|Volume 21, Number 2||Fall, 1994|
The 13th Symposium on Veterinary Medical Education was planned to address the issue of post-DVM education. As the Program Committee debated this issue and how broadly it should be covered, it became evident that we needed to recognize some trends in post-DVM education. Aside from some of the more long-standing issues such as quality assurance and recruitment and funding, the relatively new phenomenon of certificate programs clearly needed to be discussed. The role of regionalization or interinstitutional consortia has also grown rapidly under the stimulus of the Pew initiative. The recent document from the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA, 201:544-546, 1992) had raised issues about the quality of the training in research methodology among individuals entering clinical sciences departments. Thus, the role of advanced degree/research training in conjunction with or sequential to residency training needed to be addressed. Finally, some of the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs had put forward a suggestion that faculty mentoring needed to be given some specific attention if we were to address the continuum of education and training that would lead from the professional degree to a successful academician. While their focus had been more properly in relation to teaching skills, the Program Committee felt that the mentoring issue was important across the whole spectrum of faculty activity including teaching, research and service.
In order to provide an adequate background for the meeting, the Committee commissioned a survey that would focus on veterinarians who had one or more types of post-DVM education or training as career preparation. Aside from the typical issues of job satisfaction, income, etc., the Committee was interested in why individuals decided to enter such training programs; how they viewed their programs in a retrospective manner; and how important their training actually was to their current career activities. Dr. Karl Wise of the AVMA Center for Information Management agreed to undertake the survey with questionnaire development jointly shared with the Program Committee. The Program Committee acknowledges the additional support from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges which enabled us to undertake this survey. The Executive Summary of the survey results are presented as the opening section of the Proceedings of the Symposium and served as an important information resource to participants at the Symposium. The Symposium, "Designing a Template for Graduate Education in the 21st Century," was planned to be an active, working meeting, with the primary focus on the workshop groups which considered the 6 assigned topics.
Symposium Program Committee: Edward R. Ames, Richard E. Dierks, Billy Hooper, Harley Moon, Lance Perryman, Keith Prasse, James Ross, John Welser, William C. Wagner (Chair)
Larry Faulkner, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dr. Victor E. (Ted) Valli, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, welcomed the group and introduced Dr. Larry Faulkner, Vice Chancellor and Provost.
Thank you, Ted. I, too, would like to welcome all of you to the University of Illinois. Ted contacted me some months ago about whether I would be able to be with you this morning and I was told that it would be at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning. I informed him that I was unaware that there was an eight o'clock on Saturday morning. But apparently there is. This large group of enthusiastic and shining faces testifies to your own sense of the importance of your efforts. We are pleased to be serving as the host institution for this meeting. I hope that you are going to enjoy your stay and this weather which Bill Wagner took credit for. I was wondering where it had been coming from!
The University of Illinois is the land-grant institution in the State of Illinois and we never lose sight of the importance of that fact. We are proud of what the College of Veterinary Medicine has accomplished here and the role that it plays in the land-grant mission of our university. It serves the animal- owning public of the state, which is a sizable public, and provides research and service activities in support of the animal agricultural industry in Illinois. Illinois is one of the leading states for export of agricultural commodities, and our Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture are vital parts of that productivity.
Of the many topics which you will be considering during this meeting, I am impressed by several issues which are broadly applicable to most of the programs within the university. They include the mentoring of junior faculty and the recruitment and funding of graduate trainees. Quality assurance of advanced training programs is an important topic for all universities, not just this university, and I look forward to hearing about the outcome of your deliberations.
Actually, I think many of the things that you will be addressing are the result of the stresses created by the growth of knowledge. Much of the stress on universities everywhere has that same origin. I brought a couple of props to illustrate this point and to help send you off on your deliberations. Now, Ted didn't tell you that I am a chemist. I think probably everyone here was forced to take chemistry in one form or another and I brought a couple of textbooks from that field just to illustrate my point. This textbook I have here is Sienko and Plane. There are probably people here in this audience who are as old as I am and who took chemistry from Sienko and Plane. It was a very popular book. I had this book in my general chemistry course in 1962 when I entered Southern Methodist University. It was the dominant book in the field and it encapsulated what people thought needed to be learned by freshman chemistry students. In contrast, in 1989 my son entered the University of Illinois as a chemistry major and for his first chemistry course this was his book; in fact it was one of two books of the same size that he used in his course. All of us as faculty members, with some justification, feel that we have to teach our students everything we learned plus whatever has happened in the interim, (and for some of us the interim is getting longer every day). But there is a lot, in any technical field, veterinary medicine included, that happens in even a short period--one decade or even two--certainly three decades, and somehow integrating all of those new events into a reasonable educational experience is an enormous challenge.
I was privileged to briefly read some of the summary comments that will be presented later on by your panelists. You will be challenged to consider issues such as the ones I have raised, but there are others, such as the role of the private sector in providing part of the training for clinical specialists, as well as the opportunities for veterinarians in modern, highly integrated animal production settings, and the need for additional skills such as human resources management, economics and information management. Your panelists appear to have provided you with a challenging and provocative list of thoughts and proposals for workshops to consider. I note, for instance, that you are addressing the difficult problem of how the professional graduate program can most effectively interweave and combine discipline training with a solid basis for a career in scholarly investigations. This matter is of particular concern considering the very long training period of professional students which precedes the building of scholarly skills in research, as compared with the more traditional bachelors program, which serves as the underpinning for the masters and doctoral programs. As a land-grant university we are also interested in how the tripartite mission of teaching, research and service can be most effectively delivered in the climate that we now exist in. I am pleased to see that you are considering ways of making those missions more complementary, rather than competing for faculty time.
Finally, I note that one of your panelists stressed the importance of a strong basis in ethics and the role of ethical conduct in scientific research as an essential part of research training programs. This is an important and very timely issue. Here at the University of Illinois, we expect that ethics and a firm understanding of scientific misconduct will be an integral part of all of our graduate programs.
In the years that I have been on this campus, which is now a total of 21, I have come to know most parts of it to a greater or lesser degree. I have always been impressed by the instincts and motivations that underlie veterinary medicine, which is not classified as a humanity, but in many ways is one of the most humane activities that scholars can engage in, for it addresses a very well-motivated stewardship to the lesser species in this world. I thank you for the contributions that you are making to the improvement of veterinary medical education in the course of the conference that you will be undertaking today. I wish you a very successful experience.