Faculty member honored at Celebrating Distinction ceremony

Dr. Cynda Crawford
Dean Dana Zimmel, Charles Saltzman and Dr. Cynda Crawford, the Fredrica Saltzman Endowed Professorship Chair of Shelter Medicine.

Dr. Cynda Crawford, who holds the Fredrica Saltzman Endowed Professorship Chair in Shelter Medicine, was one of 33 endowed professors and chairs across the six University of Florida Health colleges who were honored during a special Celebrating Distinction ceremony on October 13.

The event was held for the first time since 2019. Hosted by Dr. David Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida and president of UF Health, all six deans were able to present this distinguished honor to their colleagues. Crawford was the only UF College of Veterinary Medicine faculty member to be officially installed during the event.

Appointment to a professorship or chair is one of the highest honors a college can bestow on a faculty member and is reserved for scholars of national and international acclaim. These designations would not be possible without the generosity of donors who choose to invest in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s faculty and its programs.

Honored for her work as an educator of future generations of animal shelter veterinarians, Crawford’s appointment was made possible by a generous gift from animal rescuers Charles and Diane Saltzman. Named for Diane’s first animal rescue over 50 years ago and their canine companion, the endowment ensures that future generations of veterinarians will be able to receive the necessary training developed through evidence-based strategies and protocols that will save lives of countless animals.

The couple is well-known for its long support for the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, including funding training programs for interns and veterinary students for hands-on experience in shelters and scholarships. They also invest their own sweat equity, sewing thousands of catnip pillows for shelter cats and making annual pilgrimages to Gainesville to volunteer in the local community cat trap-neuter-return program Operation Catnip.

Crawford’s expertise includes diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of infectious diseases in dogs and cats in sheltering facilities. She focuses on viruses and bacteria that cause outbreaks of respiratory infections in shelter dogs. Her accomplishments include discovery of canine influenza virus and contributions to the development of the canine influenza vaccine that is widely used today. She partnered with Dr. Julie Levy to co-found the Shelter Medicine Program at UF and its Professional Certificate in Shelter Medicine for advanced training of veterinary students in the knowledge and skills to serve as veterinarians in shelters.

“If Diane and I had the ability to design the one program that would provide lasting benefits for animals around the world, we could not have done any better than what UF Shelter Medicine Program has become,” Charles Saltzman said. “Our gift that created this endowed chair will ensure that the protocols learned in this program and dedication to the betterment of animals everywhere will survive for generations to come.”

He added, “These shelter medicine professionals will be saving individual lives, one at a time. But more importantly, saving thousands of lives during long careers as they are trained in the disciplines that are unique to animal shelters.”