Friday, June 5, 2015


The editors of latest spring/summer edition of the University of Minnesota “Profiles” filled this edition with notices of awards, abbreviated biographies, and obituaries of some of my veterinary contemporaries. I became a professor of pathology after graduating in 1961. I spent my life avoiding administrative positions as much as I could; thus, I spent my professional life responding to the judgment of others. Of course, I objected when it seemed appropriate to do so. I watched as veterinary education curriculums around the country slowly shift from teaching veterinarians to be professionals to teaching the how to be highly educated veterinary technicians. The new curriculum at the U of M is a classic example demonstrating that change; college curriculum committees replaced lectures with clinic time, which students applauded. As the expansion of basic knowledge accelerated, a shift took place from teaching the understanding disease to the mechanics of the treatment of disease, which was exactly the opposite of what in my opinion should have happened. Now the college is “currently in the midst of strategic planning and developing our objectives for the next five years.” I do have an opinion. The notice said, “The College of Veterinary Medicine is currently in the midst of strategic planning and developing our objectives for the next five years. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to reassess where we have been and set the course for our direction in the future. We’re focusing on the areas of research, education, service, and operational excellence. As a friend of the College, we value your input.” I observed the shift from teaching all veterinarians general clinics to fragmentation into to myriad residency species and discipline specialties, which increased the demand for more research in each specialty. More importantly, I watched, over a span of 30 or 40 years, as there was a complicated political shift in education funding in response to tax cuts from an incessant public demand to cut taxes. This change was slow and gradual. It is like landscape amnesia: most people cannot appreciate what has gradually taken place, for example, snow no longer covering a mountain. Although not immediately apparent, tax cuts resulted in severe cuts to university funding and increased demand for more overhead costs income from research grants. Commodity groups and industries welcomed and promoted this shift. College administration cut funding in much needed and appropriate basic research and the teaching needs of university professors. In its stead professors invested time, space, and talent in patentable research and providing free diagnostic services to commodity groups rather than teaching. College administrators hired researchers and not teachers. Also, this resulted in poultry groups and area practitioners directly controlling the administration of the college of veterinary medicine. Professors should never engage in "for profit" research with dwindling state funds appropriated for education nor should it function as a huge diagnostic laboratory. However, that is what they to garner the funds and to please the powerful state branch of the AVMA. Rather than fight the trends of the times, perhaps the college should join them. Shift the teaching of virology, microbiology, genetics, immunology, physiological chemistry and all other sciences to PhD’s and teach veterinarians to be what they want to be; vaccinator, repairer of broken limbs, injector of antibiotics and let others figure out the mechanisms of disease. The students always told me what they wanted to learn is to do what they saw URL: Comments Invited and not moderated

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