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College approved for new academic department

Published: February 10th, 2017

Category: Infectious Diseases and Pathology, News Releases

College approved for new academic department

Veterinary Academic Building

The college’s Veterinary Academic Building, shown after recent expansion to include new laboratory space and a new clinical skills laboratory.

With approval from the University of Florida Faculty Senate in hand as of Jan. 19, the UF College of Veterinary Medicine will soon be creating a new academic department, representing the first significant organizational change the college will have undergone in 22 years.

With that change will come the creation of a fifth department — the department of comparative, diagnostic and population medicine — and a name change to one of the four remaining departments. The department of infectious diseases and pathology will become the department of infectious diseases and immunology.

“These changes are a direct reflection of how we are actively growing and evolving,” said the college’s dean, James W. Lloyd.

The other three existing departments will retain their names but will experience a few changes internally as a small group of faculty previously aligned with those departments — small animal clinical sciences, large animal clinical sciences and physiological sciences — will become associated with the new departmental unit.

“Although the motivations and justifications for these changes are many and complex, the short story is that we will now be better positioned to pursue constantly emerging opportunities and respond to ever-changing societal needs,” Lloyd said.

Faculty growth, diversification of departmental missions in teaching, research and clinical service, increased interdisciplinary interests at the faculty level and strategic planning interests all contributed to the reasoning why a new department was necessary, the dean added.

A more expansive explanation, provided in the bullets below, shed further light on the change:

  •  Faculty growth: Notable increases have been seen in the number of clinical track faculty having major assignments in teaching and clinical service activities in the two clinical departments (large animal clinical sciences and small animal clinical sciences). The growth in faculty numbers, which are almost 20 percent higher college-wide than they were just three years ago, has added to the supervisory demands on each department chair.
  • Diversification of departmental missions in teaching, research and clinical service: All departments have been impacted by this, but the research-oriented departments have increasingly found it challenging to provide full integration for clinical programs and faculty associated with those programs.
  • Increased interdisciplinary interests at the faculty level: The college now has more faculty with primary interests in and/or major assignments in clinical diagnostic services, comparative animal medicine, diagnostic research, population medicine and ecosystem health.  Together, these disciplines align closely with the concept of One Health, a term that may be defined loosely as the collaborative and multi-disciplinary approaches for optimizing the health for people, animals and the environment. A new department of comparative, diagnostic and population medicine will bring together many UF CVM faculty members with shared expertise and interests in this emerging realm of science and would strengthen campus-wide efforts to leverage the existing strengths in veterinary and human medicine and public health in order to become a world leader in the science of infectious and zoonotic diseases.  These efforts form the core of UF’s preeminence initiative under One Health as described on the UF Preeminence website.
  • Strategic planning interests: The new department will help facilitate progress in two strategic priority areas, one of which is to develop an accredited world-class diagnostic laboratory. Without exception, each of the top tier US colleges of veterinary medicine boasts a successful, highly visible and highly-respected diagnostic laboratory that is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. The list of U.S. veterinary colleges with AAVLD-accredited labs includes many of the top-ranked schools, including University of California Davis, Cornell University, Colorado State University, University of Georgia, Texas A&M University and University of Wisconsin. A preeminent laboratory diagnostics program will better prepare the UF CVM to address increasing risks from emerging infectious zoonotic diseases that are vitally important for human health and equally important for contemporary health management of Florida’s livestock, equine, companion animal, wildlife and aquatic animal species. Secondly, the new department will help enhance coordination of college-wide activities and initiatives relating to One Health by providing an environment that fosters greater collaboration at both the research and clinical levels.

A nationwide search has begun for the new department chair position. For more information, contact Dr. Steve Roberts at smroberts@ufl.edu, or Dr. John Dame, current chair of the department of infectious diseases and pathology, at damej@ufl.edu.

“I look forward to watching the new department form and grow as yet another facet of our college’s identity,” Lloyd said. “I’m certain it will provide better ways to serve not just our faculty, but our many stakeholders.”