Dr. Janis H. Audin, the innovative AVMA editor-in-chief whose leadership helped advance the relevance, accessibility, and global reach of the Association’s scientific journals, died April 22, 2009. Dr. Audin, 58, of Northbrook, Ill., was a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
One month earlier, on March 23, AVMA CEO W. Ron DeHaven conferred on Dr. Audin the special title of editor-in-chief emeritus.
To celebrate her new stature, the Executive Board had approved publication of a proclamation expressing their gratitude for Dr. Audin’s service to the AVMA. The proclamation further stated that her unwavering dedication to excellence in scientific journalism serves as an illustration to others, and cited JAVMA and the American Journal of Veterinary Research as preeminent publications owing to her outstanding leadership, judgment, and guidance.
The emeritus distinction created a mechanism for Dr. Audin to continue contributing to the AVMA as her three-year battle with pancreatic cancer grew ever more challenging. Over the ensuing month, however, her health failed rapidly.
Dr. DeHaven said, “Dr. Janis Audin’s contributions to the journals, to the AVMA, and to the profession were profound, and we will be forever grateful. Between the professional journals which she lived for and the many lives she has touched and influenced, Janis Audin’s legacy will live on at AVMA.”
Associate Editor Kurt J. Matushek has been named interim editor-in-chief and interim division director. Dr. Matushek, who joined the AVMA staff in 1992, said, “Janis’ passing is a tremendous blow to the Publications Division staff. Inspired by her vision and training, we will continue to work to reach the ideals she set for us.”
Dr. Audin began her career with the AVMA in 1985 as an assistant editor in the Publications Division. She was promoted to associate editor in 1989 and editor in 1994.
Former editor-in-chief, Dr. Albert J. Koltveit said, “Within a few months after hiring Dr. Audin, I knew intuitively that she would one day become a superlative editor and administrator. She soon proved that she had all the requisite skills a good editor needs to succeed. Beyond those skills, I was pleased to discover that she had an attitude of fierce loyalty to the AVMA.
“Indeed, Dr. Audin’s contributions to the fine image of the AVMA and of veterinarians everywhere, through the pages of the JAVMA and the AJVR, will, I predict, prove to be her enduring legacy to the profession. But uppermost in my memory of Dr. Janis Huston Audin is that she strived for perfection in all tasks that confronted her.”
After Dr. Koltveit retired, Dr. Audin was promoted to editor-in-chief and division director. She served in both positions from April 15, 1995, to this March when she received the emeritus designation.
Dr. Audin always considered herself an editor-in-chief in transition. She set out to leverage leading print and electronic technologies, overseeing the conversion to desktop publishing, and helped create varied information formats for the journals’ audiences. As editor-in-chief, she led expansion of the JAVMA and AJVR from a print-only format, adding an electronic format with the AVMA Journals Online. More recently, she led the staff effort to repurpose journal content into features such as the AVMA Collections and the AVMA Ed online learning courses.
She worked to broaden the journals’ global reach while upholding the highest standards for veterinary publishing and humane treatment of animals. She enhanced the content by initiating practice-relevant features in areas such as dentistry and anesthesiology, and she worked to make the journals more relevant for the entire profession by providing articles on the many facets of veterinary medicine.
Dr. Bruce W. Little, AVMA CEO from 1995-2007, said, “Dr. Janis Audin was the consummate editor-in-chief of the AVMA publications. She had a unique set of skills, which coupled with her degrees in both science and art, gave her a broad perspective of content and readability for the journals. Her education, clinical background, and people skills made for a formidable combination in executing her duties as director of the Publications Division.”
Her creativity was evident not only in the innovations she sponsored but also in the JAVMA cover itself. The Boston native came to Illinois to earn her bachelor’s degree in art history and biology at Lake Forest College outside Chicago. This art background served her well as she coordinated the acquisition of cover art for the JAVMA for nearly a quarter century. Early on, she expanded the use of cover art to both semimonthly issues, and each year, she chose a work of art from the International Exhibition on Animals in Art to appear on the cover. To strengthen the AVMA’s creative capabilities, she added to the graphic design staff.
Commenting on the April 15 JAVMA cover—a portrait of Dr. Audin, a surprise tribute—Executive Board member Douglas G. Aspros said, “I’m glad that she got to see her photograph on the cover of JAVMA. For all the (other) great covers she chose, it was the best of them.
“Janis brought style and elegance to a potentially dry, scholarly endeavor. Her approach to a devastating disease was to just get on with the work of life, neither succumbing to the disease nor to the struggle. She sparkled.”
Executive Board Chair David L. McCrystle added, “Janis left her great mark. The board and I will miss her as a dedicated employee of the AVMA, but even more so, as a friend.”
Dr. Audin’s tenure as division director and editor-in-chief was marked by outstanding success and divisional growth. She embraced technology to cut lead time, reduce costs, and improve reporting abilities. She consolidated the two journals at a single printing location, moved to a complete in-house production system, and instituted online manuscript submission and tracking.
In recent years, ad revenue dramatically increased under her leadership, generating substantial nondues revenue. During the current economic downturn, she investigated alternatives such as online advertising to offset AVMA revenue declines.
Dr. James F. Peddie, AVMA treasurer from 1999-2005, said, “Dr. Audin—Janis—was a treasurer’s dream, always on or below budget with her expenses and consistently meeting, or more commonly, exceeding, her income goals with the operation and production of the AVMA journals.
“It’s a rare blend of traits to find an individual with her high level of creativity who also possesses sound business sense. This world has lost a multitalented, lovely, most gracious human being.”
With her knowledge of the profession and organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Audin was in demand. She found time between continual production deadlines to contribute organizationally by serving on entities such as the Long-Range Planning Committee and task forces devoted to strategic planning, communications, and headquarters renovations. As a consultant to the Executive Board Bylaws Committee, she helped develop the AVMA Bylaws adopted in 2006.
In 2007 she received an AVMA President’s Award from Dr. Roger K. Mahr. She was inducted as a distinguished practitioner in the National Academy of Practice in Veterinary Medicine in 2002.
Before joining the AVMA staff, Dr. Audin practiced small animal medicine for four years in Calumet City, Ill. At the University of Illinois, she received her master’s degree in reproductive physiology in 1977 and her DVM degree with honors two years later. She followed that with two years of clinical work and postgraduate training and research in clinical pathology at the veterinary college.
At the University of Illinois, Dean Herb Whiteley of the College of Veterinary Medicine said, “Dr. Janis Audin’s quiet but unmistakable impact was felt throughout her long tenure at the helm of two publications that reached a majority of U.S. veterinarians. She continually sought to improve access to, and quality of, information on both veterinary research and professional governance. Few people have been in a position to so broadly affect the veterinary profession over their lifetime.
“We are proud to claim her as an Illini. She will be greatly missed.”
Her alma mater honored her in 2006 with the Dr. Erwin Small Distinguished Alumni Award for being “dedicated to our profession with a quiet fervor that enables her to make things happen.” Accepting it, she said Dr. Small had infected her with his passion for organized veterinary medicine—“the glue that holds our wonderful profession together.” She added, “Like the AVMA, the JAVMA and AJVR serve the entire profession and provide touch points for the profession’s many diverse members.”
Dr. Rick DeBowes was class president their second year of veterinary college. Currently he is professor of surgery and an associate dean at Washington State University. He said, “Janis Audin assumed a quiet but strong role in the Class of 1979. She was friends to all classmates, never critical, and possessed a strong work ethic and unique humor. While many thought we would enter private practice, Janis chose a unique path and excelled, using her inner strength and quiet but strong personality of ‘getting things done.’
“Janis epitomized the essence of class in her interactions with classmates, faculty, staff, and clients. It is no surprise that she significantly impacted the veterinary medical arena in her professional life, one that, sadly, was all too short. Her passing will leave a unique void in veterinary medicine and publishing.”
In the AVMA Publications Division, Dr. Audin mentored many veterinarians as editors of the Association’s scientific journals, along with copy editors, designers, and members of the news, production, advertising, and library staffs. She set standards of excellence for the division, encouraging her staff to stay dynamic.
Dr. Audin was a member of the Illinois State and Chicago VMAs, Phi Zeta, and the American Medical Writers Association. She was active in the Society of National Association Publications, served on committees of the Council of Science Editors (formerly, Council of Biology Editors), and was instrumental in organizing and hosting the first Veterinary Medical Journal Editors meetings. She often gave presentations for veterinary colleges, pharmaceutical companies, and veterinary specialty meetings.
Dr. Audin is survived by Dr. Richard E. Guelzow (IL ’80) of Northbrook, Ill., and her brothers, Marshall Audin of Arlington, Mass., and Curt Audin of Sudbury, Mass.
It was Dr. Audin’s wish that memorial donations be made to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and designated for Animal Health Studies. Donations can be made online at www.avmf.org or mailed to the AVMF, Suite 100, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Should the donations reach $25,000 or more, the Foundation will create an Animal Health Studies endowment in her honor.
In addition, the University of Illinois veterinary class of ’79 is working to establish a scholarship at UI in Dr. Audin’s memory through the University of Illinois Foundation.