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KNOXVILLE — Dr. Michael Blackwell, chief of staff of the Office of the U. S. Surgeon General, has been named dean of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Michael Blackwell, chief of staff of the Office of the U. S. Surgeon General

Dr. Michael Blackwell

Blackwell, whose appointment is effective Aug. 1, also holds the rank of assistant surgeon general in the U. S. Public Health Service.

Dr. Jack Britt, vice president for agriculture, announced Blackwell’s appointment. He succeeds Dr. Michael Shires, who is retiring after 10 years as dean.

“Dr. Blackwell has exceptional experience as a practicing veterinarian and as a national leader in veterinary medicine and public health,” Britt said. “He has a far-reaching vision of the role of veterinarians in sustaining the health and well-being of animals and mankind.”

Blackwell becomes the second African-American dean in the university’s history. The only other African-American veterinary medicine deans in the United States have served at Tuskegee University.

He has served as deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and as chief veterinarian of the U. S. Public Health Service. Blackwell practiced veterinary medicine in Silver Spring, Md., for 22 years and began his veterinary career as an associate in practice with his father in Oklahoma.

Blackwell received the veterinary medical degree from Tuskegee University and completed a master’s in public health at Loma Linda University.

University of Tennessee president Dr. J. Wade Gilley said Blackwell is an outstanding choice for the position.

“We are delighted that a person of Dr. Blackwell-s professional stature and obvious commitment will be leading our College of Veterinary Medicine,” Gilley said. “The college and its teaching hospital play a major role in fulfilling our land grant mission of public service.”

Blackwell, 49, is the fourth person to serve as dean since the college was established in 1974.