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News - Summer 2010 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, Summer 2010
Volume 7, Number 2

Edited by Dr. Martin Stokes, July 2010

Pre-Vet Successes, Congratulations
The AVS program offers a B.S. degree in Animal and Veterinary Sciences with two curriculum concentrations, the Pre-Veterinary concentration and the less rigorous Animal Science concentration. Our program has developed an excellent reputation for helping students gain admission into veterinary colleges across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Undergraduate students are afforded the experience of interacting and being a part of the management of large animals through the UMADCOWS program (University of Maine Applied Dairy Cooperative of Organized Working Students), which gives them large animal experience not available to students in other majors or at many other institutions. The majority of our incoming students choose to be in the pre-veterinary concentration but only about 45% of our graduates are from that concentration. Since 1999, our first year enrollment has averaged 34 students plus 12 transfers, totaling 46 new students per year. Enrollment has, however, varied from as few as 22 first years (2003) to as many as 65 (2007). We anticipate having about 50 new students this fall. We had only fifteen graduates this May, so our total enrollment in September will be around 180 students, which is the third largest undergraduate enrollment in our college after the Schools of Nursing and Biology and Ecology. We are one of only three programs in Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture (NSFA) that graduate fewer students than they admit as first year students, averaging a graduation rate of only about 60% over the last 5 years. The School of Biology and Ecology graduates 80% of first year recruits and the School of Marine Science graduates 88% of their incoming classes. Other NSFA programs graduate more students than they admit in the first year. We are thus a feeder program for other degrees in the college and the university when our students discover just how academically difficult is the pre-veterinary curriculum. In recent years, 21-35% of our graduating class has been admitted to veterinary school in the US, Canada, Scotland, Australia and the Caribbean, which is a remarkable achievement for a state without a vet school and with no contract agreements with vet schools.

Our records are incomplete, particularly for 2002 graduates, but the following undergraduates, with their date of graduation from UMaine, were accepted into veterinary college since 2000: Simon Alexander, Erin Emmans (graduate student), Alison Haley, Alicia Sears, Alex Ernst, Maggie Vandenberg all graduated in 2000), Marsha Bryant, Amy Ruksznis, (2001), Laura Leighton (2003), Martha Hart, Jill Hebert, Jessica Walker (2004), Sarah Cady (deferred 2 years), Tyler Cote, Erika Harris (2005), Sarah Beth Bailey, Meghan Flannagan, Nicole Garrity, Julie Greenlaw, Alison Pease, Kara Pietroski, Lynel Winters, Anne Wyllie (2006), Colrain Balch, Greg Closter, Jen Johnston, Julie (Kaye) Caldwell (graduate student), Matt Rolleston (2007), C.J. Minott III, Jennianne O’Connor, Elizabeth Morse (2008), Christy Emmons, Abbie Futcher, Sam (Foster) Hodgkins (graduate student at UVM), Jen McGintee, Genevieve LeClair (2009), Lauren Mack, Marie Smith, Melissa Watts, Nile McGhie, and Jen Drew (2010). Should your name be on this list? Do you know of someone we missed? Please let us know. These students were admitted to seventeen vet schools in four countries on three continents. Our congratulations to you all. You worked hard at UMaine and even harder when you got to vet school. Three grads were also admitted to medical schools, and one to study law. So our total admissions to professional schools since 2000 is 45, out of 180 graduates, 25 percent. Again, congratulations to you all.

Changes at UMaine

Every five years, the departments in each college of agriculture in the US should be reviewed by an outside review team led by a National Program Leader from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. We were last reviewed in 2000 and our review had been delayed because of changes in our college administration. Four weeks before the review, the team, which included three professors from other universities, two of whom were also associate deans, were provided with a 270 page self-review document, written by Stokes with help from the faculty and from senior student Tori Polito, that summarized the productivity of our faculty and staff, and described the goals and accomplishments of our teaching, research and outreach programs. Over a three-day period in April, the team met with UM and NSFA Administrators, Chairs and Directors of other NSFA departments and schools, the Chair of AVS, AVS faculty (tenured, tenure-track, and instructional), collaborative Livestock Cooperative Extension faculty (LCE), AVS and LCE support staff, and AVS graduate and undergraduate students. All groups fully participated in these meetings. The team commented that the discussions were candid, and the information provided was of significant value to the team’s deliberations. Due to its small size, the team felt that the department was not sustainable in its present form if funding diminishes further and recommended that we be combined with other departments in which teaching, research, and outreach synergies could be realized through reduction and combination of complementary courses, development of new collaborative research efforts, and even better delivery of currently successful outreach efforts. Dean Ashworth had already recommended to the Academic Program Prioritization Working Group that AVS, Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences be combined to form the School of Food and Agriculture. This suggestion however was not included in the President’s final recommendations for reorganization and fund saving. Instead, he proposed the formation of a Division of Health and Biomedical Sciences (HBS) within NSFA that would include units with connections to the health sciences including nursing, food science and human nutrition, social work, communications sciences and disorders, and biomedically-related units such as molecular and biomedical sciences, with strong connections to biology and ecology, biological engineering, psychology, chemistry and other units. The President then assigned seven charges to a Steering Committee to work with Dean Ashworth, Dean of NSFA, the first of which was to identify additional disciplinary synergies that might be included, such as veterinary sciences.

The AVS faculty has encouraged Dean Ashworth to form the School of Food and Agriculture as he is able and feel it is most appropriate for us to be connected to the new Division since a number of our faculty perform research with potential human applications and many potentially serious diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease or Avian Influenza, can be transferred from animals to humans.

The review team made a number of other suggestions, including:

  • develop and agree between NSFA, MAFES, and CE administrators on the one hand, and AVS and LCE faculty on the other, the explicit and detailed goals, authorities, responsibilities, and impact measurements for all mission areas in animal agriculture;
  • identify and agree between animal agriculture faculty (AVS and LCE) and the NSFA, MAFES, and CE administrations, the priority issues, current scope, and options for future directions of the animal agriculture program, and develop a succession plan to insure the retention or development of research, teaching, and outreach expertise in these areas;
  • identify incentives that can be used to reward faculty for expansion or appropriate redirection of their research efforts;
  • incorporate and explicitly promote the relevant activities of the Lobster Institute into the existing collaborative teaching, research, and outreach of animal agriculture.

The AVS faculty will meet with Dean Ashworth early next semester to discuss how these recommendations can be implemented.

May Graduates
Fifteen AVS students graduated in May and several others will have completed all requirements to graduate in August, December, or next May. Congratulations to all of you with our best wishes for the future. Please come back to see us some time.

  • Abby Arena graduated cum laude and with honors but is still waiting to hear from Atlantic Veterinary College (PEI) where she has been wait-listed. Assuming that she will not be admitted this year she has arranged to complete in one year a second degree in Zoology while acting as a teaching assistant in AVS. She continues to work at Veazie Veterinary Clinic and is a Student Ambassador in New Student Orientation.
  • Elaine Bernier should graduate next May as she has several classes to complete.
  • Brittany Bracket still has one more class to complete in May term and will graduate in August.
  • Samantha Burrill completed the animal science concentration and will be working in animal care at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.
  • Kay Castonguay will graduate in December after she completes her minor in Resource and Agribusiness Management. Kay has also been successfully breeding cows at the Witter Center.
  • Sarah Doucette should graduate magna cum laude next May as she has yet to complete two classes that are only offered in the spring semester.
  • Jen Drew graduated cum laude and was admitted to veterinary college at Oregon State University.
  • Ashley Elsemore completed the animal science concentration with a minor in Equine Studies.
  • Kasey Fitch also completed the animal science concentration with an Equine minor. She plans to take some time off from school before obtaining qualifications in equine and canine massage therapy.
  • Elizabeth Hilton completed the animal science concentration and hopes to become a herdsperson with a possibility of ownership.
  • Lauren Landry will stay at UMaine for one more year to retake classes to improve her GPA as she still wants to go to vet school.
  • Lauren Mack graduated summa cum laude and was admitted to veterinary college at Washington State. In spring break she visited the Royal Dick School in Edinburgh, Scotland, but found the facilities to be very old with no access for students to the very new research facilities.
  • Gwenevere Maddox also graduated summa cum laude in the pre-vet concentration with an Equine minor and has realized that she really does not want to be a vet anymore. She is now exploring options in nursing and occupational therapy.
  • Nile McGhie graduated magna cum laude, was admitted to several vet schools and will attend the University of Minnesota.
  • Katie Milner completed the animal science concentration with a minor in Equine Studies. She will continue her studies at University College Bangor in the Veterinary Technology program.
  • Victoria Polito graduated cum laude and with honors and will study for an MS degree in veterinary studies at Oklahoma State University.
  • Kim Putterman also completed the animal science concentration with a minor in Equine Studies.
  • Marie Smith received our Outstanding Senior Award, graduated summa cum laude, and was admitted to vet school at the University of Missouri.
  • Danielle Sosnicki will complete the pre-vet sequence and graduate with high honors in August after she finishes one summer class.
  • Sarah Spurr still has some classes to complete and should graduate next May.
  • Melissa Watts graduated magna cum laude and will attend veterinary college at Kansas State University.
  • Elizabeth Wilcox needs two classes to complete the animal science concentration with an equine minor and then hopes to work in the equine industry.


  • Sally Fischel, BS 1990, dropped by the horse barn while Melissa Spencer was working with the horses and students.
  • Kris Mailepors finished his BS degree in 1994 by taking classes at UNH that were then transferred back to UMaine. He just completed an MBA at the University of Otago, New Zealand and rode a bike from Oregon in late July to raise money for the Front Row Foundation.
  • Shuyun Zheng, PhD 1997, is living in the Boston area while managing an online supermarket (
  • Serena Gross (BS 2006) a Master’s student in Ecology and Environmental Science received the NSFA Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award in May 2010.

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