Universities Announce Female Deans, Bringing U.S. Tally to Three for Veterinary Medical Schools

With recent promotions, Sheila Allen, DVM, MS, and Joan Hendricks, VMD, PhD, will become the second and third female deans of veterinary medical schools in the United States. Allen has been the interim dean at the University of Georgia since March 1, 2005, and assumed the title of dean on Nov. 1, 2005. Hendricks’ promotion will become effective at the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 1, 2006. The promotions have been welcomed by veterinary professionals who see the need for more female leadership in the profession.

"Women are assuming more leadership positions in academia, but not at the same rate that they are represented in the profession,” said Andrew Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. "For instance, 20 years ago about half of all graduates were women. Assuming that men and women are equally as likely to enter a career in academia, about half of those who are now entering senior academic positions should be women, but women make up only 15 percent of administrators, 18 percent of full professors, and 32 percent of associate professors in United States and Canadian colleges today.”

Shirley Johnston, DVM, PhD, DACT, became the first female dean of a veterinary medical school in the United States and Canada in 1998. She is the founding dean of Western University of Health Sciences.

“There needs to be a balance in all aspects of veterinary medicine to serve the needs of the profession,” said Debra Nickelson, DVM, MBA, president of the Association for Women Veterinarians. “This includes leadership in academics, as well as organizational veterinary medicine, industry, specialists, researchers and large practice owners. Such promotions send a message to women that if they do the best they can in their chosen discipline, get the recognition they deserve and work to serve their colleagues, they will get rewarded with positions and appointments that they deserve.”