With half of 2021 behind us, we are excited to highlight in this issue of ‘Scopes the progress on important college goals. I am grateful both for our community here at the college and to our many alumni and supporters who are all working actively to reach new heights in our educational programs, research accomplishments, clinical service and public outreach. I would also like to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come since last summer. When I wrote my message for the magazine then, our college was facing exceptional disruption. While our hospitals, diagnostic laboratory and research continued operations, this required careful adherence to public health guidelines. Many faculty and staff worked entirely remotely to decrease the density on campus, and our students continued to study online as we developed a comprehensive COVID-19 surveillance program to allow in-person instruction in the fall. Our planning required constant adaptation as federal and state guidelines changed frequently during this time. While the pandemic continues to affect millions of people around the world, we are grateful for the signs of progress in our region. Thanks to many people’s diligence in mask wearing, social distancing, testing and recent progress in vaccination, we are now transitioning back to normal operations on campus and planning for in-person instruction this fall semester. Many employees who have worked remotely throughout the pandemic are returning to campus, and newly recruited colleagues are meeting each other face to face for the first time.
This return to normal activities did not come easily. I appreciate the wonderful partnership between the university, Cayuga Health Systems and the Tompkins County Health Department that was so effective in reducing and responding to COVID-19 in our community. It was gratifying for our college to play a key part in this community collaboration through the development of the Cornell COVID-19 Testing Laboratory and through our scientific and public health expertise.
Thanks to long-term investment in scientific research in the United States and other countries, effective vaccines became available in record time. Our college and university community stepped up to be immunized and the benefits of COVID-19 prevention became quickly evident as case numbers dropped during the Spring semester. We hope that other areas will very soon see those same results as vaccines become widely available and administered in other parts of the country and world.
This united front of science and public health against a deadly pandemic illuminated how vital both these fields are in our modern world, and how our college’s mission and expertise in both these areas are equally as vital.
In recovery from any major disease outbreak or emergency, we must retain the lessons learned and motivations to prevent similar events in the future. The college will champion this mission through public health education and service; wildlife conservation advocacy; identifying ways to prevent the next zoonotic pandemic; research on SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses to allow better treatment and prevention; and continued work on other threats to humans and animal populations.
We also continue to learn much from a challenging year which exposed the impacts of racial injustice, wellbeing struggles in the health professions, and financial difficulties — all the while responding to rapid increases in demands for veterinary services. Our college faculty, staff and students have shown adaptability, resilience and ingenuity in everything from clinical and diagnostic services to digital communication and outreach.
In this issue, you’ll see how the college is still in a transitional state — still remembering, reflecting on and adapting to the pandemic’s impacts, while also looking forward to embarking on brand-new programs and deepening established excellence. I hope you’ll be as impressed as I have been by the diligence and dedication of the CVM community, and inspired by the future we are looking to create. •
Lorin D. Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. ’94
Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine