November 3, 2016

Vet School Dean Emeritus, Mentor, Dies at 66

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Donald Smith, dean emeritus of the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine died on Saturday after suffering from an unspecified serious illness. He was 66 years old.

Smith took over the college in 1997 and worked to accomplish many construction projects, adding 40,000 square feet of clinical instruction and research space. He also oversaw a reorganization of the college, consolidating academic departments to reflect contemporary science and medicine and advised on the development of a comparative cancer program, according to the University.

Under his leadership, CVM was consistently ranked one of the top 10 veterinary schools in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“It’s been an extraordinary experience,” Smith said of the school after stepping down in 2007. “I never came into the veterinary profession expecting a leadership position at any level. I feel very grateful to the university for allowing me to serve in this capacity.”

Smith received his DVM from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and completed his internship and residency in large animal surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, according to the University.

After coming to Cornell as an assistant professor of surgery in 1977, Smith left to become an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but returned to Cornell in 1987 as chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences. Before becoming dean of the college, he also served as associate dean for veterinary education and associate dean for academic programs.

“As a faculty surgeon Smith had uncanny abilities, especially when treating individual dairy cattle with surgical diseases,” Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Susan Fubini said in a statement. “Every time I operated with him I learned something new. He mentored many young faculty and residents, championed the role of women in the profession and encouraged leadership opportunities for female students, staff and faculty.”

The current dean of the CVM, Lorin Warnick praised Smith’s work as dean in an email sent out to the CVM.

“I am personally grateful for the support and encouragement Dean Smith gave me since I was hired as a faculty member, and especially while I was serving as Interim Dean,” Warnick said in the email. “On behalf of all of us at the college I extend our sincere condolences to Don’s wife Doris, his family and many friends.”