Interview with the new College of Veterinary Medicine Dean, Birgit Puschner.

As your new dean, I am excited to join in the ongoing success of the College. This highly regarded veterinary college is where students, graduates, staff, and faculty make a difference in the veterinary profession every day. As I begin my tenure, I want to share a bit about my background and what inspires and drives me.

Who am I?

I moved to MSU from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine after more than 20 years in California. I am 51, and I’ve been married for 15 years. I grew up in a small farming community in rural Bavaria, Germany. My veterinary training included working at a slaughterhouse in the lowlands of eastern Bolivia and at a mixed-animal practice in Germany. After completing my dissertation, I was awarded a research fellowship that brought me to the United States, specifically Michigan, in 1995. From there, I continued my academic career in California.

Like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family, mentors, and life experiences. Many who know me say I am defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning and the desire to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

Why am I here?

The United States is the first foreign country I have lived in and Michigan was my first US home. I found Michigan very welcoming and I had a warm integration and fond memories of my early time in the state. I liked the environment, the people, and the climate. Yes, you read that correctly. I love snow. It is familiar, even nostalgic to me, as I grew up in the Alps.

This College has tremendous energy, collegiality, and dedication to its mission. It is transforming veterinary education. I am certain this is the same reason why most—if not all—of my colleagues are here. We want to empower our next generation of professionals to do amazing things. In my 20 years in academia, I have learned that I do my best and most rewarding work when I know it empowers others to achieve their goals.

Why are we here?

It all started with the Morrill Act of 1862, and then came the establishment of the College in 1910. While we initially focused on the care of companion animals and livestock, we now have a much broader impact on society. As we look forward, not only must we zero in on what the College can contribute, but how we can tell our story so that the community realizes what we do daily and how it impacts everyone.

What do we do next?

We need to be clear in our mission. We need to support creativity and innovation in education and research. We need to celebrate our differences and realize that every one of us is part of constantly evolving cultural change. We can do a lot to make things happen because we have talent, resources, and perseverance.

It is an incredible honor for me to lead the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. I have enjoyed meeting many of the students, staff, and faculty in person throughout the next few weeks, and invite you to ask questions or provide comments at any time.