Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine hosts successful Annual Conference and J.T. Vaughan Equine Conference

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In contrast to the virtual conferences of the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large group of participants was welcomed from September 16 to 18 at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University for its annual conference 2021 and the JT Vaughan Equine Conference.

This year’s meeting continued the tradition of 114 consecutive years of continuing education offered by the oldest veterinary program in the Southeast. More than 460 attendees from across the United States attended the conferences, which provide Auburn alumni, faculty, students, vet technicians, and other veterinary professionals from across the region and across the country the opportunity to attend cutting-edge training events and professional networking opportunities.

The conferences and sessions were sponsored by Southern Veterinary Partners, Covetrus, Merck Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Elanco, CareCredit, CreditBench, Royal Canin, and American Regent Animal Health & Adequan. The three-day program offered lectures in various disciplines of small animal, farm animal and equine animal science as well as numerous health and wellness courses. In addition, the combined conferences included an exhibition hall with 18 vendors.

The 2021 program featured more than 85 hours of professional sessions in a variety of disciplines, including courses specifically designed for veterinary technicians. Online sessions were hosted by some of the best veterinary professionals from across the country, including speakers from the fields of veterinary education, research and business. The keynote speaker was Greg Williams, head coach of the Auburn Equestrian Team, who has led the team to six national championships from the National Collegiate Equestrian Association and four titles from the Southeastern Conference in his 26-year career at Auburn.

Among this year’s professional speakers were Dr. Josep Aisa, Assistant Professor of Small Animal (Soft Tissue) Surgery at the University of Tennessee; Dr. Colleen Best, a consultant and educator specializing in non-technical skills, including veterinarian-client communication, veterinary team performance, wellbeing, and resilience; Dr. Mike Brown, technical advisor to the US beef business at Elanco Animal Health; Dr. Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, Elanco Animal Welfare Officer; Dr. T. Robin Falkner, private consultant and veterinarian for industrial technical services; Dr. Richard Ford, professor emeritus of medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University; and Dr. John T. Groves, who owns and operates a farm animal veterinary service in Eldon, Missouri.

Further speakers in 2021 were Dr. Lore Haug, behavioral specialist at Texas Veterinary Behavior Services in Sugar Land, Texas; Dr. Dean A. Hendrickson, who served as hospital director and assistant dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University; Dr. W. Mark Hilton, clinical professor of beef production medicine at Purdue University and senior technical advisor on Elanco’s cattle team; Dr. Liza Köster, Clinical Assistant Professor of Cardiology at the University of Tennessee; Dr. Patty Lathan, Associate Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at Mississippi State University; Dr. Sara Place, Chief Sustainability Officer at Elanco; Dr. Brian Vander Ley, Assistant Professor and Veterinary Epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska Great Plains Veterinary Education Center; Dr. Andrew Duke ’75, who practices at the Duke Animal Clinic in Mobile, Alabama; and Dr. Bert Gaddis, who practices at Indian Springs Animal Hospital in Pelham, Alabama and is one of approximately 160 practicing veterinary dentists worldwide and the only board certified veterinary dentist in Alabama.

More than 500 alumni from the years 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 as well as from the years 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 – who could not celebrate in person last year due to the pandemic – were present at the 2020 class reunion. A special event, Career Connect, took place on September 19 following the annual conference. This event offered students and employers the opportunity to exchange ideas personally, build professional relationships and discuss potential employment opportunities. More than 45 employers and 150 students took part.

The first day also culminated in an awards ceremony honoring a group of distinguished veterinarians who have carried out their profession with great skill, knowledge, energy, compassion and professionalism and have built the college’s reputation.

Three alumni – Dr. David L. Suarez ’88, Dr. Douglas Martin ’99 and Dr. Mark Cheney ’69 – Winner of the 2021 Wilford S. Bailey Award. The award is the highest honor given to Auburn Veterinary Alumni to recognize their professional achievements in veterinary medicine, outstanding contributions to their communities, and the general advancement of human and animal health.

It is named in honor of the late Wilford S. Bailey, a 1942 graduate who served 50 years of uninterrupted teaching in Auburn, serving in positions ranging from veterinary instructor to dean to university president. The award winners are recognized in three different funding areas: research and public order, science and private practice.

Two other Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine alumni – Dr. Rory Applegate ’11 and Dr. Denty Vaughn ’11 – were honored as winners of the Young Achiever Awards 2021. Young Achiever Awards recognize members of the class who are celebrating their 10th anniversary. The awards recognize recipients’ professional achievements in veterinary medicine, outstanding contributions to their communities, and their overall improvement in human and animal health.

The winners of two other major awards were recognized, including the El Toro Award for Excellence in Food Animal Medicine and the John Thomas Vaughan Equine Achievement Award.

The El Toro Award 2021 was awarded to Dr. Awarded E. Muncey Pryor II ’78. The annual award was presented in 1994 by Dr. James G. Floyd Jr. and his family in memory of his father Dr. JG “Bull” Floyd launched animals and contributed to food animal practice and organized veterinary medicine – serving as a role model for veterinary medicine students.

The John Thomas Vaughan Equine Achievement Award 2021 went to Dr. Awarded to Timothy P. Stewart ’79. The award, named after Dean Emeritus John Thomas Vaughan, recognizes executives who contribute to leading the equestrian industry into a better future. It is awarded to an Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus who shows the Auburn spirit through leadership, dedication and passion for his or her profession, hard work that enhances individual and community outcomes, and humility in the effect he has on others and his profession had embodied.

The dates of the annual conference 2022 will be announced on the conference website at For more information, contact Meredith Smildsin at