“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.” —Greg Anderson

Dean Lairmore with his second granddaughter, Juliette, during the winter holidays.

The new year brings a sense of renewal, a chance to begin again, perhaps in a direction that sets our life toward a new course. Holiday breaks, often spent with family and friends, help refresh our bonds with those we love and remind us of who we are in spirit or how we started our life’s journey. As we focus on the future, it is also a time to reflect on the present and to consider what is important in our lives.

Our school has two major strategic planning efforts underway to help us plot our future course. We will soon launch a new strategic plan for our veterinary hospital to gain insight into how we lead the world in veterinary medicine, transforming the lives of animals and humans through compassionate, innovative care. We are also refreshing our current strategic plan to reflect and build on our accomplishments and lessons learned over the past five years.

Dr. Sue Stover (far right) finds quality downtime in snowshoeing with friends.

A common component of both plans will be a focus on the human element. What all effective complex organizations must depend upon to accomplish their objectives are talented people who form caring communities with a common sense of purpose. It is no surprise that our current planning efforts have at their core a need to develop the most valuable resource we have, our people. Integrating goals and tactics designed to promote a sense of community will distinguish our plans and help us maintain our global leadership position in veterinary education and scientific discoveries. The well-being of our faculty, staff, and students will be the foundation of any success we may have in our future.

Dr. Rebecca Bellone spends time bonding with her horse.

We have succeeded in attracting world class faculty, talented and loyal staff, and extremely qualified students. Over the past five years we have designed new programs and obtained resources to support the health and wellness of our employees and students. We promoted healthy activities from athletic events to yoga classes, while encouraging them to take advantage of the benefits of the human-animal bond. In addition to campus resources, we actively promoted recognition efforts through appreciation events to individual awards, recognizing that compassionate and effective work is a foundation of our reputation, and the key element of how we build a sense of community. These efforts demonstrate how our success was enhanced by supporting a sense of gratitude, while visibly promoting healthy habits that support spirit, mind, and body.

Dr. Jonathan Dear enjoys beekeeping to maintain a sense of wellness.

To fully reach our objectives we must do even more to focus on the health and well-being of our people. We must seek new ways to communicate how we care for each other, as much as we care about the outcomes of our interactions. We must also live by our shared principles of community. To serve the needs of a global society, we must value the many cultures and identities that make up our world. We should expect that each member of our community acknowledges, values, and recognizes the dignity inherent in all of us, and strives to maintain a climate of equity and justice. To realize our goals, we must be aware that integrating wellness as a daily habit will promote our individual well-being and build a sense of community with the common mission to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment.