July 15, 2012


 Amendment could eliminate VP

​Duty as liaison to students would transfer to regional liaisons

Posted July 3, 2012

Dr. Jan K. Strother, AVMA vice president, visits with students at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy of Dr. Jan K. Strother​)

The Vermont and California VMAs have proposed an amendment to the AVMA Bylaws that could change the way the AVMA interacts with veterinary students.
The bylaws amendment would eliminate the position of AVMA vice president, who serves as the Association’s liaison to veterinary students, in favor of regional liaisons to the organizations represented in the Student AVMA House of Delegates.
The AVMA House of Delegates will deliberate on the proposal during its regular annual session, Aug. 2-3 in San Diego. The House Advisory Committee and the AVMA Executive Board have recommended disapproval.
The statement about the proposal notes that the two-year term of the vice president allows for only one visit to each of the veterinary colleges represented in the SAVMA HOD, with travel of 78 days per year. Many AVMA members with an interest in the position cannot accommodate so much travel, according to the statement.
The proposal is to establish six regional liaisons to the organizations represented in the SAVMA HOD, who would be able to visit veterinary colleges in their region once annually with travel of 10 to 15 days per year during a two-year term.
“I think by dividing this regionally that we could have some really dynamic people,” said Dr. Karen M. Bradley, the Vermont delegate. She said the hope is to attract veterinarians who are early in their careers to fill the positions.
In 2008, the AVMA HOD disapproved resolutions from the California VMA that would have eliminated the AVMA vice presidency and created an AVMA Student Affairs Division in place of the staff for student affairs within the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division. The AVMA HOD instead passed a resolution from the House Advisory Committee calling for the AVMA to increase interactions with students in various ways.
Dr. Richard J. Sullivan, California delegate, said the new proposal to eliminate the vice presidency is more specific by offering another approach to liaisons. He said, “I think the approach here is that we’re making something that is good, better.”
Bridget Heilsberg, SAVMA president, spoke against the proposal during the June 7-9 meeting of the AVMA Executive Board. She said the AVMA vice president is a key link between SAVMA and the AVMA.
“This proposal for regional representation would serve to divide the student body and sidestep the unified representation that SAVMA provides,” Heilsberg said.
Dr. Jan K. Strother, AVMA vice president, also spoke against the proposal during the June board meeting.
Afterward, she described the vice president as the go-to person for students. She said, “The students will tell you in no uncertain terms that having AVMA recognize the importance of SAVMA by dedicating an Executive Board officer to that position is huge for them.”
During the board meeting, Heilsberg and Dr. Strother suggested waiting for the report of the AVMA Task Force on Governance and Member Participation before making any changes to the position of vice president.