Tuskegee, Auburn collaborate to further veterinary medicine training, increase diversity

Increasing diversity in the veterinary profession is one of the major priorities of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and one of the driving forces behind another historic initiative in veterinary medicine between Tuskegee and Auburn universities.

Dean Ruby Perry and Dean Calvin Johnson shake hands after signing the MOU.
Dean Ruby Perry and Dean Calvin Johnson shake hands after signing the MOU.

The longstanding relationship between both veterinary colleges has resulted in the development of an initiative to increase under-represented board certified specialists and diversity in the veterinary profession. Tuskegee will fund a Tuskegee veterinary medical graduate to train as a resident in a clinical area of need at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and return to Tuskegee as a board-certified specialist and a faculty member.

The agreement was signed June 27 at Tuskegee University by Dr. Ruby L. Perry, Tuskegee veterinary dean, and Dr. Calvin M. Johnson, Auburn veterinary dean.

The initiative is beneficial to both veterinary colleges by strengthening their diversity programs and a model for other collaborative efforts.

“Although veterinary medicine is still one of the most ethnically, racially and culturally homogenous professions in the country, this initiative is another way to make a difference and help achieve the goal of addressing diversity and emphasize that diversity matters in the veterinary profession. The signing of the MOU [memorandum of understanding] between the two colleges underscores how we can combine efforts and resources for a common good by responding to the call to improve diversity in the veterinary profession,” Dean Perry said.

“Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine enjoys a strong collaborative relationship with the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in many areas, including joint engagement in student activities, sharing of faculty expertise, and collegial interactions between our teaching hospitals. By signing this MOU, Dean Perry and I have extended that collaboration to the training of an outstanding Tuskegee veterinarian as a resident in radiology at Auburn’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital under the direction of Dr. John Hathcock,” Dean Johnson said.

The AVMA Council on Education, the accrediting body for the veterinary profession, has emphasized that every veterinary college/school demonstrate efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the profession and has also integrated it into the accreditation standards. This action validates the importance of ensuring that changes continue to address the increasingly diverse veterinary workforce, which currently does not reflect the population of this diverse nation.

Tuskegee veterinary Dean Ruby Perry, and Auburn veterinary Dean Calvin Johnson sign the agreement.
Tuskegee veterinary Dean Ruby Perry, and Auburn veterinary Dean Calvin Johnson sign the agreement.

“Dean Johnson and I are excited about this collaboration and share a strong commitment to identify ways to promote awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion within veterinary medical education for our students and faculty. There are valuable learning opportunities for our administrative and student leaders that we continue to have conversations on those issues that impact the future of the veterinary profession,” Dean Perry said.

“East Alabama has many unique strengths, and one of its greatest is the concentrated focus on veterinary education at two major universities. Tuskegee University is renowned for its ongoing commitment and compelling vision for excellence in the veterinary profession through diversity and inclusion. Auburn’s partnership with Tuskegee in veterinary specialty training is one example of a synergistic relationship that will lead to real progress in preparing veterinarians to better serve the public,” Dean Johnson said.

Diversity and inclusion should be celebrated and embraced by every veterinary medical school/college across the country as emphasized by the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, or AAVMC  “As other veterinary schools and colleges are engaged in various efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, Purdue University where our alumnus, Dr. Willie Reed, serves as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, houses the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine. The initiative between Tuskegee and Auburn is another way to help change the face of veterinary medicine around diversity and inclusion,” Dean Perry concluded.

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 About Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
Over the course of its 126-year history, the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has produced more than 6,650 veterinarians and more than 500 specialists and researchers. Auburn is the seventh oldest college of veterinary medicine in North America and was the first in the southeastern United States. Alumni live throughout all 50 states and many nations. The mission of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is to prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine, including private and public practice, industrial medicine, academics, and research. The College provides programs of instruction, research, outreach, and service that are in the best interests of the citizens of the state of Alabama, the region, the nation, and the world.

About Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine
The Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM) is the only veterinary medical professional program located on the campus of a historically black college or university in the United States. The TUCVM has educated more than 70 percent of the nation’s African-American veterinarians and received recognition as the most diverse of all 30 schools/colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. The primary mission of the TUCVM is to provide an environment that fosters a spirit of active, independent and self-directed learning, intellectual curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, ethics, and leadership; and promotes teaching, research and service in veterinary medicine and related disciplines.