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Dean Smith, at his final hooding, calls Class of 2007
'one of the best, if not the best' he has ever seen

hooding ceremony 2007 The 81 newest Cornell-minted doctors of veterinary medicine will see their field change rapidly in the coming years, said Veterinary College Dean Donald Smith in his final address to the Class of 2007 on May 26.

But this particular class -- what he described as one of excellence, creativity, collaboration, commitment and integrity -- is clearly up to the challenge, said Smith.

"I truly believe this is one of the best, if not the best class I have seen," he said. "They have demonstrated excellence in Cornell terms -- consistently having the passion to add value through their accomplishments ... [as well as] the openness to respect new ideas, the inner confidence needed to be willing to look outward ... and the moral solidness to draw resolve from principle."

Smith bestowed the ceremonial hoods on the graduates, who will receive their degrees during commencement on Sunday, May 27. Then they will head off to the next step in their varied careers: internships with small animal clinics or with dairy herds; careers in equine practice, wildlife management or military service.

hooding ceremony 2007 Smith predicted that increasing government regulation, corporate takeovers, public resistance to high veterinary office prices and a growing gender imbalance in favor of women could prove major hurdles for the profession. He called on the graduates to stay passionate, to embrace new ideas and to draw strength from mentors.

"We're graduating together," added Smith, who will hand over the deanship to biomedical sciences professor Michael Kotlikoff in July after 10 years in the position.

For Sara Hodgdon, who will leave Cornell for an equine internship, memories of vet school will be about the camaraderie, the supportive faculty and the exceptional teachers. "It's been a lot more than I could have asked for," she said.

And before the newly hooded veterinarians filed offstage, one of those teachers -- Jay Harvey, associate professor of clinical sciences and the Carl Norton Distinguished teacher of 2007 -- offered a few words of advice.

"Remember the value of the basics," he told the graduates. "Remember that for every animal there is a person who is emotionally, financially or philosophically attached. Remember that there is more to caregiving than just the science."

He added: "Be good. Do good. Be happy. Make others happy. That's the core of our profession.

"And lastly: after you graduate -- please, please, please send us money."

-- By Lauren Gold