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OVC 2017 Violet Komodos take their bows on convocation stage

Ontario Veterinary College Convocation June 2017The OVC Class of 2017, the Violet Komodos, set off on the next phase of their careers in veterinary medicine with convocation ceremonies last week. 

Honorary Doctorate Dr. Mike Cranfield, OVC 1977, reminded graduates they are entering “a very complicated, complex world, one that is full of opportunities.”

 Co-director of Gorilla Doctors at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Centre in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, California, and project director for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Cranfield noted that on the same week 40 years ago, he was sitting in the same chairs grads were in. 

Cranfield reminded graduates their education is “more than a degree to practice veterinary medicine, it’s a passport to the geophysical world” and also a passport to a world of opportunities. He urged graduates to take advantage of every opportunity. “You often end up in places you never thought possible.”

Ontario Veterinary College Dean Jeff Wichtel with Honorary Doctorate recipient Dr. Mike Cranfield, OVC 1977Photo: Ontario Veterinary College Dean Jeff Wichtel with Honorary Doctorate Dr. Mike Cranfield, OVC 1977

Originally from Peterborough, Cranfield followed his DVM studies at OVC with a residency at the Toronto Zoo. He joined the Maryland Zoo in 1982 as Chief Veterinarian and subsequently became Director of Animal Health, Research and Conservation. In 1998, he became executive director of the world renowned non‐profit Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project dedicated to saving the lives of critically‐endangered mountain gorillas living in Africa.

Working with the mountain gorillas is extremely rewarding, not just because they a magnificent species, he added. “When you are working with an endangered keystone species, you are not only saving them, you are saving their habitat and biodiversity and biodiversity is a pillar or foundation of the globe to react to environmental insults whether human made or naturally made.” 

Noted Cranfield, “It’s not just going to be wildlife veterinarians who help conserve this biodiversity, it’s going to be all veterinarians.” 

“I hope your licence and passport gives you as much fulfillment as it has given me,” Cranfield added. 

Provost and vice chancellor Charlotte Yates reminded graduates that “big problems need lots of minds thinking together for solutions, not just like minds but unlike minds from varied backgrounds and perspectives.” 

“You’re about to explore and discover the next phase of your lives, including, I hope, finding ways to improve life for others around you and around the world,” she added.

A number of OVC staff, students and faculty were recognized for teaching, service and academic excellence at the June 16 Convocation ceremonies.

New awards at this year’s ceremony included:

The Ogilvie Leadership Prize in Food Animals, created by the Ogilvie family for a graduate from the Food Animal Stream with the best demonstrated leadership skills in the food animal area. The Ogilvie family has a strong history with the college including Dr. Tim Ogilvie, DVM 1975 and MSc 1981, Dr. Thomas Ogilvie, OVC 2010, Dr. Adam Ogilvie DVSc 2014. This award went to Dr. Ben Potvin

The Mitchell Family Prize was created by Dr. Bert Mitchell, OVC 1964, and his family in appreciation of the education provided to them by the University of Guelph. Mitchell’s distinguished career spanned the private and public sectors and his contributions made important impacts on public policy in Canada and the United States. The prize goes to a graduate selected based on their leadership and contributions in the field of public health, toxicology or pathology. This year's recipient is Dr. Stephanie Delorme. 

The class of OVC 1986 created the OVC 1986 Memorial Prize to honour classmates they have lost too early. Based on a class vote, this award is presented to a graduate who has provided the most meaningful mentorship and guidance throughout the first three years of the DVM program to the third year class. The 2017 recipient is Dr. Patrick Boelsterli.

At an earlier Convocation ceremony on June 16, Matthew Little, a PhD student in the collaborative program in Population Medicine and International Development, was one of the recipients of the Forster Medal, U of G’s top convocation award for graduate students. Named for the late Donald Forster, a former U of G president, the medal recognizes academic achievement, leadership and citizenship.

OVC faculty and staff awards included:

Dr. Ameet Singh, Clinical Studies, received the K. M. Bhatnagar Memorial Humanitarian Award, recognizing a faculty member who best portrays the attributes of the late Dr. Kumar Bhatnagar, OVC 1968, by being active in University affairs and supporting students outside the classroom 

Dr. Don Trout, Clinical Studies, received the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Teacher of the Year, chosen by the third year class as a professor who inspired them with their approach to teaching and learning.

The Zoetis Award for Research Excellence, recognizing outstanding research effort and productivity by a faculty member whose research significantly advances knowledge in veterinary medicine, was awarded to Dr. Patrick Boerlin.

Dr. Matthew Vickaryous, Biomedical Sciences, received the OVC Undergraduate Teaching Award in recognition of exceptional devotion and effectiveness in teaching undergraduate students at the University of Guelph.

Dr. Chantale Pinard, Clinical Studies, received both the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, recognizing an outstanding teacher who, through their ability, dedication, and leadership, contributes to the advancement of the veterinary profession, as well as the Ontario Veterinary College “Year ‘68” Award for Teaching Excellence, awarded for exemplary teaching, support and care for students over their four years at OVC.

The Merial Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching, based on a class vote on teaching ability, dedication, character and leadership, was awarded to Dr. Shannon Gowland, a primary care veterinarian at the Smith Lane Animal Hospital in the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre. 

Karla de Uslar, OVC Shared Administrative Services, received the Carlton L. Gyles OVC Support Staff Excellence Award. The award, created in honour of Dr. Gyles, a professor emeritus of OVC, recognizes a staff person who exemplifies his qualities, including: being an exemplary role model; creating a positive effect on those around them; being thoughtful and compassionate; having a willingness to accept responsibility that goes beyond their job function; being a mediator; striving always for high quality; striving for everyone to win; and being optimistic 

Nata Furfari, Hospitality Services, was awarded the OVC Class of 2001 Outstanding Support Staff Award for going above and beyond to enhance the learning experience of third-year students making OVC a more enjoyable working and learning environment. 

Watch the entire convocation ceremony on YouTube