College officials lobby Congress for veterinary public health law

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Dr. Heider
Dr. Lawrence E. Heider

As part of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' annual meeting, held March 11-14 in Washington, D.C., officials from the U.S. veterinary colleges lobbied Congress to pass legislation increasing the number of public health veterinarians.

The Veterinary Public Health Workforce and Education Act would establish a competitive, multimillion-dollar grant program for veterinary colleges and other institutions offering graduate training in veterinary public health.

Recent steep state budget cuts have further strained the nation's veterinary schools' and colleges' ability to meet societal demands. The AAVMC estimates that $45 million to $50 million in public support has been lost by the nation's 28 veterinary institutions during the past two years.

"State budget shortfalls are resulting in major cuts for veterinary medical colleges, and our message to Congress is that if we are to expand these schools to meet societal needs, we need help," said Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, AAVMC executive director.

If enacted into law, the Veterinary Public Health Workforce and Education Act would create a competitive grant program for schools of veterinary medicine, programs to support faculty recruitment and retention, a rotating fellowship program within the Department of Health and Human Services, and a Division of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health at the Health Resources and Services Administration of the HHS.

The bill, H.R. 2999, currently has the support of 24 House members.

Patricia M. Lowrie, director of the Women's Resource Center and assistant to the dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, delivered the association's 2010 Recognition Lecture. The lecturer is chosen annually by the AAVMC president and is an individual whose leadership and vision have made an important contribution to academic veterinary medicine and the veterinary profession. Lowrie spoke about her experiences during the past 30 years in working on diversity issues in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Lawrence E. Heider, professor emeritus of The Ohio State University, dean emeritus of the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island, and former AAVMC executive director, received the 2010 Senator John Melcher, DVM, Leadership in Public Policy Award for his efforts in legislative advocacy on behalf of academic veterinary medicine.

Among his many distinctions, Dr. Heider, a 1964 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, was interim CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues from 2007-2008.

Dr. Larry G. Adams of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine received the 2009 national Pfizer Teaching Award, the most prestigious teaching award in veterinary medicine in the United States (see JAVMA, April 1, 2010).