Dr. Lawrence E. Heider has announced his retirement from the role of executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, effective Aug. 31.
Dr. Heider noted the AAVMC has come a long way in the past five years that he has been a part of it. But a new leader with different attributes is needed, he said, to take the association to the next level of effectiveness.
"I believe that for an association like the AAVMC, it's good to have a change of leadership from time to time," Dr. Heider said. He noted that his successor would need a strong background in legislative and governmental affairs, and the ability to develop effective relationships that lead to more financial sponsorships of AAVMC programs.
Among his many accomplishments at AAVMC, Dr. Heider oversaw the introduction of the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act that was introduced in the 109th Congress. The bill is expected to be reintroduced in the 110th Congress. The legislation would authorize a competitive grants program for veterinary colleges to increase enrollment to meet critical national shortages in public health practice and other areas of the profession.
Dr. Heider facilitated the development of DiVersity Matters, a national program to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in veterinary medicine.
In addition, Dr. Heider initiated a foresight analysis project to determine a future direction for academic veterinary medicine that would prepare veterinarians for the opportunities and possibilities that may emerge within the next 25 years.
Dr. Heider also commissioned a comprehensive study of the current and future veterinary medical workforce needs to come from the National Research Council at the National Academies. The council is in the process of convening an expert committee for the study.
"Dr. Heider is a visionary leader who has taken the AAVMC to a new level of prominence," said Dr. Lance Perryman, AAVMC president and dean of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "His leadership, especially in workforce development and diversity, will benefit the entire profession for years to come."
The AAVMC board of directors initiated a search for the next executive director in February, and anticipates Dr. Heider's successor will assume the duties of the position on Sept. 1, 2007.
Dr. Heider has served in the veterinary profession for 43 years, graduating in 1964 from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He operated an international consulting firm in Canada for three years before joining the AAVMC in 2002. He served at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada as dean of the Atlantic Veterinary College from 1991-1998 and as interim president of the university from 1998-1999. Much of his career was spent at OSU, where he held roles such as director of the veterinary teaching hospital and chair of the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
While Dr. Heider said he immensely enjoys working at the AAVMC, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including three young grandsons who live just a few miles from his home in Ohio. As for organized veterinary medicine, he plans to look into volunteer opportunities at several veterinary organizations.