As I approach the two-year mark of my time here at the college, I have the pleasure of becoming acquainted with many of you personally, as I have traveled throughout the state and the country, visiting practices, attending meetings, and sharing the story of our college and its outstanding people and programs.
And what an extraordinary and inspiring story it is!
Back in 1980, we graduated 37 DVMs – the first veterinarians ever to be trained in the state of Florida. Today, we proudly boast more than 2500 alumni, located both here in Florida and around the world. Our graduates are transforming the veterinary medical profession as we know it, including our valued relationships with animals across species, and are working to reinvent the very core of biomedical science. I am extremely proud of our college, your college, and am determined, along with my colleagues, to make the next chapter of our story even more remarkable. As always, we are focused on promoting world-class research, clinical service and community engagement and there are far too many exciting things taking place on our campus to fully address in this column.
We have talked a lot about the college’s strategic plan, which is being implemented with significant momentum in all areas of our mission – research, education and clinical services. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress, but you can also watch for updates on our website at www.vetmed.ufl.edu.
There are two key initiatives, however, that I do want to mention. First, we are in the process of launching a critical program to enrich the relationship between UF CVM and our alumni. Now that we have a full complement of alumni working across this great profession, we recognize that it’s time to explore how we might enhance our partnership with alumni, so that we are all more successful at what we do. We’ve already initiated a conversation in this regard with the thought leaders from Alumni Council, and we’ll be rolling out a process for broader and more active alumni engagement in the coming weeks and months. As we consider ways to enhance these relationships, all alumni will have the opportunity for input. It may sound cliché, but the outcome will be a solid win-win.
Secondly, we recognize the growing impact of increasing student debt levels on the veterinary medical profession today. To that end, we have just launched a major new scholarship initiative, which will be the first of its magnitude in the history of the veterinary medical profession. Through this campaign for scholarships, we intend to reverse the trend of climbing student debt for the average CVM student. As the project unfolds, we will keep everyone updated so stay tuned for more information about our progress.
I am so proud to announce that spearheading this new initiative will be our own Patricia Wlasuk. Many of you know Patricia, who has been a key member of our development staff for several years now, working closely with Karen Legato. I am thrilled that Patricia has accepted this new position and am confident that she will lead us capably through this effort, with your help, to break the stranglehold of escalating student debt loads for future veterinarians.
James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Professor and Dean