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The nation's top veterinary college gets ready for new leadership
Donald F. Smith, the 9th dean of Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, will step down in 2007

FOR RELEASE: Apr. 7, 2006

ITHACA, N.Y. - Cornell University has announced that Dr. Donald F. Smith, the university's Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, will pass his leadership on to a successor at the end of his second term, concluding his successful 10-year deanship in June 2007. Smith, who was appointed by Cornell President Hunter Rawlings in April 1997, is a member of the National Academy of Practices and the first board-certified clinician to serve as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Dean Smith's tireless leadership and devotion to his profession have been the forces behind the impressive achievements of the Cornell Veterinary College," said Rawlings. "Because of Dean Smith's vision and foresight, the college has maintained its traditions and high standards while undergoing an innovative reorganization that has enhanced its academic departments and the programs offered to students. We look forward to building on Dean Smith's legacy as we prepare for the upcoming transition."

From the start of his deanship, Smith set the course for Cornell's pioneering efforts in biomedical research by establishing three emerging academic priorities in his first year. These initiatives encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration on campus, while promoting clinical and diagnostic sciences in infectious disease; cancer biology and oncology; and mammalian genomics.

Throughout his tenure, Smith strengthened Cornell's reputation as the most respected name in veterinary medicine, by leading the pursuit of animal and public health through education, research and service. Under his leadership, Cornell's Veterinary College has ranked consistently at the top, earning the number one ranking since 2000, according to US News and World Report.

Provost Carolyn (Biddy) Martin, who will convene a search committee to recruit a new dean later this spring, also remarked: "Under Dean Smith's leadership, the college has not only sustained its leadership in clinical research, education and patient care, but has become a major force in the university-wide initiative to enhance Cornell's research in the new life sciences. I am also delighted that the number of women faculty and the diversity of the student body have increased over the past nine years."

Smith was also congratulated on his leadership by the college's department chairs, who praised his academic vision, as well as his reorganization of the college's finances and the fostering of transparency and accountability.

"These policies and practices will stand the college in good stead for many years, and will serve as a wonderful legacy of Don's leadership," said Michael Kotlikoff, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Smith is well known for his attentiveness towards students, as noted by Julio Lopez, Cornell Class of 2008. "Dean Smith is very accessible to students and is always open to having a conversation with us. His genuine concern makes me feel that I can approach him with any problem I may have, whether it is directly related to the veterinary school or it is personal."

In expressing his heartfelt thanks to the faculty and staff, Smith congratulated them for working together to effect the fundamental academic and organizational changes that have positioned the college so well for the future.

After he steps down from his post, Smith plans to return to the faculty, where he will explore special opportunities concerning the veterinary profession, in particular the relationship of companion animals to the family structure in America.

"The role of pets in society is changing very rapidly and it is critical that the veterinary profession become more proactive in providing leadership in areas of public policy, health management and the dynamics of the family planning as they relate to pets," said Smith.

Smith also will continue to advocate for the advancement of the biomedical sciences within the veterinary medical infrastructure, an area to which he has devoted considerable attention while serving as dean at Cornell.

For more information about Veterinary Dean Smith and the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, contact the Cornell Press Relations Office at (607) 255-3024 or