Laurels and legacies

AVMA fetes individuals at convention for standout work
Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

The AVMA during the Annual Convention in New Orleans conferred its prestigious awards on 15 individuals who have made lasting contributions to the veterinary profession. The recipients were honored over the course of two events, the Opening Session and the President's Installation Luncheon.

Dr. Shaw
Dr. Jane R. Shaw
Dr. Robinson
Dr. Theodore B. Robinson
Dr. Eyre
Dr. Peter Eyre


Dr. Noordsy
Dr. John L. Noordsy
Darlene M. Verbelia
Darlene M. Verbelia

Opening Session tributes

Five AVMA members and one AVMA staff member received awards during the Opening Session July 19 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, an event sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. The recipients are as follows:

  • Dr. Peter F. Haynes, AVMA Award
  • Dr. Jane R. Shaw, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
  • Dr. Theodore B. Robinson, AVMA Meritorious Service Award
  • Dr. Peter Eyre, AVMA President's Award
  • Dr. John L. Noordsy, AVMA President's Award
  • Darlene M. Verbelia, AVMA President's Award

Dr. Shaw (MSU '94) received the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award for her outstanding work in increasing the understanding of, preserving, and protecting human-animal relationships. Dr. Shaw is an assistant professor of veterinary communication and director of the Argus Institute at Colorado State University. She holds a doctorate in epidemiology. Her dissertation involved one of the first scientific studies of veterinarian-client-patient communication. At CSU, she implemented the communication curriculum, focusing on clinical interviewing skills to enhance professional performance through partnership with colleagues and clients.

Dr. Shaw's publications focus on analyzing videotaped conversations and interactions between veterinarians and their clients and patients. She conducts skills-based communication workshops at veterinary conferences and consults with veterinary practices to enhance teamwork, continuity of care, and client service. She serves on the advisory committee for the International Conference on Communication in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Shaw founded Cornell Companions, an animal-assisted activities program.

Dr. Robinson (UP '74) earned the AVMA Meritorious Service Award for contributing to the advancement of veterinary medicine and bringing honor and distinction to the profession through personal and professional activities conducted outside the areas of organized veterinary medicine and research. Dr. Robinson created the Native American Veterinary Services project, which began in 2001 as a one-time, two-day volunteer veterinary clinic on a Navajo reservation and grew into a project that affects thousands of animals and people on four American Indian reservations in the Southwest.

Dr. Robinson established Richboro Veterinary Hospital in Richboro, Pa., in 1976 and Pet Care Plaza in 1985, presenting the latter as a concept at the 1987 AVMA Annual Convention. In 2006 he helped form the Delaware Valley Academy of Veterinary Medicine. He has held offices in the Pennsylvania and Bucks-Mont VMAs. Dr. Robinson currently practices part time and is involved in the PVMA continuing education program.

Three individuals were presented with the AVMA President's Award for making a positive impact on animal, human, or public health; veterinary organizations; and the profession.

Dr. Peter Eyre (EDN '60) received an AVMA President's Award. Dr. Eyre served as dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine from 1985-2003 and was appointed dean emeritus in 2007. He holds a doctorate in pharmacology and has taught the science for nearly 50 years. He has directed the thesis research of 24 students. Dr. Eyre obtained a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts that supported incorporation of an innovative track/concentration in public and corporate veterinary medicine.

Earlier, Dr. Eyre headed the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and was associate director of the Canadian Centre for Toxicology. He was also a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Eyre was president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in 2003, and his leadership positions in the AVMA have included terms on the Council on Governmental Affairs and Legislative Advisory Committee.

Dr. John L. Noordsy (KSU '46) also received an AVMA President's Award. Bovine surgery is the emphasis of this internationally recognized veterinary surgeon. Over the course of his 62-year career, Dr. Noordsy was involved in postgraduate regulatory work, spent 13 years at a rural South Dakota private practice focusing on food animal medicine and surgery, and devoted 30 years to academics at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. At KSU, Dr. Noordsy served as an instructor, progressing to assistant dean and then interim dean.

Active in the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Dr. Noordsy was president in 1979. He was also secretary of the South Dakota VMA. In addition, Dr. Noordsy served 11 years on the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service, including four as chair. He published a widely recognized textbook titled "Food Animal Surgery," the most recent edition in collaboration with his former graduate student Dr. N. Kent Ames.

Darlene M. Verbelia was the third recipient of the AVMA President's Award. As executive assistant to AVMA Executive Vice President W. Ron DeHaven, Verbelia assists him with the administrative duties related to managing the Association and with his duties related to the House of Delegates. Her responsibilities include the production of agendas, minutes, and reports. Verbelia has held this position in the Office of the Executive Vice President for nearly 31 years, assisting four executive vice presidents—Drs. Donald A. Price, Arthur Freeman, A. Roland Dommert, Bruce W. Little, and DeHaven.

In addition to assisting the executive vice president, Verbelia works with the AVMA officers, Executive Board members, and delegates. She is a graduate of the Moser Secretarial School, now part of the Roosevelt University campus system. Before joining the AVMA staff, Verbelia held administrative positions that included The Boeing Company, Walt Disney Productions, and a local investment and real estate firm.

Dr. Miller
Dr. Lila T. Miller
Dr. Barthold
Dr. Stephen W. Barthold
Rear Adm. Stokes
Rear Adm. William S. Stokes


Dr. Capen
Dr. Charles C. Capen
Dr. Daniel E. LaFontaine
Dr. Daniel E. LaFontaine
Sharon M. Hamon
Sharon M. Hamon


Dr. Burrows
Dr. Colin F. Burrows
Dr. Paul Maza
Dr. Paul Maza
Dr. Rossmeisl
Dr. John H. Rossmeisl Jr.

President's Installation Luncheon honors

First on the program at the July 22 President's Installation Luncheon July 22 was the bestowal of nine of the profession's highest honors by 2007-2008 AVMA President Gregory S. Hammer. The sold-out event was held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

The honorees are as follows:

  • Dr. Lila T. Miller, AVMA Animal Welfare Award
  • Dr. Stephen W. Barthold, Charles River Prize
  • Rear Adm. William S. Stokes, Karl F. Meyer—James H. Steele Gold Head Cane Award
  • Dr. Charles C. Capen, AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award (posthumously)
  • Dr. Daniel E. Lafontaine, AVMA Public Service Award
  • Sharon M. Harmon, AVMA Humane Award
  • Dr. Colin F. Burrows, XII International Veterinary Congress Prize
  • Dr. Paul Maza, Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Basic Sciences
  • Dr. John H. Rossmeisl Jr., Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Clinical Sciences

Dr. Lila T. Miller (COR '77) earned the AVMA Animal Welfare Award for her efforts to advance animal well-being, her dedication to animal care, and contributions to her community and society. A shelter medicine pioneer, Dr. Miller is vice president of veterinary outreach for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where she has worked for more than 30 years in the shelter program and as director of the Brooklyn clinic.

Dr. Miller also teaches a shelter medicine course at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She edited the first shelter medicine textbook and co-authored a section on veterinary forensics in the book "Recognizing and Reporting Animal Abuse: A Veterinarian's Guide." Dr. Miller co-founded the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and serves on its board. She is a board member of the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and a member of the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Dr. Stephen W. Barthold (CAL '69) received the Charles River Prize from the Charles River Foundation for distinguished contributions to the field of laboratory animal medicine and science. Dr. Barthold holds the title of distinguished professor of veterinary and medical pathology at the University of California-Davis and directs the UC-Davis Center for Comparative Medicine. His specialty is infectious diseases of laboratory rodents and the biology of laboratory mice.

For more than 30 years, the National Institutes of Health has funded his research, which has a primary focus on Lyme borreliosis. Dr. Barthold chairs the National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Council. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and an honorary diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. His career has included serving in the Army Veterinary Corps at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and as professor of comparative medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.

Rear Adm. William S. Stokes (OSU '79) earned the Karl F. Meyer-James H. Steele Gold Head Cane Award, sponsored by Hartz Mountain Corp., for achievements that have advanced human health through the practice of veterinary epidemiology and public health. Rear Adm. Stokes is assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service. At the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, he directs the National Toxicology Program's Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods. He is a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine.

Currently, Rear Adm. Stokes is a senior health official for federal public health emergency responses for the Department of Health & Human Services. While he was chief veterinary officer for the USPHS, he led and coordinated USPHS veterinary affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and HHS. He also led USPHS veterinary and medical emergency teams in response to hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

The late Dr. Charles C. Capen (WSU '60) was awarded the Lifetime Excellence in Research Award for achievement in veterinary medical research. His widow, Dr. Sharron Martin Capen, accepted the award.

Dr. Capen held the title of distinguished university professor at The Ohio State University. During his career, he made substantial contributions to the fields of endocrinology, toxicology, and veterinary pathology. Considered the world authority on veterinary endocrine pathology, he was renowned for his work in the use of animals to study human diseases. His research provided fundamental knowledge of the function of vitamin D and calcium regulation in diseases.

Dr. Capen was elected to leadership positions with the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, Society of Toxicologic Pathology, Association of Veterinary Pathology Chairpersons in North America, and Society of Toxicology. He served as a consultant to many of the world's top pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Capen died March 1, 2008.

Dr. Daniel E. Lafontaine (OSU '67) took home the AVMA Public Service Award for his outstanding contributions to public health and regulatory veterinary medicine. Dr. Lafontaine is nationally known for his expertise in public health with an emphasis on food safety. He is director of the South Carolina Meat-Poultry Inspection Department, which is consistently recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as one of the best programs in the nation. He is also assistant state veterinarian for South Carolina.

Dr. Lafontaine completed 26 years of active duty in the Army Veterinary Corps, retiring in 1993 as a colonel. He has held leadership roles in the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, Secretary of Agriculture's National Advisory Committee on Meat & Poultry Inspection, and U.S. Animal Health Association's Food Safety Committee. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.

Sharon M. Harmon received the AVMA Humane Award, recognizing humane efforts on behalf of animals and exceptional compassion for animal welfare. Harmon is executive director of the Oregon Humane Society, where adoption rates have risen under her leadership to be among the highest in the nation. OHS programs are used as benchmarks by organizations across the country. Harmon's efforts have resulted in Oregon having some of the nation's toughest animal cruelty laws.

Harmon has been in animal sheltering work for more than 28 years. Her most recent accomplishment is establishment of the Animal Medical and Learning Center, a partnership in which the teaching hospital at the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine is connected to the OHS animal shelter, and 24-hour veterinary care is provided. This partnership serves as a national model for providing medical care for shelter pets and at the same time, experience for veterinary students.

Dr. Colin F. Burrows (LON '69) was the recipient of the XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize for his contributions to the international understanding of veterinary medicine. Dr. Burrows is passionate about education not only for veterinary students but also for veterinary practitioners, particularly those in developing countries. An honorary member of the Austrian and Russian small animal veterinary associations, Dr. Burrows has delivered continuing education presentations in more than 50 countries. Currently he is executive director of the North American Veterinary Conference, and since 1984 he has served as NAVC coordinator.

Dr. Burrows is a professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, where he specializes in the study of canine and feline gastrointestinal, hepatic, and pancreatic disease. He holds a doctorate in comparative medical sciences and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Paul Maza (ROS '95) received the Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Basic Sciences. Since 2000, Dr. Maza has been an anatomy lecturer at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He teaches with a team of instructors in a problem-based learning course on gross, microscopic, developmental, and radiographic anatomy. He leads a distribution course in feline gross anatomy and tutors in the problem-based physiology course.

At the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, Dr. Maza is a consultant for students in the Community Practice Service and the Feline Health Center. Dr. Maza serves as a mentor to students and values the mentorship of his colleagues in his own teaching and other professional endeavors. From 1997-2000, he was a small animal practitioner with Monroe Veterinary Associates in Rochester, N.Y. His wife, Dr. Jennifer Kraft-Maza, operates a small animal house call practice.

Dr. John H. Rossmeisl Jr. (AUB '97) was awarded the Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award—Clinical Sciences. Since 2003, Dr. Rossmeisl has been an assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to that, he completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Purdue University and residency programs in small animal internal medicine and neurology.

Dr. Rossmeisl's research interests are vascular biology and tumor angiogenesis, primary brain neoplasms, traumatic brain injury, and endocrinology. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, where he is board-certified in the Specialty of Neurology and the Specialty of Small Animal Internal Medicine. Dr. Rossmeisl is an active member of the Virginia VMA, American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, and Society of Phi Zeta.