice the principles and adapt to the nuances of generating herd immunity—and more importantly achieving herd health– than a veterinarian?

Principles of herd protection are in full force on the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine campus as 510 veterinary students and nearly 100 graduate students returned to campus for fall semester.  Energy and enthusiasm are palpable in the Veterinary Education Center these days after nearly 18 months of partial separation and hybrid online delivery.  We have strongly encouraged students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and we have achieved vaccination of over 70% of the Auburn veterinary community, doubling the state’s overall vaccination rate.  When coupled with the estimated frequency of natural immunity due to infection, we are nearing herd immunity in the college.  We’ve invested in air quality improvements, facilitation of personal biosafety practices, and mandatory face coverings indoors.  With these protections, we returned to full classrooms and complete in-person delivery of courses.  After weeks of classes, it would be safe to say that we’re back and we’re learning to live with COVID-19 while we reassemble what makes Auburn veterinary medicine so unique—our people.

I’ve surveyed the academic literature to explore strategies for emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in a stronger position than when we entered it in March 2020.  Regardless of the source, the advice is remarkably similar and typically divides into three steps:  (1) look back—which strengths have allowed us to withstand the pandemic thus far?  (2) take stock—what tools and skills do we have now that will allow us to achieve our future goals? And (3) chart the course—focus on the college’s mission, vision, and goals for the next 5, 10, and even 20 years.  Using an Olympics track & field analogy—we will strive to be first off the blocks, set an ambitious pace, finish strong, and win.

Thank you for your interest in Auburn Veterinary Medicine, and for accompanying us on this journey.

War Eagle!

Calvin M. Johnson, DVM, PhD

Auburn Veterinarian magazine

The Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Calvin M. Johnson has served as Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University since 2013, where he advances the college’s academic mission in teaching, research, clinical veterinary practice, and public outreach.

He is a graduate of Auburn University (B.S. in Animal and Dairy Science, 1983; D.V.M., 1986) and North Carolina State University (Ph.D. in veterinary pathology, 1992).  He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) with a specialty in anatomic pathology.

Dr. Johnson served on the faculty at the University of Florida for 11 years before joining Auburn as professor of pathology (2003) and head of the Department of Pathobiology (2005).

Under Dr. Johnson’s leadership, the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine educates 480 veterinary students and 71 graduate students in biomedical sciences, and supports the professional activities of 107 faculty members and 250 staff.

Extramural funding of research in the college totals $7.3 million and focuses on veterinary biomedical sciences, cancer biology, diabetes, metabolic diseases, vaccine development, and infectious diseases.

He is Auburn’s seventh veterinary medicine dean since the college was established.