Dr. Jack O. Walther addresses delegates after they elected him AVMA president-elect.
The AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Jack O. Walther of Lamoille, Nev., as AVMA president-elect for 2002-2003 at the Association's Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn., July 13.
Dr. Walther was halfway into his first term as AVMA vice president when he declared he would challenge Dr. Jan E. Bartels for the president-elect office. The two-way race brought a new dimension to AVMA elections, which, at this level, have tended to be characterized by unopposed candidacies.
After the election result was announced, an emotional Dr. Walther, flanked by his wife, Karen, said, "I'm looking forward to a big and wonderful job the next few years."
Dr. Walther has outlined eight presidential priorities. These are supporting the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues; promoting AVMA globalization; maintaining high veterinary education standards; including every AVMA entity into the governance of the Association; ensuring fiscal responsibility; developing closer ties between the AVMA and veterinary students; building additional lines of communication between AVMA officers, Executive Board members, and the HOD; and continuing development of the student mentor program.
A 1963 graduate of the University of California-Davis, Dr. Walther served as the Nevada delegate to the AVMA for 10 years and is a former chair of the AVMA Political Action Committee. He has been the president and legislative chair of the Nevada VMA, and has spent a decade on the Nevada board of veterinary medical examiners.
Prior to the HOD vote, the Nevada, Maryland, and Wisconsin delegates voiced their support for Dr. Walther's nomination.
Dr. Joseph M. Coli, the Nevada alternate delegate who nominated Dr. Walther, credited his friend of 27 years with being a team builder, leading to cooperation between leadership and the rank-and-file. "Jack listens to people and truly cares about what they have to say," Dr. Coli said. "He brings people and ideas together, shepherding them through the process of problem solving to achieve positive, desired goals."
Seconding the nomination was Wisconsin delegate Rene A. Carlson, saying that Dr. Walther is gifted with "silent leadership" and is a consensus builder. Dr. Walther recognizes issues important to the profession, she said, and has a proven track record for overcoming difficult problems. Dr. Carlson added that veterinarians, as well as nonveterinarians, respect Dr. Walther.
Dr. Walther's political experience in Nevada and with the AVMA is essential to guiding the profession's future, according to Maryland delegate Dr. John R. Brooks, who also seconded the nomination. In addition, Dr. Walther's commitment to veterinary students, culminating in his vice presidential election last year, will prove critically important as the AVMA seeks to more effectively serve incoming members in the years to come.
Dr. Brooks also noted that Dr. Walther's "investment of time and energy in the House of Delegates and the experience gained on the Executive Board further solidify the credentials that we look for in our president."
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Walther stated he plans to build upon the foundation laid by AVMA presidents, Drs. James E. Nave and James H. Brandt, as well as the initiatives Dr. Joe M. Howell will oversee during his term. He said he supports Dr. Howell's recent call for a review of the responsibilities of the Executive Board, HOD, and House Advisory Committee.
Promising not to underutilize the talent and creativity of the delegates, Dr. Walther encouraged delegates to speak their ideas to him throughout his time in office.
"I am really, really, truly looking forward to the next three years working with the House [of Delegates]," he said. "I came out of the House, you've supported me, and I want everybody in here to remember you are the ones that I work for."