Academic Affairs Prioritization
Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology
- Teaching and Learning –
The VMP consists of a cadre of accomplished and entrepreneurial faculty
members supported by dedicated staff and administrators who collectively
embrace the Strategic Plan of WSU and its Land Grant mission. We are
committed to training our graduate students to be the best scientists that they can
be and our veterinary students to be competent, compassionate and fully
committed to developing their leadership and communication skills to the highest
levels so that they may contribute effectively to society. We are considerably
strengthened by our partnerships with the personnel and programs of the
Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USDA-ARS-Animal
Disease Research Unit and by the strong support of the College of Veterinary
The Department’s teaching and learning programs have been recognized as
innovative and provide world-class instructional experiences for both veterinary
students and graduate students. As such, they directly advance Washington State
University’s vision for world-class instruction.
The VMP provides excellent instruction in courses unique to majors and courses
that meet the requirements for accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical
Association. The graduate courses are incorporated into the world-class research
program of the VMP and its partnering units.
VMP faculty members participate in two NIH funded training grants that support
PhD graduate students. One of the training grants is centered in the VMP and the
other is centered in the School of Molecular Biosciences. Additionally, VMP
faculty participate in a training grant for veterinary student research.
VMP faculty members have been primarily responsible for the development and
implementation of the concept of “Diagnostic Challenges,” which are a
nationally emulated instructional program providing veterinary students with
small-group case-based learning experiences.
The quality teaching and learning programs of the VMP contribute to the
ongoing accreditation status by the Council of Education of the American
Veterinary Medical Association. Also, they contribute effectively to the
accreditation of the institution as a whole.
Demand – external
Faculty members of the VMP contribute to the DVM professional program of the
College of Veterinary Medicine. The teaching that the VMP faculty members
provide is throughout the curriculum, extending from basic sciences in the first
year of the professional curriculum to clinical courses in the fourth year. Most of
the courses are on topics of pathology, immunology, public health, and infectious
diseases. Dr. Ron DeHaven the Executive Vice President of the American
Veterinary Medical Association testified before the US House Energy and
Commerce Subcommittee on January 23, 2008. He highlighted the national
shortage of veterinarians and how it is impacting the risk to the nation’s food
supply and could hinder the country’s ability to prevent the spread of diseases
from animals to humans. Dr. DeHaven stated that the number of veterinarians
available to serve society in these key public health positions does not meet
demand and he cited a recent study that projects this shortage to worsen by 4 to
5% annually well into the next decade. Relatedly, according to a recent report by
the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary medicine ranked 9th in the list of the
30-fastest growing occupations. Dr. DeHaven, drawing upon this report
estimated that jobs for veterinarians will increase by 35% in the next several
years. Thus there is a large external demand for veterinarians with clinical
proficiency to practice veterinary medicine and contribute to public health.
The veterinary pathology training program in VMP is conducted in concert with
the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL). We graduate
approximately 2 anatomic veterinary pathologists with PhD degrees each year.
We are one of the larger veterinary pathology training programs in the US.
Veterinary pathologists perform critical roles in two primary areas nationally, in
the diagnosis of diseases and in the determination of the toxic effects of drugs
under development. Thus veterinary pathologists are crucial for public health.
The American College of Veterinary Pathologists is in the process of finalizing a
study on needs for veterinary pathologists in the years ahead. Their preliminary
data indicate that there will be a need for 850 additional veterinary pathologists
over the next 5 years. These will be required by big pharma, small pharma,
academia, government labs, and private and public diagnostic laboratories. It is
anticipated that in the next 12 months 125 positions for veterinary pathologists
will open due to retirements and that retirements will increase to a rate of
approximately 150 per year for each year for the years 2010 – 2013. Thus, there
is very high external demand for anatomic veterinary pathologists. Our graduates
all secure excellent and high paying positions.
Competence in anatomic veterinary pathology is evaluated by an extremely
rigorous examination conducted annually by the American College of Veterinary
Pathologists. All graduates of the Washington State University veterinary
pathology training program who prepare for and pursue the ACVP rigorous four-
part examination pass this examination and become ACVP diplomates. In the
last 10 years all 18 graduates who prepared for the examination passed it. These
are academically gifted students who are mentored by talented faculty within a
structured and very demanding training program. ACVP certification documents
their competency and opens up to them a wide variety of positions in which the
federal government specifies that only ACVP diplomates can function.
The veterinary microbiology training program in VMP is conducted also in
concert with WADDL. The creation of a program specifically designed for the
training of veterinary diagnostic microbiologists was first initiated in VMP and
has since been emulated by several other USA colleges of veterinary medicine.
We graduate approximately one veterinary microbiologist with a PhD degree
each year and each is highly successful in achieving certification by the
American College of Veterinary Microbiologists. Veterinary microbiologists
perform critical roles in the laboratory diagnosis and the maintenance of public
health and in the surveillance of animal diseases for the protection of animals and
humans. Veterinary microbiologists with PhD degrees, especially those certified
by the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists are generally recognized
as the leaders in public health, animal disease diagnosis, and the surveillance of
diseases at the human-animal interface. There is a vast shortage, as indicated in a
previous bullet, of such trained personnel in the US.
The national need for trained veterinary scientists extends beyond those in
possession of DVM degrees. The Departmental PhD and MS graduate programs
also train non-veterinarians in microbiology, parasitology, genomics, and
immunology. These scientists are sought after by academia, industry, and
diagnostic laboratories and graduates have a plethora of positions available to
them upon their completion of their advanced degrees. They secure excellent-
paying and challenging positions and are provided with as many offers as they
want to invest time in interviewing.
Demand – internal
The VMP offers 9 courses within the veterinary curriculum. These include
Veterinary Immunology, Veterinary Virology, Veterinary Bacteriology,
Veterinary Parasitology, Veterinary Medicine and Human Health, General
Pathology, Systemic Pathology, Diagnostics, and Avian Medicine. These are
important courses in the pre-clinical years of the veterinary curriculum and the
Department is committed to the highest quality instruction in these courses. The
elective block, Diagnostics, is highly subscribed by fourth-year veterinary
students as an indication of its perceived value. Twelve WADDL faculty
members have partial appointments within WADDL and partial appointments
within VMP and these faculty members contribute significantly to the
instructional effectiveness of the VMP’s instructional programs especially to
veterinary students. These faculty members also are active in mentoring and
advising graduate students.
In addition to the instruction provided in the veterinary curricular program and in
the graduate program, theVMP, as part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, is
proportionately responsible for the enrollment at Washington State University of
undergraduate students intending to enroll later in the veterinary curricular
program. As the only College of Veterinary Medicine in the State of
Washington, many students that intend to enroll in veterinary medicine enroll at
WSU with majors that fit within the umbrella of “pre-veterinary medicine.”
Many of these students eventually change majors but continue enrollment at
Washington State University. Thus our instructional programs contribute to the
enrollment of undergraduate students at Washington State University.
The student credit hour FTE in the professional program is defined as one student
who is enrolled for 10 credits in 500 level or higher courses. In most semesters
veterinary students are enrolled in 18 or more credits at the 500 or 600 level.
And thus, these ~400 veterinary students generate approximately 1.95 student
credit hour FTE’s. That equates, at any one time in the College of Veterinary
Medicine, to approximately 785 SCH FTE’s. The proportion of this College FTE
that can be attributed to the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and
Pathology is approximately 27%.
The Departmental PhD-research program emphasis is on mentored research
experiences as an effective real-world based approach as opposed to an emphasis
on formal course work. Thus the Department has only two core graduate-level
courses and these are focused primarily on research design and implementation
in which both Departmental and other WSU graduate students enroll.
VMP faculty members with assignments in the teaching area have been
recognized with 67 teaching awards. These include the CASE Professor of the
Year for the State of Washington and the National Merck AGVET Award for
Creativity in Teaching for which the $25,000 prize was used to establish the
College’s “Endowment for Creativity in Teaching.” Also the USDA/NASULGC
National Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching plus the
“North American Teacher of the Year Award in Veterinary Medicine” were
awarded to Departmental teaching faculty. At the campus level awards included
the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction and the Marian E. Smith
VMP has expectations of quality instruction on the part of faculty members with
instructional responsibilities and provides support elements to assist faculty in
achieving these ends and clearly enunciates such expectations. The College of
Veterinary Medicine performs anonymous quantitative evaluations of teaching
faculty with information provided by enrolled DVM students each course in each
semester of the curriculum. The ratings are collated by Department and mean
ratings for each Department and the overall College are calculated. The VMP
consistently has above average course ratings. For instance, for spring semester
of 2007, on the item “Rate the Course Overall” the College mean was 3.88 (on a
1.0 to 5.0 scale with 5.0 the highest rating) whereas the VMP mean was 3.98.
For fall semester of 2007, the numbers were 3.81 on “Rate the Course Overall”
for the College and 4.19 for “Rate the Course Overall” for VMP. These ratings
are typical of the VMP’s ratings over the past decade. These figures document
the quality of the VMP’s teaching in the veterinary curricular courses.
The VMP provides experienced teaching faculty mentors for newly recruited
faculty members with teaching assignments. The expectations of high quality
instruction are conveyed to newly recruited faculty members and are emphasized
at Annual Reviews and Progress-Toward-Tenure Reviews each year. The only
two VMP tenure-track faculty members recruited as Course Directors whose
reviews were consistently well below average did not achieve tenure.
VMP committed as part of its benchmarking process to double the number of its
graduate students from 24 over the five years that extend from fall semester of
2004. We are on track in this regard as we have 42 graduate students enrolled in
the VMP and expect 48 graduate students in 2009.
The Department consistently relies permanent and experienced faculty members
as Course Directors and primary instructors in the veterinary curriculum courses
rather than relying upon graduate students or teaching assistants. Opportunities
for gaining teaching experience are available for graduate students but their roles
are supportive and usually optional, rather than central.
A total of 17 VMP graduate students have secured Achievement Rewards for
College Scientists (ARCS) scholarships from the Seattle Chapter of ARCS and
10 of these are currently enrolled in Departmental PhD-degree graduate
VMP administrative structure is lean and flat. Salaries of the Department Chair
and the administrative support staff total $345,261 whereas the programmatic
personnel salaries and stipends total $2,975,620 and thus the total administrative
costs are only 10.4% of the overall costs of the Department.
VMP teaching program interfaces at multiple points with the programs and
personnel of WADDL. The case material for the DVM curricular pathology
courses is derived from the WADDL and the case material and physical
laboratories of WADDL are utilized for the anatomic veterinary pathology
training program. WADDL faculty members have dual appointments in WADDL
and most also in the VMP. Without the access to case material we would not be
able to sustain a veterinary pathology or veterinary microbiology training
program and the teaching of veterinary students in the DVM curriculum would
be severely curtailed and negatively impacted. Thus the interactions of these two
units are synergistic in the teaching arenas and are a very cost effective approach
to enhancing effective teaching.
VMP provides approximately $40,000 per year in direct support of the
Departmental DVM curricular and graduate student courses. These funds are
allocated annually based upon the recommendations of the VMP Instructional
Resources Advisory Committee and are in addition to the funds provided for a
salary support of faculty members and teaching staff.
The quality and successes of the VMP’s teaching programs have facilitated the
acquisition of private support for Departmental programs. Such support has been
secured by the efforts of Departmental faculty and leaders in concert with
development professionals of the College and the WSU Foundation.
Endowments for the veterinary curricular courses have been established with
donated funds which contribute to cost effectiveness.
The USDA-ARS-Animal Disease Research Unit provides collaborative funding
for PhD graduate students possessing DVM degrees through the ARS DVM/PhD
The critical need for veterinary pathologists coupled with the prominence and
effectiveness of the Veterinary Pathology Training Program has led to the
acquisition of private support of the VMP/WADDL veterinary pathology training
program including graduate student stipends. This support contributes to cost
The VMP is committed to achieving and providing equitable and appropriate
levels of compensation for its faculty and staff. Compensation levels
commensurate with performance levels are cost effective. Such levels promote
positive morale, contribute to retention and recruitment and avoid the expensive
costs associated with replacing high performance individuals.
The administrators and administrative staff of the Department including faculty
members who have authority to expend funds are committed to high levels of
stewardship of the funds with which they are entrusted.