Tag: leadership (Page 1 of 2)

Resiliency as a Critical Component of Success

Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.”- Bernard Williams

Members of the Class of 2018 during their White Coat ceremony in 2014 at their induction into veterinary school.

As commencement season begins, my thoughts turn to our new graduates who will soon receive their DVM degree. Since the establishment of the school in 1948, we have been leaders in veterinary medicine by working to benefit the health of animals, people, and the environment in California and beyond. Our school, and its alumni, have shaped the field of veterinary medicine, from developing innovative education programs to discovering mechanisms of animal and human diseases. Our new graduates join this legacy.

The Class of 2018 came to us with an intense desire to gain the skills of this great profession and a passion to advance animal health. They are graduating into a world of great promise, and many challenges. Along the way, they have enriched the school’s history with their own unique characteristics that bonded them to each other and to those that trained them. The many hours of study and exams, along with the countless time spent with their animal patients, are the tip of the iceberg of the journey it took to get them to this moment. Each of them has their own unique story to tell. Each of them has overcome barriers, faced doubt from others and in themselves, or may have endured heartbreaking events that changed their path along this voyage.

Importantly, they would not be at this touchstone along their career unless they possessed a trait that is critical to anyone’s success in life—a characteristic as important as the knowledge learned in veterinary school. They had to be resilient in their own way. Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

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Celebrating Diversity as a Source of Strength

The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.” -Joshua Waitzkin

As I watched our students celebrate our annual Diversity Day, I was impressed with their unity expressed through their voices, spirit, and talents. Our students’ energy reflected the strength that is exhibited when we celebrate our nation’s multicultural tapestry. We celebrate those that join us from various backgrounds and cultures, learning from each other as we come together with a common purpose to foster education, research, and service to society.

It is no surprise that in the business world, companies with top quartile diversity (defined as women and international representatives) on their executive boards, generated returns that were ~50% higher, on average, than the companies in the bottom diversity quartile. We should not be surprised that in our profession, when we harness the power of a diverse workforce, we better position ourselves to address society’s problems. Our school has consistently demonstrated our commitment to recruit a diverse workforce and student population. For example, we consistently rank in the top three institutions nationally in our numbers of under-represented groups for our veterinary professional students.

These statistics, while impressive, do not measure what empowers our students, faculty, and staff. Equally important to a successful and diverse workforce is resiliency. Diversity is synergistic with resiliency; mirror images of each other. When we open ourselves to learn from others and listen to their experiences, we draw strength from their ideas and history. The characteristic of a resilient person is not easy to quantify, as it is often only revealed after adversity is introduced to their lives, shattering their plans and perceptions of the future.

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Excellence as a Result of Habit

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle

The school has been recognized for the fourth year in a row as the #1 program in the world in veterinary science by QS World University Rankings. So how is excellence measured? It is my belief that the quality of any organization is built from the character, values, talent, and work ethics of its people. Without the habits of excellence brought to work each day by our faculty, staff, house officers, graduate students, and veterinary students, we would not be recognized as the global leader in veterinary medicine. While our buildings, laboratories, hospitals, and other resources are critical for us to do our work, we would be a far less effective organization if it were not for the quality of our people.

At the heart of what we do is the education of the next generation of veterinarians, research scientists, and veterinary specialists. Our educators work tirelessly to improve our curriculum, bringing outcome-driving, and adult-learning models to spark life-long learning as a habit in our trainees and students. The many hours our teachers and staff put into their lectures, teaching laboratories, notes, and course materials is paid back to them in the success of our graduates, who fill important jobs throughout the world in private practices, industry, and government. We seek to develop leaders in all facets of jobs that are filled by our alumni, and desire to reconnect with them as we delight in their successes.  

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Welcoming a New Year With a Focus on Wellness

“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.

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Supporting Equine Health

“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.” –Pam Brown

Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Albany, California. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis
© 2013 UC Regents

Horses have played a key role in the history of California, as an early form of transportation and symbol of the West, to today’s equine athletes thrilling us with their power and grace. Horses touch the human soul with their spirit and beauty. Watching the recent Breeder’s Cup horse racing events held at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack in San Diego, I marveled at the power and strength of the horses as they thundered down the track. Jockeys in their bright colored jerseys, in rhythm with their rides, flashing by to the roar of the crowd.

Our school has an extensive history of supporting equine health, allowing people that love horses to project their dreams through these majestic animals. A state-of-the-art equine drug testing laboratory to protect the horse racing industry was the dream of the late Kenneth L. Maddy, a California legislator, avid horseman and supporter of veterinary education. He would be proud to know that the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, within the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, was recently recognized as one of only five labs by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) as an “IFHA Reference Laboratory.”

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Leading the Way to the Future of Veterinary Medicine

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”– Malala Yousafzai

Dr. Claudia Sonder leads a mini horse to safety in the aftermath of recent fires near Napa.

As a community, I know we all grieve the loss and devastation associated with the multitude of fires in northern California that our regional neighbors are experiencing. In times of natural disaster, we stand ready to assist the animal victims and their owners caught in the path of these fires. We have a number of activities already underway and resources available to respond to official county and state requests. We provide our assistance to address regional needs as we have always done in times of necessity.

A rendering of the exterior of the future Equine Performance Center.

This week we launch a new beginning for our school as we “lead the way” toward the future of veterinary medicine. Our plans and dreams for a new Veterinary Medical Center build upon the legacy of our past and the vision of our future. The need for these improvements has been amplified with this week’s fire disasters, as our facilities harbor those animals in need of our care and offer relief for our neighbors through our outreach programs. We seek to create the future, by building on the accomplishments and dreams of those that have come before us, building new trails in research discoveries that advance the health of animals, people, and our environment.

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Fall Faculty Reception: Celebrating our Past, Honoring Excellence, and Welcoming New Faculty

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

New faculty members Drs. Blythe Jurewicz and Ilana Halperin

During our Fall Faculty Reception, we welcome new faculty, honor current faculty achievements and recognize those that provide exception service to our school. In doing so, it is a good time for us to reflect upon how our school has obtained its international reputation as a leader in veterinary medical education and scientific discovery. While we recognize only a few deserving individuals during these events, we are reminded that the creativity and energy of our faculty and volunteers drives us to address societal issues, create new and fundamental knowledge, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe (left), Chief Executive Officer of the AAVMC, visits with Drs. John Pascoe and Isaac Pessah.

Dr. Helen Raybould is honored this year as the Zoetis Excellence in Research Awardee for her outstanding research clarifying the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome, interactions that have been shown to influence obesity and inflammatory responses. Her research has advanced the understanding of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders, as well as led to the identification of new targets to treat and prevent obesity.

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Addressing Societal Needs by Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

“Infectious disease exists at this intersection between real science, medicine, public health, social policy, and human conflict.” – Andrea Barrett

As part of our school’s vision, we seek to address societal needs. In challenging ourselves to this daunting task of working to solve the most vexing problems our world faces, we find our people and programs drawn toward the interface of science, public health, and policy. In opening remarks at the recent G20 Conference, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, praised Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel for recognizing that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to the health of the world’s populations and the future of economies of the many countries.

He indicated that as many as 700,000 people worldwide are already dying each year because of drug-resistant infections and that the cumulative economic cost of AMR will reach 100 trillion dollars by 2050, a cost primarily borne by low and middle income countries. The Secretary-General went on to suggest that “by implementing existing international commitments and recommendations of the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Organization for Animal Health, countries can promote a more appropriate use of antimicrobials in a true ‘One Health’ framework.”

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Innovation and Creativity Lead to Positive Change

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

We all marvel at those among us that are creative in their approach to life and work. Through the vision of those who innovate, we see creativity put into action—in some cases changing the world. In our society, we celebrate pioneering changes that improve the health and well-being of animals, people, and our environment. Throughout our school’s history, we have always embraced new ideas, cutting-edge treatments, and novel discoveries that bring about positive changes in veterinary medicine and biomedical or agricultural sciences.

Our faculty, staff, and students are eager to explore new ways to educate themselves and those they teach, through educational initiatives that embrace unique technologies to expand our intellectual horizons. This thirst for implementation of new ideas is a founding principle that allows us to maintain our global leadership position in research, education, and service to our communities.

So how do you encourage or promote innovation and creativity? Forbes magazine suggests that the workplace needs to be “relaxed and flexible” to increase productivity and encourage new ideas. Certainly, most would agree that lowering the barriers to sharing concepts includes an atmosphere that encourages a free flow of new ideas. Idea generation supported by an inventive environment is a starting point of the process of positive change. 

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Education as a Tool for the Future

“Education is not a tool for development – individual, community and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.” – Nita Ambani

Members of the Class of 2017 came to us nearly four years ago to begin their journey of obtaining a DVM degree. Here they recite the veterinarian’s oath during their induction ceremony.

As our graduates start their journey into the world, we are inspired by their thirst for knowledge, energy, and new ideas. They come to us seeking to be enlightened and in turn shine their radiance on us, stimulating us by sharing their dreams. Throughout their time here, they have challenged us to be better mentors and create opportunities for them to change the world. Our graduate students have discovered insights into topics ranging from the protection of our environment to mechanisms of cancer. Our house officers will be bringing their special skills to grateful clients throughout the world, expanding treatments and setting new standards of care. Our veterinary students will now be called “doctor” for the first time and disperse into fields ranging from private practice to public health, each determined to make a difference in the lives of their animal patients and humankind.

Seems like yesterday that the Class of 2016 were celebrating their commencement.

As our students, residents, and graduate students leave us, they remind us of the power of youth and dreams. Their educational journey started with their desire to gain the knowledge and skills to advance animal, human, or environmental health. They are starting into the post-graduation realm during a time of great possibilities, and many challenges. Each new graduate joins an illustrious history of UC Davis. They have enhanced the school’s legacy of producing leaders who will make a positive impact in the world. For our faculty and staff, I would ask you to reach out to those leaving and discuss their plans for the future; ask them to take a moment to reflect on their time and their fond memories, and forgive us of our short comings. Ask them to believe in themselves, as you know they have worked through difficult years of study to arrive at the place they are now.

In a few short weeks, the members of the Class of 2017 will wear graduation robes in place of these white coats.

We have provided them the tools to change the world, but it is their drive and creativity that allow them to achieve their vision. They came to us to learn, and in the process, taught us many life lessons. Each one of them have expanded the school’s history with their own distinctive stories. Their challenge will be to extend their talents beyond the classroom, clinic, and laboratory to venture into communities across the globe and build the future. Our students come to us as strangers and leave as friends and colleagues that have formed enduring bonds that will last our lifetimes.

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