By Leanne Niblock
The hunt is on for thoroughbred faculty members to ensure that students in the University of Calgary’s new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program will learn from some of the best in the world.
The recruitment committees at the faculty are busy interviewing and hiring qualified veterinarians and teachers from Canada and abroad. Ultimately, 60 people will make up the school’s faculty.
“We’re excited about the quality of the people we have investigating the opportunities here in Calgary,” says Dr. Alastair Cribb, dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
“It’s important to me to recruit people who have strong teaching skills, or the potential to develop those skills, integrated with excellent research skills. I know we are going to have an excellent team to welcome our students.”
Dr. Herman Barkema is one of the new recruits. When asked why he wanted to come to the U of C, he replies: “Alberta is the place for me.”
Although new to the faculty, Barkema is not new to teaching. He completed his DVM degree at Utrecht University in The Netherlands and then worked in Costa Rica as manager of a large beef and dairy herd, before teaching bovine herd health at Utrecht University.
Barkema, a teacher for more than nine years in The Netherlands and at the University of Prince Edward Island, is excited to face his first class here in Alberta.
“It is very exciting to build a new veterinary college, particularly one that will be research oriented,” he says.
Barkema’s research focuses on prevention and control of diseases in cattle herds, something that will be of vital importance to graduates of the new faculty.
“It has become very clear that we should focus much of our teaching on infectious diseases, particularly the ones with a potential link to human health,” says Barkema.
Clinical faculty will also connect students with veterinarians in community practices. One member of the team with such connections is Dr. Erin Fierheller, an assistant professor.
Having completed her veterinary degree in 2000, she entered into a mixed animal practice in Leduc before returning to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon to complete a large animal surgery residency and a master’s in veterinary science. With an interest in teaching and research, she felt it was important to gain practical experience in private practice before returning to an academic institution.
“It was after my interview that I knew I would like to be a part of the program” at U of C, she says. “It was very refreshing to meet new faculty with excitement, ambition and enthusiasm, creating a positive and collegial atmosphere. To be in on the early stages of developing a program focused on engaging students and providing a clinically relevant, broad veterinary education was very enticing.”
Interviews are ongoing and currently more than 20 faculty and several support staff have been recruited. Their expertise and interests range from communications to virology.
Most of the clinicians and professors will have a special interest in one or all of the faculty’s three education streams: production animal health, public and ecosystem health, and investigative medicine.
For more information about the faculty and to read full biographies of all the faculty members, go to www.vet.ucalgary.ca.