Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Dr. Dick Dillman, long time retired professor of veterinary pathology died Sunday June 7th, 2015. The more I think about it, I am sure I will feel the loss more as a professional colleague than as a personal friend, although there was friendship as well. It wasn’t until November of 1983 that I first met the man. However, while I was at the University of Minnesota, I knew him by name as a pathologist working in the Veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Iowa. He often said to me, “Reading your CV is like reading my own.” We were three months different in age. We graduated from high school the same year, joined the Navy, and went to Korea during that war, returned to go to college only because the GI Bill of Right made it affordable. After undergraduate college, we both went to veterinary college followed by very short but unhappy experiences in private practice and returned to graduate school to study pathology. We both became assistant professors; he in Iowa and me in clinical pathology in Minnesota. After many years, we both left our respective jobs and ended up at North Carolina State University. We had something else in common; even though we had Ph.D. degrees in veterinary pathology, the American College of Veterinary Pathologists considered neither of us pathologists. Unlike me, Dick was sensitive to the resulting criticism from almost every other veterinary pathologist for not having jumped through their nonsensical hurdle of a test. We finished graduate school just as board certification was first happening, which meant we would have to spend several years studying rodent pathology and eventually take a certification examination. We both were interested and had experience in farm and companion animals but mainly with farm animals; in contrast, pathologists engaged in industrial research, which deals extensively with rodents and laboratory animals, wrote the test. The irony is that if a clinician had a problem with a diagnosis they came to Dick for the answer, not to board certified pathologists. Dick’s outstanding quality was his teaching ability. He handled and actually taught all of basic pathology to the sophomore veterinary students, a task shunned by certified pathologists instead of doing research. His years of experience gave him a fundamental and comprehensive sense of his disciple also to a sincere interest in knowing each student. He topped his teaching ability with his quick wit; we all knew his bald head was a solar collector for a sex machine, and that left-handed people are smarter that right-handed people. He engaged students during his lectures, which meant he did not stand in front of the class and read notes. Without question, he was the best teacher I had ever encountered not only from the point of view of subject knowledge but because of his rapport with students. Dick had come to NCSU before the veterinary college was born at that institution. He served as the “pre-vet” advisor; as such, he was acquainted with literally every student who entered the college. He has a great and living legacy in his students most of us do not have. I will miss him at lunch every Tuesday. The lunch is an event that has happened for the last or two or three years with the founding dean and a few other “shadows of the past” that were instrumental in forming the college. I should point out that this is relatively recent. Dick and our fellow colleagues have been going to lunch since 1984—that is a long time, but is all changed now. URL: Comments Invited and not moderated

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