Purdue’s Dr. Willie Reed named AVMA’s first Frederick Douglass Patterson Award winner

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Veterinary Dean receives inaugural award for lifetime contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion

(DENVER, Colorado) July 14, 2023—Dr. Willie M. Reed, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, today was named the inaugural recipient of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished leadership in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the veterinary profession.

Dr. Reed’s selection was made by the AVMA Board of Directors and the award was presented at the organization’s annual Convention, held this year in Denver.

“Much like Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson, your steadfast commitment has allowed you to bring about meaningful change and establish a strong foundation for DEI at Purdue University and in the profession,” Dr. Janet Donlin, the AVMA’s Executive Vice President and CEO, wrote to Dr. Reed informing him of the award. “Your innovative mindset and visionary leadership have propelled veterinary medicine forward in the realm of DEI.”

Dr. Willie Reed's acceptance speech

When the AVMA announced the establishment of the new honor and invited nominations last April, AVMA President Dr. Lori Teller noted: “We want to recognize member veterinarians who have made significant contributions to the veterinary profession through advancing DEI. There is no better way to do this than by bestowing an annual award named after Dr. Patterson, who was such a visionary leader.”

After earning his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees at Tuskegee University, Dr. Reed pursued a PhD in veterinary pathology at Purdue, which he received in 1982. He then joined the Purdue veterinary faculty, serving as associate professor of avian pathology and as chief of avian disease diagnostic services in the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. In 1990, he moved to Michigan State University to become a full professor and director of the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (now called the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory). Later, he was named chairperson of the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation at MSU.

In 2007, Dr. Reed returned to Purdue as Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Among his many achievements at Purdue, he modernized teaching, clinical and research facilities, expanded the class size by 20 percent, and significantly increased the diversity of the student body, while recruiting outstanding faculty in a wide range of disciplines from around the globe.

Under Dr. Reed’s leadership, the CVM has received the national Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine four times (2017, 2020, 2021, 2022). In 2021, the college was further honored with the Diversity Champion Award – the first time the publication named a veterinary college as a Diversity Champion, for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diversity Champions are typically institutions known for visionary leadership, that serve as role models and set the standard for thousands of other college campuses striving for inclusive excellence. These institutions are recognized for exemplifying an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels.

Among his many honors, Dr. Reed received a 2018 Doctor of Science honoris causa from Royal Veterinary College, University of London, “For his powerful advocacy on behalf of groups underrepresented in veterinary medicine and for his leadership in veterinary medical education and research.”

Frederick Douglass Patterson (1901-1988) received his DVM degree in 1923 from Iowa State University and a PhD in 1931 from Cornell University. He became President of the Tuskegee Institute and oversaw its development into Tuskegee University. While President, Dr. Patterson founded both the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in 1944.

For more information about the AVMA’s DEI initiatives, please visit www.journeyforteams.org and www.avma.org/diversity.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.