Donald Smith, former Cornell dean and WVLDI founding board member, dies at 66


A dean, a notable bovine practitioner, a historian of veterinary education and a supporter of women in the profession: Former Cornell dean Donald Smith passed away Oct. 29.

Donald Smith, DVM, DACVSA former Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine dean, Donald Smith, DVM, DACVS, passed away Oct. 29 after a serious illness. He was 66.

His obituary and announcements of his death from Cornell and the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Institute (WVLDI) highlighted his work in bovine medicine, women's leadership in the profession and his love of veterinary education's past and future.

Smith served as the ninth dean at Cornell's College of Veterinary from 1997 to 2007 and more recently as the Austin O. Hooey Dean Emeritus at the school. "His research on metabolic alkalosis in ruminants was instrumental in advancing the field of metabolic diseases of cattle," states a Cornell press release.

His deep interest in the history of veterinary education led him to regularly blog and interview on the topic and co-author a book, Pathways to Progress, about the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

He was a founding board member of WVLDI, and in a Facebook post that organization called out his seminar on women's leadership and his work on a forthcoming book with colleague Julie Kumble-Leaders of the Pack: Women and the Future of Veterinary Medicine (due March 2017 from Purdue University Press).

Memories of Smith on a funeral home website included words from other veterinary school deans, Joan Hendricks from the University of Pennsylvania and Sheila Allen from the University of Georgia.

"I always appreciated how Don took on the mission of understanding and writing about the challenges women face when assuming leadership roles," wrote Allen.

Hendricks said she got to know Smith better after his work as a dean: "After we both attended an event that I cannot now recall, we both walked through Manhattan on a freezing night and discussed his history project [the Veterinary Legacy blog and the veterinary college history Pathways to Progress]. Later, as his blog became more and more influential, I heard from him and was happy to be interviewed by him. He was a lovely person and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to connect with him-I am sad the time was too short."

Smith is survived by his wife, Doris, three adult children, two grandchildren, his mother, two sisters and a brother.

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