Dean’s message: January 2023

Dean Dori Borjesson standing outside Bustad Hall on the WSU campus.

I still get motivated by hot coffee and half and half in the morning—my clear hours. I even walk with coffee in hand. Recently, I found myself thinking about impact and how we align with our land-grant and outreach mission. Visible and tangible efforts to make our world better. And what I have learned is that seeing is believing. Here are just two examples.

First, we care for the human-animal bond. We hosted a Dean’s Leadership Council meeting in Seattle earlier this month. Our afternoon focus was on the One Health Clinic where our veterinarian and veterinary students work hand-in-hand with human health care professionals to deliver trauma-informed care to young adults experiencing homelessness and their pets. The strength of the human-animal bond is palpable. We care directly for these young people by caring for their companions. It builds trust, continuity, and community. The health practitioners—both human and veterinary—are grounded, focused, and empathetic. This clinic makes people’s lives better. And the members of our Dean’s Leadership Council could feel that. I could see it in their faces. The impact was tremendous. I was happy to be there, sharing our work and the inspired stories and education that come from interprofessional clinical practice. 

Second, we care for agricultural animals and our food supply. Right before the holidays, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) was reported in commercial poultry in Washington state. The positive test for this outbreak was run at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, five days before U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmation at the national lab allowing for a truly quick response. This is their job, and they are good at it. But the story is more than that. The story is of engagement–we are part of a very effective incident command that is led by Washington State Department of Agriculture and USDA. We have a lab in Puyallup that focuses on avian health and food safety. Our local producers rely on our state-of-the-art diagnostics and engaged team members and there is strong trust and collaboration. This past fall, I visited a westside, family-owned, egg production farm and I was totally impressed with their facilities, the way they have responded to consumer demand for pasture-raised and organic products, their vision, and the thoughtful way they have had to modify their production because of bird flu. It has been hard, and we have helped. 

The college has broad and deep impact, I have seen it and I believe it!

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Be safe, healthy, happy, and stay hopeful.