March 30, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

College Updates

I'd like to thank the staff members who participated in our first staff forum. This event is part of an effort to improve overall communications in the college. I appreciated everyone's time, and hope that I was able to express my appreciation for the work that you all do every day to make this college great. I want to thank Renne Komula, our chief administrative officer, for addressing questions about the new on-line system that includes e-leave, e-requests, and e-time. (I understand that there will not be anything else named "e"!) Mary Jo Burkhard sent out a link to the full presentation, open through April 30: Many thanks to Ken Matthias for providing this video link.

I hope everyone knows that we now have a Staff Advisory Council. Members of the council include: Gale Azcarraga-Carter (VCS); Julie Becker (Marysville); Katie Canter, (VMC – Labs), Chris Frasure (VBS); Stacey Gallant (VMC – Techs); Fred Marker (Information Systems); Tracy Marsh (VMC – Techs); Jacqueline Nolting (VPM – Research Tech); April Pugh (Administration - Student Affairs); Melissa Savage (VMC – Client Services); and Jen Simmons (Biomedical Media). You can contact your council members to express your ideas and concerns. We included staff from all sections of the college and I will meet regularly with this group as another part of the effort to improve communications. Council members already have suggested more "town hall" meetings, as well as an effort to recognize more staff accomplishments in these bi-weekly updates.

Several staff members at the forum had questions, and I want to thank Sue Chmura, VMC Assistant Director – Client Services, for asking about expanded payment options for our VMC clients. I know that Renne Komula and Ken Luke, VMC Assistant Director – Finance, are working to determine a legal way for this to become a reality. State regulations make some options difficult to manage – and they are continuing to search for a solution. Stacey Gallant asked about the status of the long-awaited new VMC cafeteria. That is also still in process, and we look forward to making an official announcement in the near future. We are getting much closer!

Finally, I want to mention the recent efforts of all of us to articulate our "Vision and Values." The College of Veterinary Medicine is a large organization. Sometimes it may seem that we are all engaged in seemingly disconnected activities. The environment is fast-moving; we are busy. We must care about each other, as well as the good of the organization. We must continue to focus on improving our culture; and the ability to articulate a future vision, and embrace shared values will move us all forward in the same direction. As we went through this process, we realized that the list of "university values" was similar to the values we developed. Our Visioning Design committee is putting the finishing touches on the definitions of these values as they relate specifically to the work we do in veterinary medicine. I look forward to their final recommendations.

I want to thank Dr. John Hubbell and Dr. Steve DiBartola for their leadership with a newly formed committee examining "A New Model for Veterinary Education." This group will be conducting some frank discussions about student debt, tuition increases, student requirements for admission, the veterinary curriculum, the length of time in school, sustainability of the current program, and competencies required for graduation. This is a critical discussion, and Ohio State is uniquely positioned to lead a national discussion on the topic.

Staff members Fred Marker, senior associate director of Veterinary Information Systems, (and a vast knowledge of VetStar), and Brian Kildow, college webmaster, deserve recognition for their efforts in assisting with converting our curriculum from quarters to semesters. Fred has been working with Drs. Steve DiBartola and Lynne Olson to manage data about the core professional courses for almost two years, preparing for semester conversion. Most recently Brian has been developing the "Curriculum Management Tool (CMT)." The first phase enables faculty to submit syllabus information for all semester courses via a web interface. The next step will be to design a web-based system to manage requests for all new courses (professional and graduate), which will enable distribution of course syllabi to students, display course schedules, and assist with reports. I know their efforts are greatly appreciated by everyone as we make this transition!

Campus Updates and Partnerships

We recently had a tour of the fantastic Biodynamics Laboratories in the College of Engineering. Director Bill Marras, professor in the department of Integrated Systems Engineering, met with our faculty members Drs. Alicia Bertone and Matthew Allen to discuss collaborations. The lab currently works with the Wexner Medical Center, modeling spinal injuries and diseases, and working with surgeons. They also work with Honda on ergonomics, and many other projects with numerous organizations. They are interested in our comparative medicine work, as well as using animal models. The partnership may lead to great research opportunities for faculty and students, as well as new discoveries to help animals and people.

On Thursday morning, Dr. Jeff Lakritz offered a tour of our VMC to a group of Chinese dairy farm managers, hosted in part by Dr. Don Sanders from our Marysville Large Animal Service and Yuguang Chi, national sales manager for the Zoetis (Formally Pfizer Animal Health), Dairy Team, in China. I enjoyed speaking with the group through their translators. They seemed suitably impressed with our people and facility. Thanks goes to Dr. Sanders for arranging this event.

State and National Issues

Last week was a meeting of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, with representatives from the Ohio Farm Bureau, as well as the pork, beef, and poultry industries. We had a good discussion on forming better partnerships with these influential groups. There are many common critical issues and they will be including more of our faculty in their programs and animal meetings to help us understand the changes in animal agriculture, food processing, and production systems. The most critical areas for further discussion include: 1) Animal Welfare; 2) Anti-microbial Resistance; 3) Food Safety; 4) Food Security (supply and costs); 5) Environmental and Production Sustainability (land and water); 6) Global Food System opportunities; 7) Emerging Infectious Diseases (zoonoses, influenza); 8) Rural Veterinary Practice Shortage; 9) Global Health/Poverty (improvement by animal agriculture); 10) Developing and creating special markets for animal agricultural products, (i.e. organic, locally grown, high-value products); 11) food and health/wellness (functional foods); 12) leveraging remarkable scientific breakthroughs (genomics); 13) Livestock 2020 (50 percent increase in animal protein demand by 2020); 14) recruitment, education, and training of the next generation of producers and veterinarians; 15) increased risk of foreign animal diseases (identify, respond and recover – improved infrastructure and surveillance). We look forward to our future sessions to focus on some of these issues.

Alumni and Fundraising

On Thursday, we welcomed members of the Class of 1970 to the college for a demonstration of the new Communications Lab on the second floor of VMAB. This group has donated more than $200,000 in support of this important addition to our core curriculum, which supports the increased instruction of communications skills for our DVM students. This is the largest class gift ever donated to the college. (It does happen to be my Ohio State class!)

Upcoming Events

I mentioned in my last memo that the next Focus-Forward Weekend will be held July 19-21. The dates remain the same; based on recent interactions we will be changing the theme to Ohio Agriculture and the College of Veterinary Medicine: Strengthening Our Critical Partnership.


Dean Lonnie King