“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” –Leonardo da Vinci

This time of year brings us reflections of the past year and ways to consider the events of our lives as a collection of memories both good and bad. We can then look to the future with expressions of hope.  It is easy for me to be optimistic when I think of all that has occurred at the School in the past year—because those accomplishments are helping to create a better future.

This year our scientists made discoveries of novel infectious disease agents at the interface of nature, animals, and people.  They led efforts to uncover patterns in the world around us to advance our understanding of disease mechanisms and how to predict their impact in the future.  Our clinicians, residents, and staff developed and executed clinical trials that translated their clinical perceptions about the conditions of their animal patients into evidence-based treatments to improve their lives.  Our clinicians and staff, working in interdisciplinary teams, produced new tools to inform treatment plans and preserve animal health.  Throughout this past year, our scientists reported on studies that helped us understand our natural world and ways to help preserve the animals and ecosystems we value.

Our diagnosticians worked tirelessly to protect our food supply and prevent catastrophic damage to the nation’s economy.  Through our outreach efforts we compassionately served communities in need in underserved areas and in times of disasters.  In our hospitals and in the field, our staff, residents, and clinicians treated patients, both great and small, with skill, kindness and understanding knowing the central role their animal patients have in the lives of the people they served.  Small miracles happened daily in our hospital—from new breakthroughs in surgery to acts of kindness that changed the lives of those who came to us asking for our healing touch.

In our classrooms, laboratories, and clinics our students and trainees expanded their knowledge and skills—learning from the teachings of experienced and dedicated educators who are driven by their love of teaching those who will define the future. Our students’ energy and drive inspired all of us to explore new ways to educate them through improved collaborative approaches and novel technology. We supported them with expanded financial and education resources, as well as investments to expand mental health and wellness offerings. I am proud of those who promoted our Principles of Community that bring us together by valuing contributions to all aspects of the School’s mission. We made progress to enhance ways to promote diversity, inclusion, and multicultural awareness through our work and in our communities.

While our devotion to our work may be constant, we need to take the time during the holiday season to reflect upon our collective good fortunes and recognize how much we share in common. I am inspired by our accomplishments and dedication to improving health—of animals, humans and the planet. My hope during this season of contemplation is for us all to learn from our daily challenges and imagine and create the world we wish for those who will follow us.