2013 Distinguished Award winners named


Dana Zimmel

Dr. Dana Zimmel

A UF hospital administrator, a couple whose efforts have enhanced shelter medicine, a former veterinary dermatology professor, a pet-hospice entrepreneur and a small animal practitioner have received the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s 2013 Distinguished Awards.

The program was established in 2000 as a way to recognize outstanding alumni, faculty and friends of the college. Award categories are Alumni Achievement, Distinguished Service, Special Service and Outstanding Young Alumni.

Dr. Dana Zimmel, (UFCVM ’95) won the Alumni Achievement Award. Criteria for this award include demonstration of outstanding personal or professional contributions and providing a positive example through professional achievements in veterinary science or one of its branches, service to the community and the advancement of human welfare, and/or outstanding service to the UF veterinary college.

Board-certified in both large animal internal medicine and equine practice, Zimmel has meaningfully contributed to those fields and to practice management of academic veterinary hospitals. She joined UF’s faculty in 2002, working first in extension, then large animal medicine and later progressing into leadership roles. In 2010, she assumed the newly created position of chief of staff of the UF Veterinary Hospitals. Under her leadership, caseload and general revenue are up in both hospitals.

In 2012, Zimmel, an associate clinical professor, also spearheaded the opening of a new after-hours pet emergency clinic in Ocala, Fla.

Drs. Lisa and Vincent Centonze.

Drs. Lisa and Vincent Centonze

Drs. Lisa and Vincent Centonze (both from UFCVM ’03),  who are married, received the Distinguished Service Award. Recipients of this award must hold a D.V.M. or Ph.D. and must demonstrate meritorious service to the profession of veterinary medicine through personal activities and professional accomplishments. Nominated jointly, both Centonzes had careers prior to veterinary school — Lisa in the Peace Corps and Vince in the United States Air Force.

In the past decade, both have worked in private practice in the Tampa area, in shelters and at Hillsborough Community College. Lisa was the shelter veterinarian at Hillsborough County Animal Services before becoming Hernando County Animal Services’ first full-time managing veterinarian in January. She is an adjunct instructor at HCC’s veterinary technical program, which Vince has directed since 2007. Under his leadership, the program has become accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and has strengthened its ties with the local shelter. The HCC veterinary technology program also provides a shadowing program at the UF Veterinary Hospitals. The Centonzes have remained active in UF activities as members of the Alumni Council and admissions committee.

Dr. Gail Kunkle

Dr. Gail Kunkle

Dr. Gail Kunkle, who served on the UF faculty for almost 30 years before retiring in 2008, received the Special Service Award. Recipients of this award must have demonstrated outstanding service to the college and must have made contributions demonstrating that he or she has positively impacted the college in one or more of its key roles in teaching, research, extension and patient care.

Kunkle, a professor emeritus of veterinary dermatology, received her veterinary degree from Ohio State University and was the first woman to become board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. In addition to her clinical and research contributions at UF, which have been recognized nationally and internationally, Kunkle built an educational database to assist college faculty in accessing data considered critical during the process known as curriculum review. This process takes place prior to national accreditation site visits, which take place every seven years among veterinary colleges nationwide.

While at UF, Kunkle held numerous leadership positions both campuswide and nationally. She also mentored faculty and residents in the area of veterinary dermatology and dermatopathology.

Dr. Dani McVety

Dr. Dani McVety

There were two winners in the Outstanding Young Alumni Award category — Dani McVety, D.V.M., and Destiny Prezzano, D.V.M. Recipients of this award must have graduated from the college within the past 10 years and must have achieved personal or professional accomplishments that positively reflect upon the college.


Now the owner and medical director of Apalachee River Animal Hospital in Dacula, Ga., Prezzano was president of her class while in veterinary school. She has served actively on multiple college committees, and led the Alumni Council as president, helping to launch a mentoring program for young alumni.

Dr. Destiny Prezzano

Dr. Destiny Prezzano

Through the program, young alumni and soon-to-be-graduates can be matched with a senior practitioner and fellow UF graduate, who can provide mentorship relating to workplace problems, balancing family and career, and new career directions.

McVety was an entrepreneur from an early age. While a student, she was profiled in DVM Newsmagazine for her senior research project, a survey testing the knowledge of business concepts among veterinary students nationwide.

Soon after graduating from veterinary school, McVety founded Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, a network of veterinarians dedicated solely to end-of-life veterinary care. In two years, the company grew from one veterinarian in Tampa, Fla. to more than 50 veterinarians around the United States.

The awards will be presented on May 25 at the UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts during college commencement exercises.


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May 2013

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