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Monday, March 16, 2015

The AAVMC is Turning Fifty

By Donald F. Smith, Cornell University

The AAVMC – Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges – came of age decades ago, but 2016 marks its 50th anniversary and what a celebration it will be!

As part of the anniversary, the AAVMC is trying to build public awareness and support for academic veterinary medicine and the profession. The year-long national and grassroots communication campaign (2015-2016) will reach out to Congress, state legislatures, allied veterinary medical organizations and citizens. The celebration wraps up in Washington in March 2016 during a gala when they will announce the anniversary celebration's Grand Initiative.  With this to anticipate, the AAVMC launched its half-century celebration year at Washington’s Shoreham Hotel last weekend with a major three-day conference with 260 registrants.  

Founded in 1966 with fewer than two dozen US and Canadian veterinary colleges, the AAVMC has become an international organization. Current membership includes not only the 30 colleges and schools of veterinary medicine in the US and the five Canadian colleges, but the following international schools and colleges:

From Europe:
  •         University of London
  •         University College, Dublin
  •         University of Edinburgh
  •         University of Glasgow
  •         University of Utrecht
  •         VetAgro Sup (2)
From Australia and New Zealand:
  •         Massey University
  •         Murdoch University
  •          University of Queensland
  •          University of Melbourne
  •          University of Sydney
From North America and the Caribbean:
  •         Ross University
  •         St. George’s University
  •         Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
The expansion in international members parallels the accreditation of many foreign veterinary programs during the last decade, some of which represent the truly elite veterinary programs in the world. This has greatly enriched the academic and cultural breadth of the US and Canadian colleges and of our educational and research programs. For example, during a two-hour interactive seminar on academic leadership held on the last day of this year’s conference, the deans at the University of Dublin and University of Sydney, both women, provided substantive ideas of how their respective colleges have successfully enhanced the role of women in prominent faculty and administrative positions. Interdigitated with parallel comments from deans and faculty at several US colleges made for a vibrant and energizing exchange. We all benefit from that discourse.

While some in this country express concern about the increasing internationalization of the US veterinary profession and propose to close the door on foreign accreditation, I think cutting us off from the world in this manner would be a serious mistake.  One senior member of the faculty at the University of Edinburgh (the quintessential beacon of international veterinary education and influence) told me last September when I was at a conference in London that the initiative by some in the US to constrain AVMA’s international accreditation efforts would plunge the US veterinary community into a second-tier world veterinary power.  Perhaps his comments reflected an overzealous choice of words, but make no mistake that the world is moving forward with or without us.

For me, I am immensely proud that the AAVMC is not only “on board”, but leading the way as we make the transition into the second half of our first century.

1. In addition, affiliate members include eight US departments of veterinary sciences (such as at the University of Arizona and University of Connecticut); seven US departments of comparative medicine (such as at Johns Hopkins and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center); and six international colleges of veterinary medicine (such as at Seoul National University and Central Luzon State University in the Philippines). Angell Memorial Medical Center in Boston is also an affiliate member. Guidelines for affiliate members are in the AAVMC bylaws, Article I (
2.  Formed by the union, in 2010, of one of the oldest veterinary colleges in the world in Lyon, France (l’Ecole nationale veterinaire de Lyon), with two other related agricultural and veterinary programs.