March 2022
Honoring Women in Academic Veterinary Medicine for Women's History Month
AAVMC President Dr. Susan Tornquist: Paving the Way for Future Female Leaders in Academic Veterinary Medicine

As veterinary medicine and veterinary medical school have become increasingly female, even flipping gender dominance in the mid ‘80s (see this chart), the percentage of women in positions of leadership has lagged. Some women, however, have led the way, including women who have served as AAVMC presidents.

The AAVMC’s current president is Dr. Susan Tornquist, the Lois Bates Acheson Dean of the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, where she has served since 2013. Dr. Tornquist, who officially began her term as president in March 2022, is the fourth female president since the AAVMC’s founding in 1966.

When Dr. Tornquist attended veterinary medical school, women were still in the minority, so she’s seen the gender balance shift dramatically during her career. “There is a recognition that veterinary medicine is an excellent profession for women and that we have the interest and skills to continue to improve veterinary medicine in many ways,” she said.

Dr. Tornquist credits a strong support system, including assistance from other women, in helping her along the way. “This included support from other women deans, both in the veterinary profession and at my university when I was considering stepping into the dean role. It has made it a lot more fun and interesting to be able to share stories, problems and successes with other women deans.”

She acknowledged that she had the advantage of strong family help and good childcare options, which not every woman has.

“Our profession is working through issues like wellness and mental health, work-life balance, financial stresses, practice ownership, etc. that are very importantly viewed through a female lens (of course, along with the male point of view). We are making changes in veterinary medicine that will improve the lifestyle for those who choose this profession. In academic veterinary medicine, we need to recognize the concerns that are important for the new generation of veterinarians and think creatively and positively about how to address them.”

The AAVMC Board and staff congratulate Dr. Susan Tornquist on her presidency and look forward to partnering with her to lead and execute the mission and goals of the AAVMC.

Learn more about Dr. Tornquist.
A Strong and Seasoned Leader Understands the Power of Mentorship

As a woman of many firsts, Dr. Ruby L. Perry will achieve another first in 2023 as she takes the helm of presidency for the AAVMC as the first African American woman to do so. According to Dr. Perry, “It’s often lonely when you are the first.”

Being first at something can be a risk, uncomfortable, but also ultimately very rewarding. This is another reason why diversity in this field is even more critical to the preservation of the profession. Additionally, the veterinary medical profession has a need to grow its workforce in order to maintain a pipeline of professionals, ensure relevancy and support the vitality of animal health. The profession is known to be historically not diverse, but it maintains an increased stance on diversity.

Dr. Perry’s example and her representation on the AAVMC board is another reason why it is important to bring others along in the field. Being a mentor and having a trusted mentor is key to navigating one’s leadership journey.

Dr. Perry is the dean/professor of veterinary radiology at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. She served as past secretary and currently is president-elect of the AAVMC Board of Directors, and co-chair of the AVMA-AAVMC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission. She wears the hat of several firsts to include the first alumna to be named both interim dean and dean of a U. S. veterinary school; the first African American female board-certified veterinary radiologist in the American College of Veterinary Radiology; and most recently, the first veterinary alumna to serve as acting president for Tuskegee University during the president’s medical leave period.

“I am honored to be recognized during Women’s History Month 2022 by the AAVMC in celebrating women in leadership," said Dr. Perry. "My leadership journey started many years ago in my teen years with being selected to be one of five African American students to enter the 10th grade in an all-white high school to officially desegregate the high school in Jackson, Mississippi. This step involved risks, but my gratitude to my mother for her passion and unrelenting commitment to encourage me to take a leap of faith and use my gifts and abilities to make a difference toward the common good indirectly chartered my life to where I am today."

She adds that mentors were a principal factor in her leadership journey. "A circle of mentors is essential to an individual’s growth and development as many mentors have not only motivated me but provided guidance and afforded opportunities along my career journey," she said. "Therefore, it is very important to remember these concepts for life -- mentee and mentor, receiving and giving -- throughout your career. I am fortunate to continue to have a mentorship circle of those who believe in me and encourage me to be the agent of change and encourage other women in this area as well for which I have the capacity, desire and interest."

We salute Dean Perry as a woman willing to be the first and chart the path for others to follow. To learn more about Dean Perry, check out her bio here.
AAVMC Receives a $1.87M Grant from the Zoetis Foundation to Support Veterinary Students

The AAVMC is pleased to announce a $1.875 million grant awarded from the Zoetis Foundation. Dr. Christine Jenkins, U.S. Chief Medical Officer, and V.P. of Veterinary Medical Services & Outcomes Research for Zoetis Inc., made a special announcement of this award at the 2022 Catalyze AAVMC Conference in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.
The AAVMC is pleased to announce its new Board of Directors for 2022-2023. AAVMC is also proud to celebrate four of its female leaders who start their board terms during Women’s History Month. Learn more here.
The AAVMC welcomes new provisional member, the University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science in the United Kingdom.
During the AAVMC's recent conference, CEO Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe announced that the AAVMC had sent a letter of support to faculty at the Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University in the Ukraine affirming that the AAVMC stands in solidarity with the global veterinary medical community and our Ukrainian colleagues. Read the letter here.
The AAVMC’s recent Catalyze 2022 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium drew more than 350 attendees, both in person and virtual, for a dynamic event that featured three keynote speakers and numerous workshops and presentations focused on prominent issues in academic veterinary medicine. If you attended the conference, you can logon to access session and keynote recordings at this link. Learn more about what transpired, and view photos and videos, here.
DEI - Diversity and Inclusion on Air
Recent episodes of Diversity and Inclusion on Air featured “Access to Care During Covid” and “Transgender and Non-Binary BIPOC in Veterinary Medicine." Check out the episodes here.
In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, AAVMC's Diversity Matters will celebrate the diversity of women through film. Please watch or re-watch the films and join us on March 30 to discuss them! Register for the Zoom here.
Professional Development
The 2021-2022 AAVMC Leadership Academy, sponsored by Elanco Animal Health, completed its program and officially graduated at a ceremony immediately prior to the 2022 Catalyze Conference in Washington, D.C. at the Watergate Hotel. Congratulations to all of the graduates. Please stay tuned for information about the next class.
Applications are due March 30 for the 2022
AAVMC/FFAR Vet Fellows Program, which provides stipend support for DVM students to perform research on: agriculture, economics and sustainability; zoonotic diseases and pandemic prevention; antimicrobial stewardship and more.

The Primary Care Veterinary Educators (PCVE) is focused on helping improve instructional practices in veterinary medical clinical education. Every year, the group convenes an annual meeting that explores and shares best practices in an area of academic veterinary medicine that helps faculty members best prepare students for clinical veterinary practice. Register here.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) can help veterinarians repay educational loan debt, offer more competitive salaries, provide compensation for overhead costs, and/or purchase new equipment to expand practices. The application period for 2022 is open. Applications will be accepted through April 5, 2022, for the VSGP and through April 15 for the VMLRP. More information is available on the VMLRP and VSGP webpages.
AAVMC Staff Updates/News
Dr. Lisa M. Greenhill, Senior Director for Institutional Research and Diversity, receiving the AAVMC's Presidential Award for Meritorious Service at Catalyze 2022.
Members of AAVMC Staff engage at the 2022 Catalyze Conference at the historic Watergate Hotel, Washington, D.C.
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People in Motion
  • Dr. Britt Conklin has been named Associate Dean for Clinical Programs at Texas Tech University.
  • Dr. Laura Romero has been named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
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The AAVMC is working hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in every dimension of academic veterinary medicine. To foster this goal, the photographs and illustrations which are used in our communications programs are aspirational, and do not necessarily reflect the levels of diversity and inclusion that currently exist.

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