Category: Dean’s Perspectives (Page 4 of 5)

Embracing Diversity, Opening Doors

“Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.” – Thomas Perez

IMG_0142As our nation continues to struggle to find consensus on issues related to diversity and inclusion, we find the School of Veterinary Medicine fully engaged in strengthening our mission through our diversity of talent, ideas, and skills. Our school embraces diversity and inclusion as essential values of the educational environment and the veterinary profession, and we have linked our success to these values.

diversity1We understand that diversity incorporates the assortment of personal experiences, principles, and world views that originate from differences of culture and condition. To fully address our mission to serve society and train the next generation of leaders in science and veterinary medicine, we must foster and attract the best and the brightest individuals who represent the world we seek to influence.

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Our Compassion Brings Hope for the Future

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela

The horrific events of mass killings in San Bernardino shocked all of us and made our world feel less safe and more uncertain. These emotions were particularly felt by our faculty, staff, and students who were at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino, located close to the terror event. In those frantic moments immediately following the shootings, their laboratory was on lockdown and, like others near the tragedy, they faced the fear of not knowing what was happening or if those they loved were safe or knew that they were safe.

Rachel Ferris, a third year DVM student, delivers a holiday gift basket to a client at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento. The compassion shown to clients at the clinic brings them hope in times of difficulty.

Rachel Ferris, a third year DVM student, delivers a holiday gift basket to a client at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento. The compassion shown to clients at the clinic brings them hope in times of difficulty.

When an event of that magnitude strikes close to us, we all feel less safe, and face a common reaction of fear and insecurity. A natural reaction following a senseless act of violence is hopelessness and a sense we have no power over the evil we know exists in our world. It is during times like these that we all need to move past our fears and reach out to those most affected by these tragic situations.

Our strength in the school is our ability to be compassionate and to use that emotion to guide us as healers for our animal patients and the people who are connected to those animals. The recent events in California and the world also remind us that we must also comfort those in need with a kind word, gesture, or hug, and let them know that we understand their fears and anxieties. While we may not be able to affect major changes in our society, we can control our own actions toward each other.

Our clinicians practice compassion on a daily basis in caring for animals.

Our clinicians practice compassion on a daily basis in caring for animals.

Now would be a good time to contact the people who work in the laboratory at San Bernardino and let them know that we understand their apprehension and sense of vulnerability following the terror event that occurred near them. While we are offering resources of support for those affected by the stress of the aftermath of a terror event and enhanced security measures for the laboratory, we must also understand that the human touch, an outreached hand or gesture of random kindness, goes a long ways to let people in need feel less insecure.

With our colleagues in San Bernardino, we share in the common mission of our jobs and in our reaction to tragic events. As we all face an uncertain future, we must come together to support each other and, in that moment, find new strength. Our people and their character to endure in the face of adversity must be balanced by sharing our common grief and sadness when tragedy strikes. In joining in our moment of weakness, we will find our common sense of humanity to help us understand the darkness, while keeping our faith in the future.





A Season of Gratitude

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

appreciation dinnerDuring this Thanksgiving season, it is a good time to reflect on the blessings we have in our lives. Taking the time to be thankful helps to enrich our lives and links us together. As I consider what I am thankful for, many people and programs across our school come to mind. Recently, leaders of the veterinary hospital joined my office to express our gratitude at a dinner held to honor all of the volunteers, staff, faculty, and students who helped during the Valley and Butte fires. These dedicated individuals characterize the compassion inherent in those drawn to help animals and people during a time of crisis.

Our veterinary students have formed a new “Gratitude Committee” as part of their efforts to holistically address wellness and mental health. They are reaching out to those who touch their lives to express their thankfulness for enriching their school experiences. These students understand the emotional power of saying “thank you,” not only on those they acknowledge, but also on those who give thanks.

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Walk the Walk of Mentorship

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg

Companion Exotic Animal Medicine & Surgery Service (CAPES) resident Dr. Miranda Sadar (right), accompanied by student Athena Gianopoulos and staff, prep and neuter a pet rabbit at the veterinary hospital.

Companion Exotic Animal Medicine & Surgery Service (CAPES) resident Dr. Miranda Sadar (right), accompanied by student Athena Gianopoulos and staff, prep and neuter a pet rabbit at the veterinary hospital.

At the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, we are in the business of mentoring on a daily basis.  An important aspect of our educational mission as we train the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine and science is creating an environment that fosters best practices in mentoring. Faculty, staff, deans, and students all benefit from being mentored and if each of us thought for a minute, we could likely recall a key mentor in our lives that helped guide us at critical junctions in our careers.

There are various types of mentors. A mentor can serve the purpose to inform a mentee about a field of study or become more involved as a career mentor devoted to the professional development of their mentee. A life mentor often provides guidance beyond professional career growth and may discuss wellness and the balance of work-life with those they advise. Peers can be effective mentors and provide more informal guidance.

Students meet with prospective employers at the 2015 Career and Networking Night organized by the Career and Wellness Center.

Students meet with prospective employers at the 2015 Career and Networking Night organized by the Career and Wellness Center.

To be an effective primary mentor for someone requires a synthesis of all of the advice and information, and the ability to map a pathway for the professional and personal growth of the person who is being mentored. Regardless of the type of mentor-mentee relationship, effective mentoring is the joint responsibility of the academic or program unit, the faculty or clinician advisors, and the person who is the mentee. To this end, we have developed the SVM Career, Leadership and Wellness Center,  which offers numerous professional and career development services to support the success of our DVM students.

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Linking the Past to Our Future

“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” – Lord Acton

This past weekend our school held its annual “Alumni Weekend,” welcoming back to campus selected veterinary classes from 1952 to 2005. Since the first graduates emerged from Haring Hall in 1952, our school has prepared more than 5,000 men and women for careers in clinical veterinary practice, research, public service and academia. Many of our alumni have become leaders in their community, teachers, researchers and scientists of international stature. The success of our alumni is one of the primary reasons that the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is internationally recognized as a global leader in veterinary medicine, agricultural, public health, and biomedical research.

A new website has been created to highlight the history of the school and to remind our alumni that they are part of our collective history. This weekend solidified my belief that our alumni are a hidden strength to our current success—a vital link to our past and a foundation for our future.

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In the Service of Others

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Dean Lairmore visits Aiden the cat, being cared for by Neurology/Neurosurgery technicians Robin Fischer and Brianna Holland.

The disastrous Valley and Butte fires have tested our communities and colleagues, bringing more dread with each new wave of bad news. The fourth year of an insidious drought and the subsequent explosive fires this season have brought devastation to our region, threatening people, property, and their animals. Our emergency response teams, led by Drs. Claudia Sonder, John Madigan, Eric Davis and many others, did not hesitate in their response, immediately offering their compassionate expertise to relieve animal and human suffering. They were quickly joined by a broad coalition of veterinarians from the communities affected by the fires and from the California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps of the California Veterinary Medical Association.

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Dean’s Perspective: Empathic Listening a Key to Success

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

20479275890_69d027c102_kLast week we welcomed the Class of 2019 into our school, the 68th class to begin their careers as veterinarians with us. I had the privilege of greeting them across the stage at our White Coat Ceremony and then engaging with a group of our new students in facilitating a problem-based learning exercise focused on effective client communications. A common theme throughout the orientation week and in early classes offered for our new students is relationship-centered, empathic listening as a key to client communications and positive animal-patient outcomes. During this important introduction to our school, Dr. Jim Clark, staff teams, and faculty facilitators effectively encouraged, guided, and inspired the first year students throughout the Prologue week and into their first week of classes.

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Dean’s Perspective: Collaboration to Solve Global Health Challenges

Dean Lairmore getting a few moments to chat with Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty.

Dean Lairmore getting a few moments to chat with Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty.

“I get a lot of credit for work a whole group of people do. The collaborative research happening now is really being driven by young people.” – Peter Doherty, DVM, PhD, Nobel Laureate, at the Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholar Symposium held at UC Davis, July 30-August 2, 2015

This past weekend, I could not have been more proud of our team in the Office of Research and Graduate Education and the many volunteer faculty, staff, and students from our school, who worked very hard to plan and execute the Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium.

Staff volunteers at the symposium.

The Symposium brought together over 600 veterinary students and their mentors from across the nation. The event was highly organized and provided an outstanding forum to allow students to network with fellow students and scientists from many different disciplines and fields of study. A palpable excitement permeated the conference held in the Mondavi Center for the Arts, the UC Davis Conference Center and the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center.

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Dean’s Perspective: Student Leadership

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

Dean Lairmore with members of SCAVMA.

A primary goal in our strategic plan is to educate world leaders in veterinary medicine who will contribute to our society in multiple fields, from private practice to public health. During the most recent American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting, I was able to observe the benefits of our leadership training for our veterinary students. The student leaders of our Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) came to the AVMA meeting to network with national leaders, meet students from other schools, and promote the values of professionalism and engagement.

While the concept of a national association of Student Chapters of the AVMA was first proposed in 1966, it was the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine SAVMA who elected a committee in 1969 that set the framework for the proposed national student association. Our current students have continued this tradition of involvement at the national level by addressing important issues facing students, such as student debt and mental health and wellness. 

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Dean’s Perspective: Follow Your Passion

“Follow what you are genuinely passionate about and let that guide you to your destination.” – Diane Sawyer

The class of 2015 UC Davis veterinary students have their White Coat Ceremony at the end of their first week of orientation where they're presented with their white coats and recite the veterinarian's oath.

Full of passion and excitement, the Class of 2015 finished the end of their first week of orientation and received their white coats during a ceremony four years ago.

As we approach the 64th commencement ceremony of our school, it is appropriate to turn our thoughts to the graduates of the Class of 2015. They came to us with a strong desire to gain the knowledge and skills of a great profession, and a passion to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment. They will be graduating from the premier institution of its kind and will be entering a world of great promise and many challenges. From its beginnings, our school has made its mission to advance veterinary medicine, but also to tackle problems faced by our society. We have a rich history of accomplishments that have benefitted both human and animal health. Our school leads the nation in research funding among all veterinary schools and we have one of the largest endowments to help fund our growing scholarship program for our students and enhance the work of our world-class faculty. Our exceptional staff serves as our foundation and through their commitment and good work, demonstrate daily that they are the glue that supports our mission. 

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