Dr. Dana Zimmel

Dr. Dana Zimmel

Greetings all,

As we head toward the end of the spring semester and academic transitions, it’s refreshing to be able to share several positive updates with you all, particularly in light of the past year and everything we have collectively been through in the process of navigating the pandemic.

First, I’d like to say how proud I am of everyone from the college who has recently participated in the massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign that began April 5 at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Champion’s Club as part of an ongoing collaboration between UF Health and county health officials. We have sent out information about how to volunteer, and you can still sign up.

I know many of you have stepped up to the plate to fill a variety of volunteer roles. All assistance in this ambitious effort, which aimed to and surpassed its goal of vaccinating up to 20,000 people in the first week alone, is greatly appreciated and important. No matter what your role might be — whether you are directing people to where they need to be, checking people in or providing vaccinations — you are helping to make the community safer. We have a story about our participation in this issue.

At the end of this month, our graduate students receiving Ph.D. and M.S. degrees will again experience commencement in person as part of campuswide ceremonies. I know their future is bright, and that the impact they will make on animal, human and environmental health through discoveries and the advancement of biomedical research is great. We’re so proud of them.

We are looking forward to holding both our sophomore coating ceremony on May 13 and D.V.M. commencement on May 29 in person again this year at the Phillips Center and the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, respectively, with health and safety guidelines in place. In addition to being established events at the college and part of our great traditions, both of these events are always especially moving to me. They remind me of my own experience in completing the D.V.M. program here in 1995, and how immensely gratified — and relieved— I felt at the time, knowing I’d made it through those four tough years. Those who taught and mentored me in those years will never fully understand the lasting impact they had on my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of those mentors and how they helped to mold my life and career, and how so many of the lessons I learned from them endure today.

In administrative news, we have narrowed the search for a permanent associate dean for academic and student affairs and will be conducting final interviews in late May. We also recently concluded a search for a newly created position of assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion, and I am very happy to say that Dr. Michael Bowie, a clinical assistant professor who has served as director of community engagement and diversity outreach at our college since 2018, has accepted the position and began his new role on May 1.

We have begun a national search for a new department chair for our department of large animal clinical sciences, following Dr. Guy Lester’s resignation. We will greatly miss Dr. Lester, who decided to return to Australia to be closer to his family, from which he had endured a long separation due to the pandemic. We are grateful for his leadership in the time he was able to be with us, and wish him all the best. Dr. David Freeman has agreed to serve as interim chair of LACS while we search for Dr. Lester’s permanent replacement.

Finally, the past couple of months have been very dark in the national veterinary community with the loss of several of our colleagues in practice and in academia due to suicide. As most of you are probably aware, the suicide rate in the veterinary profession is higher than in any other health-related field, and these recent losses are a devastating reminder of that fact. Many of you who are on social media may have seen posts with the letters NOMV, which stands for Not One More Vet, go viral in early March.  NOMV is the largest veterinary support group in the world, with more than 28,000 members worldwide providing peer-to-peer mental health support and suicide awareness, and the collective sharing that has taken place has only highlighted how much work we have to do within the profession and within our own community to encourage wellness and to provide support, however possible, to those who need it.

At UFCVM, we understand that the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of our employees and students are essential to our success and sustainability. Starting last month, we began a pilot program, Listeners on Call, which offers 24-hour telephone support with listeners standing by every day, at any time, to lend an ear. The connection is completely anonymous, private and confidential. At this time, we are offering this program for free to students and house officers, with hopes of expanding it to other groups in the future. Information about the program has been circulated to those who have access now, and I would like to personally encourage any student or house officer who is struggling, for whatever reason, to take advantage of this program. There is no need to suffer in silence. Should you need to, please reach out.

Thank you for everything you are doing. I appreciate you all more than I can say.

Dana N. Zimmel, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP
Professor and Interim Dean

Share this article with others:
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Twitter

March-April 2021

Dr. Dana Zimmel

A message from our interim dean

A message from our interim dean, Dr. Dana Zimmel.

Rachel outside clinic

College volunteers participate in massive UF vaccination campaign

Faculty, staff and students from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine joined their counterparts from other UF Health colleges in the effort.

Surgical oncology team

Featured video: Surgical oncology at the UF Veterinary Hospitals

New video highlights the work of UF’s veterinary surgical oncology team.

Dr. Dinglasan

Professor receives $6 million to begin clinical trial to test new malaria vaccine

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan was awarded $6 million on March 31 by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund to test a new malaria vaccine in people.

...also in this issue



Around the College