Friends, colleagues bid Hoffsis farewell at retirement reception

Dean Hoffsis with newly unveiled portrait.

Dean Glen Hoffsis with newly unveiled portrait. (Photo by Diana Andersen-Davis)

By Sarah Carey

With friends, family and colleagues from near and far present to wish him well, Dr. Glen Hoffsis, who has served the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine as dean for seven years, said he and his wife, Lana, came to Gainesville in 2006 knowing almost no one, but are leaving with friends and relationships they will always treasure.

“Someone once said that life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away,” Hoffsis said at the conclusion of a reception held June 1 at the UF Small Animal Hospital to honor him on the eve of his upcoming retirement.

He said he and his wife had experienced many such moments during their time at UF.

“I am going to miss all the action, but even more, I will miss the people here and those who aren’t here, and the great friendships and relationships we formed,” he said. “Thanks to all of you for contributing to our success.”

Hoffsis will be moving back to Ohio, where he grew up and spent his entire professional life prior to moving to Gainesville. Hoffsis served for 11 years as dean at the Ohio State University, his alma mater, two years prior to arriving at UF in 2006.

Many who offered tributes of appreciation joked that he finally will no longer have to split his loyalties. Yet, “He’ll always be a Gator,” said UF President Bernie Machen.

Briefly following up the dean’s remarks, Dr. John Harvey, the college’s executive associate dean, and emcee, joked, “one of the fun things I thought I’d get to do is what I do for my daughter in Colorado in the dead of winter when it’s in the minuses there, I’ll just send her a text saying ‘it’s 84 degrees here.’ But Glen is keeping his place in Bonita Springs, so he’ll probably be here in the winter and that’ll take away the fun.”

Several of Hoffsis’ Ohio relatives, including his sons, Chris and Brian, who live in Columbus, and his brother, Larry, who lives in Dayton, traveled to Gainesville for the occasion.

Acknowledging his sons’ presence, Hoffsis noted, “Their wives are not here because they are both pregnant, so between two of them, we will have three new babies in July.”

“I finally figured out what was going on here,” he quipped. “They said, ‘Grandma and Grandpa will be coming back and have time for grandchildren, so let’s get busy.’

Reflecting back on his time in Gainesville, Hoffsis said when he first arrived at UF, he asked himself what he could do to advance the college.

“Along the way, we built some buildings, developed some programs and raised some money,” he said, giving a shout-out to Karen Legato, senior director of development and alumni affairs, and her team for raising $54 million for the recently-concluded UF Campaign.

“This year we are closing in on the largest-ever gift for our college, which will mean we are close to exceeding $20 million — for one year,” Hoffsis said. “For all of you that are out there and have made those contributions, know you are not alone in your support of this place.”

He said he understands from recent articles in the press that “we’re moving into better budget times,” and that the state’s economy is rapidly recovering for the first time since it crashed in 2006.

“Guess when I came,” he said. “I got here just in time for the big crash and got the college through that recession. We have a new dean coming and there are many things we were unable to get to that we will pass on to him. I am very confident we will one day be one of the most distinctive veterinary colleges in the country.”

Among other distinguished guests at the event were U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho, a veterinarian and UF CVM alumnus, with whom Hoffsis has developed a friendship; members of the Florida Veterinary Medical Association; several donors whose contributions helped lift the college well beyond its recent Campaign fundraising goals; and representatives of national and state veterinary groups.

Harvey and other speakers, including Dr. Jack Payne, vice president of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and UF President Bernie Machen, acknowledged Hoffsis’ key achievements during his time at UF, including his role in the creation of the new Small Animal Hospital with its focus on service, veterinarian and patient-centered care, expanded enrollment opportunities for students, a new auditorium and educational center and the opening of a pet emergency clinic in Ocala.

Payne extended regrets on behalf of Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president, UF and Shands Health System, who was unable to attend the event due to a family conflict.

“Since my tenure at IFAS, I have appreciated Glen’s regular involvement and support of the programs that support IFAS and the vet school,” Payne said, alluding to many such programs, such as extension, the Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Service, the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Program and the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology.

As a thank you for Hoffsis’ contributions, Payne presented him with a Gator thermometer, “so that he could look at it and think of us basking in the sunshine,” as well as with a golden Gator statue on a wooden base for his desk.

Hoffsis’ official portrait was also unveiled during the event.

“I really want to say how lucky we have been to have Glen and Lana here for these past years,” said Machen. “I think the College of Veterinary Medicine is in the middle of a transition, as the University of Florida has the audacity to believe that we are one of top universities in the country. We believe having this college on this campus gives us a strategic advantage as we compete against other universities to be one of the top 10 universities in the public sector.”

Machen, whose daughter, Maggie, graduated from the UF veterinary college in 2009, said the college was “one of the reasons I feel we have a good chance to do that.”

“With a soft hand, Glen has helped the college adjust to changes that are hard to take,” Machen said. “Many have had a hard time accepting that we are moving in a transitional time. Chris and I have become special friends to this college and we believe its future is incredibly bright.”

Former UF veterinary college administrator Courtney, who retired in 2012, presented Hoffsis with a “secret award” he’d been planning since last summer — a work bench made of wormy hickory. The bench was made of wood milled from a tree that fell during a storm in the yard of Dr. Pam Ginn, the college’s associate dean for students and instruction.

Courtney said the gift that was in response to a comment Hoffsis made a year ago when someone asked him what he planned to do when he retired.

Said Hoffsis a few minutes later, “I love that piece of hickory, Charlie, but if you think it’s going to turn me into a woodworker, don’t hold your breath,” he said.




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June 2013

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Friends, colleagues bid Hoffsis farewell at retirement reception

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