September 15, 2009


 Student AVMA weighs financial proposals at summer meeting

Dues increase, donation to VLE approved after much discussion

Posted Sept. 1, 2009  

Key decisions on fiscal and leadership matters provided fodder for plenty of debate at the Student AVMA House of Delegates summer meeting. The event took place July 12-13 during the 146th AVMA Annual Convention in Seattle.

Delegates discussed whether to approve a dues increase and whether to fund the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience, not to mention a host of other issues, including the establishment of a new permanent position on the SAVMA Executive Committee.

Student AVMA
Students from U.S. veterinary colleges and, for the first time, all three Caribbean veterinary
schools, took part in the Student AVMA House of Delegates summer meeting July 12-13 in Seattle.

In all, two delegates from each U.S. veterinary college, as well as the three recognized associate veterinary schools from the Caribbean Islands—St. George's University, Ross University, and St. Matthew's University—were in attendance. This was the first time St. Matthew's sent delegates to the SAVMA HOD.  

Activities and actions

One action that generated much input at this year's meeting was the approval of a SAVMA dues increase of $2 per student member, set to become effective this fall. Talk of the increase first surfaced this past year in New Orleans. At the most recent meeting, a number of students expressed concern over the willingness of students to pay increased dues in light of the current economy. Others argued the increase was small enough to handle. Dr. Derrick D. Hall, an AVMA assistant director of membership and field services and co-adviser to the Student AVMA, said expenses had been exceeding income, and that dues had not been raised since 2000. Further, costs were trimmed last year and not much was left to cut, he said.  

The resolution was approved, adding roughly $22,000 to SAVMA's budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Another financial recommendation that received much attention was the proposal to make a one-time donation of $25,000, using SAVMA reserves, to help fund the Veterinary Leadership Experience in 2010. The leadership and team-building conference is held annually in Idaho through Washington State University. Many SAVMA members were eager to voice their support, although approval was not without debate, as some delegates expressed concern over the use of SAVMA reserves.

A day later the AVMA Executive Board disapproved a recommendation to commit a total of $300,000 in AVMA sponsorship dollars to the VLE over the next four years. The board cited budgetary constraints and questioned whether the Association's money could be more effectively used on other veterinary student initiatives (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2009).

In other SAVMA HOD action, the global and public health officer ad hoc position, which had been approved on a temporary basis, is now on track to become a permanent position on the SAVMA Executive Committee. The SAVMA HOD will begin to make the necessary governance document changes. Ryan Colburn from Michigan State University will continue in this position until SAVMA Symposium 2010.  

Looking to the future

SAVMA President Rebecca Steers (TUF '10) highlighted an upcoming intensive review and revision of the SAVMA governance documents. Six SAVMA Executive Committee members will undertake the project this year. The goal is to restructure the documents, model them more closely to the AVMA's, and make them more user friendly. A Governance Documents Review Ad Hoc Committee will meet at AVMA headquarters in September to begin revisions.  

Virginia Kiefer (TEN '10), international exchange officer, announced that the long-awaited International Exchange Web site is up and running. The site, includes links for those looking for exchange opportunities. Kiefer also noted that the upcoming SAVMA Membership Survey is set to come out this fall. The data will be used to help improve services and resources provided to students.

Colburn highlighted this year's One Health Challenge—Obesity Awareness. National Obesity Awareness Day is Oct. 14. AVMA-donated obesity awareness and prevention kits developed with Hill's Pet Nutrition and $400 in start-up funds will be available for SAVMA chapters wishing to put on local events. Money raised from events will be placed in a One Health Challenge Grant Fund.

A host of guest speakers gave talks at the meeting. They were the newly installed AVMA president, Dr. Larry R. Corry; Dr. Mark T. Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division; Dr. Michael J. Gilsdorf, executive vice president of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians; Dr. Linda J. Ellis, AVMA PLIT; and Dr. Robert E. "Bud" Hertzog, chair of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's board of directors.  

SAVMA officers

An unprecedented five executive committee positions were up for election because of the addition of the global and public health ad hoc executive officer position. The newly elected and their positions are Jennifer Lu, Oklahoma State University, secretary-elect; Brian Zulauf, Oregon State University, treasurer-elect; Garrett Stewart, Kansas State University, information technology officer-elect; Robin Hansen, University of Illinois, The Vet Gazette editor-elect; and Chris Koivisto, North Carolina State University, global and public health officer-elect ad hoc

The officers who will continue their service until SAVMA Symposium 2010 are Rebecca Steers, Tufts-Cummings, president; Aaron Gibbons, Washington State University, president-elect; David Laubert, University of Illinois, secretary; Brandon Boren, Western University, information technology officer; Virginia Kiefer, University of Tennessee, international exchange officer; Deirdre Murdy, Western University, international exchange officer-elect; Jennifer Bruno, Louisiana State University, treasurer; Christopher Hall, Purdue University, The Vet Gazette editor; and Ryan Colburn, Michigan State University, global and public health officer ad hoc.

The Student AVMA HOD reconvenes at SAVMA Symposium 2010, March 10-14 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.