AASP honors dedication, achievements

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Special achievements were honored by the AASP during an awards ceremony, March 13 in Indianapolis.

Dr. Howard Hill, Iowa Falls, Iowa, announced Dr. Tom Burkgren, AASP executive director, as recipient of the Meritorious Service Award. The award is established for those who consistently give time and effort in the area of service to AASP members.

Dr. Tom Burkgren
Dr. Tom Burkgren

"I would describe our recipient as a true gentleman, a friend of all AASP members — a person who has found the balance between his personal life and family life," Dr. Hill said.

Dr. Burkgren has worked in a five-person mixed practice, in an exclusive swine practice, and as a consultant, and has taught practice management to third- and fourth-year students at Iowa State University. In 1997, he became AASP executive director.

Dr. Burkgren said, "For six years, I watched the award winners, and could tell that they all were very deserving, so I'm humbled by this. I can't imagine a better organization to work for."

Dr. David E. Reeves, University of Georgia, received the Howard Dunne Memorial Award for contributions and outstanding service to the AASP and the swine industry.

He has been a swine extension veterinarian, head extension veterinarian, and, since 1993, an associate professor of the Department of Large Animal Medicine, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Reeves also served as AASP president in 1994-1995.

"This organization has meant so much to me. I had my due this morning [while delivering the Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture (see related story, page 1377)], and I feel like I'm overdosing now. This is probably extralabel to get recognition twice in the same day and to receive this honor," Dr. Reeves said.

Dr. Gordon Spronk, Pipestone Veterinary Clinic owner, Pipestone, Minn, received the Swine Practitioner-of-the-Year Award. The award is presented to a private practitioner who has demonstrated an exceptional degree of service to his clients.

Accepting the award, he said, "Every successful person stands on the shoulders of those who go before him, and the shoulders that I stand on tonight are broad and strong. I stand on the shoulders of my father, who taught me to love agriculture ... of my mother, who taught me the love of education and self-improvement ... of educators who taught me the love of veterinary medicine, especially swine medicine, and others too numerous to mention ... of colleagues who allow me to be part of the practice of swine veterinary medicine in Minnesota and who accepted me as part of their ranks, and many others."

Dr. Lewis J. Runnels, West Lafayette, Ind, received a life membership. Dr. Runnels is a faculty member from Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Lewis Runnels
Dr. Lewis Runnels

Dr. Alan B. Scheidt, AASP immediate past president, described his former professor as "humble, intelligent, dedicated to his work, committed to his family, and an outstanding member of the AASP."

At Purdue, Dr. Runnels developed and taught a swine disease course to third-year veterinary students. On-farm teaching experience [he persuaded neighboring farmers to provide] introduced many students to swine production. Among academic achievements, Dr. Runnels was responsible for development of a swine research program, research into specific-pathogen-free swine embryo transfer, swine anesthesia protocols, and diagnostic tests for Mycoplasma.

Accepting the award, Dr. Runnels said, "I must give great credit to this organization, of which I'm a charter member, and for the fact that it has grown and developed and provides so much information and help to this profession, and keeps the veterinary profession as a part of the swine industry. In the '60s and '70s, swine people thought they didn't need veterinarians anymore. I do believe that through your great efforts, they now realize that you're partners with the industry, even though it's going through a greater change than it did at that time."