Students make changes with eye to the future

SAVMA overhauls its bylaws, committees
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Most of the hundreds of students at the AVMA Annual Convention attended lectures and toured the exhibit hall. And of those, more than 70 met for the biannual Student AVMA House of Delegates meeting Aug. 1-2.

SAVMA House of Delegates
The SAVMA House of Delegates consists of two representatives—a senior and a junior delegate—from each U.S. veterinary school and college, along with Ross University, St. George's University, and St. Matthew's University.

Every U.S. veterinary school and college—along with Ross University, St. George's University, and St. Matthew's University—sent delegates to Atlanta to discuss topics that ranged from bylaws changes to long-term goals of the organization to budget-cutting measures.

Sizing things up

A major goal of the SAVMA Executive Board was to streamline business to protect the future of the organization. Prior to the meeting, the SAVMA Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee evaluated the results of a member-wide survey on the value of the student association's programs. Plus, it analyzed the current activities and purposes of committees within the SAVMA HOD.

The SAVMA delegates then voted to combine standing committees with similar charges after taking into consideration the ad hoc committee's suggestions. The argument for merging 10 committees into seven was to decrease the total number of committees and create greater efficiency in carrying out goals.

Aaron Gibbons
SAVMA President Aaron Gibbons (WSU '11) presides over the meeting and keeps business on track in his first official meeting as president.

Specifically, the move enhances the focus of the committees on the issues of debt education, diversity, communication among students and with the AVMA, and animal welfare education.

Another temporary entity—the Governance Documents Review Ad Hoc Committee, which consists of SAVMA Executive Board members—had been working on rewriting the SAVMA Bylaws before the meeting and had completed an analysis of SAVMA's governing documents. Major changes were proposed to the committee descriptions, SAVMA's mission statement, the position descriptions for the SAVMA Executive Board, and a change to the board's name, which was formerly known as the Executive Committee. Care was taken with wording so that the document could stand for many years without the need for change.

The SAVMA HOD voted to approve the new bylaws and dissolve the previous SAVMA Constitution, resulting in a more comprehensive set of governance documents that are expected to endure to the next generation of student leaders. 

Balancing act

SAVMA delegates and Executive Board members made a concerted effort to balance the student association's budget for the upcoming year. Cost reductions were implemented in the areas of conference call fees, printing and shipping costs, and technology purchases. With these savings, committees were able to reallocate funds toward scholarships, educational grants, and travel stipends for members.

Jennifer Lu
SAVMA Secretary Jennifer Lu (OKL '11) addresses the SAVMA HOD, which met during the AVMA Annual Convention.

The student association used its working budget to send delegates as liaisons to various meetings this past year, including AVMA committee meetings and meetings of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium and the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues.

Doing so has allowed SAVMA to maintain a student voice within the larger veterinary community and be involved with decisions that will affect students' soon-to-be careers.

Hello and goodbye

Dr. Gary S. Brown finished his term as AVMA vice president at the meeting. He has worked with the SAVMA Executive Board and delegates for the past two years, serving as a liaison between students and the AVMA. In this capacity, Dr. Brown traveled to all 31 veterinary schools and colleges represented in the SAVMA HOD and participated in monthly SAVMA Executive Board conference calls.

Reflecting on his time in this position, Dr. Brown said, "There are a lot of people working for (the students). I'm going to miss you. Enjoy your lives; I can't wait to see what you do with them."

At the conclusion of the SAVMA HOD meeting, Dr. Jan K. Strother was welcomed to her new position as AVMA vice president. She will serve as the AVMA Executive Board liaison to the students through 2012.

The House was also visited by Dr. René Carlson, incoming AVMA president-elect. Dr. Carlson was involved with SAVMA as AVMA vice president and spoke of her desire to continue to involve students in discussions about the profession.

"What has kept me most excited (about the profession) is the ability to stay involved in organized veterinary medicine," she said. "We can all work to make this a more vibrant profession."

Other speakers invited to address the SAVMA House included Drs. Linda Workman of VetPartners; David E. Granstrom, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division; and Cia Johnson, assistant director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division.

Something old, something new

Newly elected SAVMA Executive Board members are Jennifer Linton (UP '12), secretary-elect; Jessica Trichel (LSU '12), information technology officer-elect; Dan Tappmeyer (MO '13), treasurer-elect; and Ashley Smit (KSU '12), The Vet Gazette Editor-elect.;

Current members who will continue their service until SAVMA Symposium 2011 at the University of California-Davis are Aaron Gibbons (WSU '11), president; Joseph Esch (OSU '12), president-elect; Jennifer Lu (OKL '11), secretary; Brian Zulauf (ORS '11), treasurer; Garrett Stewart (KSU '11), information technology officer; Deirdre Murdy (WES '11), international exchange officer; Robin Hansen (IL '11), The Vet Gazette editor; Chris Koivisto (NCU '11), global and public health officer; Rayne Johnson (PUR '12), international exchange officer-elect; and Claire McPhee (NCU '12), global and public health officer-elect