AVMA staff temporarily helping with operations
posted October 18, 2010
Members of the Auxiliary to the AVMA host events in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention,
including the organization's Marketplace of States.
Two members of the Auxiliary to the AVMA's Executive Board and both of the organization's paid employees have resigned since the group's Aug. 2 meeting in Atlanta.
Mitzi Brown, Auxiliary president, said the women all gave their resignations shortly after the Auxiliary's House of Delegates meeting, which was held in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention. She said the Auxiliary's office in Iola, Kan., has closed, and all Auxiliary property has been moved to AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. AVMA staff members are temporarily handling Auxiliary operations.
The women who resigned were Dorothy Reed and Carolyn Rule, who had served as vice presidents and members of the Auxiliary board; treasurer Jan Knewtson, a former Auxiliary president who was a paid employee appointed by the board; and Diana Turner, also a former Auxiliary president, who recently served as a paid Auxiliary employee, chaired the group's Marketplace of States, and worked with the Student Loan Fund.
Knewtson declined to comment on why she resigned, and she referred questions to her attorney. Turner resigned in August. Brown said AVMA staff members are carrying out both employees' duties under the direction of the Auxiliary board.
Rule, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., said disagreements on several issues led her to feel that she could not, "in good conscience," continue working with the Auxiliary Executive Board, but she declined to elaborate on what led to her discomfort with the board. She resigned as vice president of publications following the Auxiliary HOD meeting.
Reed, who was to become this year's vice president of the Student Loan Fund and vice president of student auxiliaries, could not be reached for comment.
Brown said there was no indication of impropriety within the organization, but the resignations followed what she described as a period of lax supervision of the Auxiliary's finances by the organization's leadership and her efforts to implement a system of checks and balances. She had pressed for more information on the organization's finances early this year, when she was preparing for her presidency, and she thinks the two employees took the inquiries personally. She did not know why the two board members resigned.
Brown expected to have more information on the Auxiliary's operations and its finances following an Auxiliary board meeting Oct. 17-18 at AVMA headquarters.
Rule said she remains a devoted member of the Auxiliary, which she joined when her husband graduated from veterinary college in 1970. But she thinks the Auxiliary will soon dissolve, and she cited membership declines in recent years as evidence.
About 440 of the Auxiliary's 1,100 members are required to pay dues to the organization, and the rest are lifetime members whose dues are waived because they have belonged to the organization for at least 40 years. However, Brown said many lifetime members continue to pay dues or make donations. Auxiliary leaders have previously reported that participation in the organization peaked in 1983 at about 8,000 members.
Rule said that, if the Auxiliary dissolves, the remaining executive board and Auxiliary members will need to decide how to disseminate money in the Student Loan Fund. Brown said the fund contains about $2 million, but that amount does not include outstanding loans.
Rule said it is difficult to deal with the possible dissolution of the Auxiliary, particularly because she and her fellow board members have worked so hard to keep the organization going.
"I'm sad about everything, but you can't keep beating yourself over something that's not working," she said.
Brown retains hope that the Auxiliary can continue operating, despite losing about 10 percent of its membership annually in recent years.
"The face of veterinary medicine is changing, and I think the face of the Auxiliary has to change along with it if we're to exist," Brown said. "We do have a modernization committee that is giving us recommendations as far as what they think the Auxiliary needs to do to be more effective in today's world versus when we first started."