Kansas State University's longtime veterinary college dean, Ralph C. Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, will step down and return to teaching, the university announced today.
Dr. Richardson, 67, has served as dean since 1998 – a 16-year period during which the College of Veterinary Medicine began enrolling more students, raised tens of millions of dollars in private donations and completed a number of capital projects.
A search for Richardson's replacement will be conducted, but details about the task were not immediately known. Richardson expects to leave office by July 15, 2015.
"I plan to continue in a faculty role with the college and the university, hoping to use my abilities in program building and my background in comparative medicine to continue strengthening collaborative programs that benefit K-State," Richardson said. "I have a real sense of urgency to see our plans for the future become reality, but I want the college and the university to have plenty of time to conduct an orderly search for my replacement."
Richardson, who earned his veterinary degree from Kansas State in 1970, was recruited in 1998 from Purdue University, where he was working as head of the clinical sciences department, to become the college's 11th dean.
He oversaw or implemented many changes at Kansas State, the university reported. Among them:
- Growing enrollment from a graduating class of 79 students in 1998 to the current incoming class of 112.
- Raising more than $72 million in private gifts, including the creation of 150 scholarships and seven permanently endowed professorships.
- Launching an early admission program in 1999 to open the college to Kansas State undergraduate students and help recruit exceptional students.
- Promoting the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas, which offers a debt-repayment incentive for graduates who go to work in rural practices.
- Initiating a DVM/Ph.D. program to encourage careers in research laboratories, academia and other alternative venues.
- Pushing for the construction of a $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The biosafety level-4 center is expected to be erected adjacent to the Biosecurity Research Institute.
- Hiring the university's first National Academies of Science faculty member, Jim Riviere, DVM, Ph.D., in 2013, and a Regents distinguished professor and Kansas Bioscience eminent scholar, Jurgen A. Richt, DVM, Ph.D., in 2008.
- Renovating the Veterinary Health Center's intensive care unit, linear accelerator, CT scan and MRI capabilities.
- Establishing a satellite hospital, MidWest Vet, in Omaha, Neb.
- Expanding the veterinary clinic at Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kan.
- Starting new traditions at the college, including Phi Zeta Day, which celebrates research accomplishments, and Kind Hearts Caring Hands Day, which recognizes the teaching and learning taking place at the college.
- Securing an additional $5 million in renewable state funding in 2013 as part of the "People, Places and Programs' initiative, which targets Kansas' economy, workforce, animal health and food quality.
Richardson is happy to share the credit.
"I could not be more proud of the faculty and staff in our college," he said. "We are truly like a family, and as I try to say frequently, we have accomplished the wonderful things that we have done because of the teamwork we have in the College of Veterinary Medicine and at K-State."
Kansas State's provost and senior vice president, April Mason, MS, Ph.D., said Richardson served "during a time of great change in both veterinary medicine and higher education."
"He has been the champion of many innovative programs, including the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health, which involves students and scholars from both countries together in efforts toward better veterinary health," Mason said. "I am most appreciative to Dean Richardson for announcing his future plans early so that a search for his successor can be conducted and assure a smooth transition of leadership."