Treasurer: Passion is essence of profession

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Delivering his final financial report to the House of Delegates July 14 in St. Louis, AVMA Treasurer Bret D. Marsh of Indianapolis was at times reflective. "We are here to serve for only a short time and then we hand on the profession, better than we found it," he said.

The treasurer has steered the Association through the recession's hurdles during the last several of his six yearlong terms and leaves the office at a time of AVMA financial upswing. His successor is Dr. Barbara A. Schmidt, Union, Ky. (see JAVMA, Jan. 15, 2011).

Dr. Marsh reported that at the end of June, the AVMA listed investments of $30.1 million—up $7.8 million compared with a year ago. Cash and government funds were $7.2 million, receivables were $530,000, and prepaid expenses were $192,000.

Dr. Marsh
Dr. Bret D. Marsh presents his final treasurer's report to the House of Delegates. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

At the end of fiscal year 2011 (the calendar year), the reserves are projected to be $25.7 million, which is about 87 percent of the annual operating expenses.

Last year's belt tightening and better than expected returns on investments resulted in a $3.1 million surplus at the end of FY 2010. The surplus was used to restore the reserves. Currently, the FY 2011 projection is a surplus of $1.7 million from an income projected to be $31.2 million.

Turning to the 2012 budget, Treasurer Marsh said, "Of the budgets I have presented to you over the years, I like this one the best."

The 2012 budget projects year-end income of $29.9 million and income over expenses of $63,814. That includes $454,800 for AVMA program funding from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Beginning with 2012, the AVMA operating budget no longer includes long-term investment gains or losses.

When he was first elected treasurer, Dr. Marsh and other new volunteer leaders were asked at an orientation program how they got here. He said it seems appropriate for the AVMA to answer the same question: AVMA, how did you get here?

He said part of the answer can be found at AVMA headquarters in the portrait gallery of AVMA past presidents dating back to 1863.

"These portraits ... are the face of all of the members of this Association at that specific point in time," he said. "The decisions that were made over the decades ... are the foundation upon which we stand, and those decisions have been as pivotal to the success of the profession as any advancement of science."

Likewise, he said the portraits of AVMA executive vice presidents represent the collective talent and contributions of AVMA staff.

Dr. Marsh believes that a less tangible part of the answer has sustained the AVMA. "Simply put, we love this profession. … I have seen this passion demonstrated over and over through countless acts of selfless service to the AVMA," he said.

"We must keep the passion. This passion is the very essence of our profession."

AVMA Assets, Liabilities, and Fund Balance (2001-2011)

Bar chart: AVMA Assets, Liabilities, and Fund Balance (2001-2011)