Council on Education Survives Reform Movement

Four resolutions that could have sent the accreditation board on a new path go down to defeat in the AVMA House of Delegates.

The AVMA House of Delegates rejected four resolutions that could have led to further changes in the college-accrediting Council on Education.

Meeting Friday during the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Boston convention, the delegates also acted on another high-profile issue by agreeing to hold themselves more accountable to the organization’s 86,000 members. How each delegate votes on everything except elections will now be revealed.

The House easily defeated two resolutions seeking a more independent Council on Education and one urging the AVMA board of directors to push for the temporary suspension of accreditation actions at new veterinary schools. Also voted down was a last-minute measure, Resolution 14, which called for the formation of a committee to investigate all options—from creating a fully autonomous council to maintaining the status quo.

AVMA’s executive vice president and CEO, Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, saw the collapse of the resolutions as a vote of confidence in the Council on Education. The council, which accredits colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and elsewhere, has been under fire for its close association with AVMA, for education standards that critics complain are too low, and for its money- and time-consuming work overseas.

Two of the resolutions—11 and 12—were submitted by the New York Veterinary Medical Association, which sought the one-year accreditation moratorium and the establishment of a Veterinary Accreditation Review Board. The New York group, in its petitions, argued that “the veterinary profession has been torn apart over the issue of accrediting veterinary schools” and that changes made earlier this year to move the Council on Education from under the AVMA’s umbrella didn’t go far enough.

The New York delegate, Walter McCarthy, DVM, doesn’t expect the debate to end.

“We wouldn’t even be talking about [the Council on Education] unless they brought it to the floor,” Dr. McCarthy said of his group and the sponsors of Resolution 13: the veterinary medical associations of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky and Nevada.

“It will continue,” he said. “It’s a conversation.”

Mark P. Helfat, DVM, the District 2 representative to the board of directors, addressed the House before the vote on Resolution 14. The newly constructed firewall between AVMA and the council, including a ban on board members from tagging along on college site visits, is adequate, he said.

“What is the discontent, what is the dissatisfaction, what is the reasoning for tearing down the COE?” he asked. “The COE has already responded with changes.

“Do any of you recall a complaint up till recently?” he added.


Resolution 10

The New Hampshire Veterinary Medical Association got half of what it asked for when the House of Delegates approved an amended Resolution 10. AVMA members will learn how their representatives vote on resolutions and other questions, but ballots cast in elections will remain secret.

“The House is now translucent instead of transparent,” said New Hampshire Delegate Thomas Candee, DVM, who championed the resolution.

Critics of the measure expressed concern during a reference committee meeting “that members of the [House] might be targeted for their decisions on controversial issues,” said AVMA@Work blogger Kimberly May, DVM, MS.

Dr. Candee dismissed such worries, saying, “Once they see it doesn’t come back to bite them, maybe we can move further with some transparency.”


Other Measures

The House of Delegates:

  • Approved six-year terms for members of the board of directors, up from four years.
  • Unanimously passed a resolution on the use of random-source dogs and cats for research, testing and education. The measure emphasizes the importance of ensuring the animals’ good welfare.
  • Asked the board of directors to revise a resolution calling for greater education of pharmacists who dispense animal drugs. The board may craft separate policies focused on education and communication.
  • Postponed a decision on the Revised Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, sending it back to the board with suggested changes.


New Leadership

  • Reidsville, N.C., veterinarian Joseph H. Kinnarney, DVM, MS, took over as AVMA president, replacing Theodore Cohn, DVM. Next in line is Vancouver, Wash., veterinarian and AVMA executive Thomas Meyer, DVM, who ran unopposed.
  • Vying for president-elect next year are Mike Topper, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, the director of clinical pathology and immunology at Merck & Co., and Hartselle, Ala., veterinarian Jan Strother. Dr. Topper serves as chairman of the House Advisory Committee, while Dr. Strother is a former AVMA vice president.


Pending Appeal

The AVMA board of governors heard a request by Mary Beth Leininger, DVM, that she be reinstated to the 20-member Council on Education. Dr. Leininger, a former AVMA president, was removed in 2014 after questioning whether the council had enough resources to accredit both domestic and foreign schools.

When the board will rule on her status is uncertain.

“I didn’t expect [a decision] during this meeting because the board of governors has so many other responsibilities,” she said.


New Image

AVMA on Saturday launched a new logo and promised better communication with members.

Part of the logo is the message “Our Passion. Our Profession.”

“We hope the new [slogan] … reassures AVMA members that they are our passion and our profession,” said former president Ted Cohn, DVM. “It also elicits a sense of pride among veterinarians and is grounded in the deep-rooted passion we have for animals and our professional role in preserving both human and animal health.” 

Unveiled during a celebration in the exhibition hall, the campaign includes enhanced communication about advocacy work and current issues as well as greater attention paid to veterinarians outside the small animal world.

“The purpose of this new initiative is to make members aware of their active role in the efforts of the AVMA, as well as engaging with them in a more collaborative manner that lets them know we’re listening and evolving with their needs,” chief marketing officer Mark Lenhart said.

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