UT has recently garnered significant national accolades, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Trailblazer award for retention and graduation rate gains and the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for outreach. These successes are due to the hard work of our innovative employees. Here’s a look at two College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members who are trailblazers in and out of the classroom.
You might call Karen McCormick a horse whisperer.
That’s because McCormick, a clinical assistant professor of equine internal medicine and neonatology in Large Animal Clinical Services, believes strong communication is key to preparing the next generation of equine veterinarians.
She tries to stay abreast of the latest industry trends and relay them to her students through innovative teaching.
“My goal is to constantly strive to improve my teaching and the ways that I lecture. Keeping up to date on not only the facts for each particular lecture, but on changes in the profession and new ideas for improving the profession, is vitally important,” she said.
McCormick began teaching at UT when she began her large animal medicine residency here in 2005.
She intended to begin a private veterinary practice but soon learned how much she enjoyed teaching and motivating students.
McCormick does most of her teaching from the clinic floor, dealing with horses that need anything from routine health care to specialized attention.
Her main focus is teaching students clinically applicable information and the cycle of the disease process. In addition, she teaches equine elective courses—such as large animal ultrasound and large animal clinical skills—that provide hands-on-learning for students.
McCormick furthers her own learning through veterinary education conferences and communication workshops, taking that knowledge and bringing the information learned back to the college.
“Karen is all about providing students the necessary knowledge and skills to allow their professional success. She is there at a moment’s notice when you need her, but she expects full engagement and commitment from her students,” said Jim Thompson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “If you’re willing to go the extra mile to be successful, Dr. McCormick will run that mile with you and celebrate your success.”
The opportunity to teach a new set of faces every year—and getting to know the stories behind those faces—is one of Robert Reed’s favorite parts of teaching.
“That is why I can teach until the day I turn eighty years old,” he said. “There will always be a new class of students coming in each year.”
Reed is an associate professor in the department of biomedical and diagnostic sciences. He teaches first-year veterinary students. In the fall, they learn small animal gross anatomy; in the spring, large animal gross anatomy.
Rather than using preprinted notes or set lectures that have designated beginnings and endings, he has a story that goes all semester long—one of many ways he engages with his students.
He also keeps students engaged by using plastination, a process used in anatomy to preserve body parts.
When he dissects a specimen before plastinating it, he determines what he wants the students to know about that particular aspect of the animal. Once plastinated, that section shows students the relationship between the organs, tissues, skeleton, and even arteries and veins as they appeared when the creature was living.
He also works with one of the college’s small animal surgeons, Joe Weigel, on a bone modeling course. Students use clay to replicate bones, being careful to mold every little bump and groove—nuances that might not have names but can have surgical implications.
“Robert has passion for ensuring our students understand both anatomic structure and function. I often see him late at night assisting students as they strive to learn this foundational material upon which all of veterinary medicine builds. He adds much to our college because he truly cares,” Thompson said.
That passion also extends to an elective course that Reed offers—supplemental topics in veterinary anatomy—in which second-year veterinary students learn the gross anatomy of exotic species such as snakes, turtles, rabbits, ferrets, and pigeons.
Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365, firstname.lastname@example.org)