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New NC State CVM Program Focuses on Race and Representation in Veterinary Medicine

speakers series collage

A monthlong program at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine explores issues of race and representation in the veterinary profession and higher education.

The CVM’s inaugural Fall Program on Race and Representation includes weekly presentations streamed live Oct. 8 through 22.

As part of the program, the CVM will hold its first Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness Symposium on Oct. 30. The 2020 distinguished alumni lecture will be held Nov. 5. 

 All events are open to CVM faculty, staff and students, as well as the general public through the college’s YouTube channel.

The programs reflect the CVM’s dedication to fostering diversity and inclusion within veterinary medicine, encouraging conversations about race in America today and supporting Black, indigenous and people of color within the campus community.

“Our college is following through on a commitment to addressing racism and its associated problems in our society,” says Allen Cannedy, the CVM director of diversity and multicultural affairs. “This speaker series will help educate our community about some historical policies and the exclusive effects they still have on marginalized groups.” 

Tracy Hanner
1986 CVM graduate Tracy Hanner

A speaker series, “Land Grant Universities, HBCUs and Veterinary Medicine: How Historical Policy Impacted Today’s Profession,” kicks off noon Oct. 8 with CVM alumnus Tracy Hanner discussing historically black colleges and universities and the struggle for education, civil rights and economic independence in the context of veterinary medicine.

Hanner was the college’s first Black DVM graduate in 1986 and has spent more than 30 years advocating for inclusion within veterinary medicine. He has trained generations of veterinarians as the former chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. 

An endowed scholarship in Hanner’s name supporting underrepresented minority DVM students at the CVM was awarded for the first time this year.

Fields Jackson, the founder and CEO of Racing Toward Diversity magazine will discuss the impact HBCUs have made on North Carolina at noon Oct. 15.

John Thelin, professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky, will speak about the legacy of American land grant colleges at noon Oct. 22. For more information on the speaker series, go here. 

Dr. Ruby L. Perry
Dr. Ruby L. Perry

Ruby L. Perry, dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss her college’s profound impact on the veterinary profession as part of the virtual Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness Symposium, held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 30. Perry’s talk is at 2 p.m.

The symposium will cover wellness trends in the veterinary profession and efforts within the field to address inclusion. To register, go here.

“The diversity, inclusion and wellness symposium is an excellent opportunity to learn from experts in our profession about their personal and professional life experiences,” says Cannedy. “These presenters will share their ideas on how to address challenges and make changes to improve diversity, inclusion and wellness needs for the veterinary profession.”

Phillip Nelson, who received a Ph.D. in immunology from the CVM in 1993, will give the college’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture at noon Nov. 5. Nelson, dean of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss his personal connection to HBCUs. Nelson is recipient of the college’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award.

He is a member of the American Association of Veterinary Medical College’s multicultural affairs committee, a strategic effort to broaden diversity in the veterinary profession. 

Phillip Nelson
Phillip Nelson addresses graduates at WesternU’s May 2019 commencement. Photo by Jeff Malet/WesternU.

“This program is an important part of how our college is working to better understand the impact of racism on our profession and to fight against injustice,” says CVM Dean Paul Lunn. “I’m incredibly proud of the work that my colleagues have done to put these events together and even more grateful to the outstanding speakers who are giving their time to this program. 

“We need a path to a better society and to a stronger profession that welcomes and supports every person equally. Our ambition is that this program will give us the knowledge and insight to make strides towards that goal.”

Practicing inclusivity is one of the four tenets of the CVM’s official core values. From the class of 2018 through the class of 2024, the average percentage of underrepresented minority students in each class is 25%. In the past 15 years, the number of underrepresented minority veterinary students has increased by 11%, though it’s estimated that 80% of veterinary students are white.

Our college is following through on a commitment to addressing racism and its associated problems in our society.

After Cannedy was named director of diversity and multicultural affairs, an Office of Diversity was launched at the CVM, led by a mix of faculty, staff and students. This year, regularly scheduled safe spaces for minority members of the CVM community have been offered on campus. 

“Progress is slow, but there has been great progress,” Hanner told the CVM in a July interview. “It takes generation after generation to continue on and get us to where we want to be and where we should be.”

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine