Strategic Initiatives

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Strategic Plan
2018 - 2023


The Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland-College Park and the Maryland Campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) are one and the same unit, housed in the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The department was established in 1897 and served as an instructional facility until the addition of the research program in 1917. In 1990, the Maryland Campus of the VMCVM was dedicated. Throughout its existence, the Department has performed ground-breaking research in animal health and has become internationally renowned for research in animal diseases.

In the last five years, great strides have been made in the Department's contribution to animal and human health. The current department comprises tenured/tenure-track faculty, professional-track faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and administrative and technical staff members. The department's activities include research, teaching and extension/outreach, with a particular emphasis on investigation of disease pathogenesis, host immune responses and vaccine development for infectious diseases. The department now ranks in the top tier of animal health research in the nation, consistently producing new discoveries in the areas of virology, immunology, epidemiology, parasitology, bacteriology, mycology of animal and public health by outstanding scientists and teachers utilizing state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Our graduates are highly placed at prestigious institutions throughout the United States and elsewhere. This department is committed to the success and well-being of its faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students and staff.

This is a new Strategic Plan, developed after much discussion and input from the entire department faculty, and is the standard by which our department will function for the next five years. We believe that this new plan will provide us with the guidance necessary to accomplish our future goals, to raise our unit to an even higher level of excellence, and to lead the University to a ranking in the top tier of research universities in the nation. The plan also aligns with the principles and objectives outlined in the College and the University of Maryland Strategic Plan.


During the next five years, the department will become more internationally recognized for providing excellent educational programs, conducting innovative research in animal and/or zoonotic infectious diseases and biomedicine and serving as a catalyst for the dissemination of new knowledge and biotechnology in fields with high global impact.
Our values for guiding department decisions, strategies and actions are based on honesty and integrity, a continuous pursuit of excellence in all areas, diversity and inclusiveness, innovation and creativity, teamwork and collaboration, and transparency and accountability.


Research & Extension

The Department of Veterinary Medicine is nationally and internationally recognized for its outstanding research and extension programs. Our faculty have forged partnerships with federal institutions, universities, and private companies, from which they derive a steady continuum of sizeable contracts and grants to further their research in animal and human diseases.

Educational and Research Programs

The quality of our educational and research programs is known across the nation and globally and is fueled by a dedicated and highly-skilled faculty who are well-renowned for their outstanding research.

Organizational Structure

The department's organizational structure is one of shared governance, that being all faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff are afforded an opportunity to provide input in departmental decisions with the final decision being made by the Department Chair after careful consideration of said input and other relevant matters.

High Containment Facility

The department houses a USDA-approved BSL-3Ag high containment facility, one of the very few in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, in which research is conducted on highly-pathogenic animal and zoonotic diseases.


The department is centrally-located among federal agencies and institutions, several other nationally-ranked universities and biomedical centers and private industries involved in ground-breaking research.


With faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff representing different nations, our department is the epitome of diversity in race, nationality and gender. We are proud of our ability to work together toward our common goal:  the success and advancement of our department.


Lack of Visibility

The department is located across a major roadway from the main campus of the University of Maryland-College Park which precludes our day-to-day involvement in campus life, and thereby, impacts our visibility on the campus.

Lack of Faculty and Staff

Due to our relatively small faculty and staff bases, we are not always able to fulfill our teaching and service expectations, and are not able to pursue larger grant funding and graduate fellowship program opportunities. There is no technical staff for each lab, which significantly drain the faculty energy and time to meet the requirements of continuously increasing federal, state and campus regulations.

Lack of Financial and Personnel Resources

All truly successful departments require a certain level of financial and personnel resources that are essential for quality graduate education. Our unit has not yet reached that level. State and federal funding has become increasingly competitive over the past few years and, while we understand that this is a nationwide trend, it limits our ability to produce top quality research and develop excellent education programs for our students.

Infrastructure, Equipment, and Available Space

The Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center was dedicated in 1990. Since then, our infrastructure, equipment and available space have not kept pace with research initiatives. Our faculty and students do not have enough state-of-the-art equipment to perform their research at optimum levels.  We need additional space for labs, offices, student work areas and a service area.  The building is aging and air handler, plumbing and electrical installations need to be replaced.



The department is located in one of the major biotechnological corridors in the nation, which provides a wealth of opportunity for collaboration in biomedical research with federal/state agencies, peer institutions and biotech industries. This also provides our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows opportunities to become familiar with these facilities and to network with accomplished scientists from around the world in preparation for their future careers.


Our department research programs are funded by federal funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and have been successful in securing several very large extramural funding grants. The department is also funded through contracts from various industries, private foundations, and donations.

Influence on Policy

The department's close proximity to the nation's capital provides excellent opportunities to influence policymakers in animal and public health. Over the years, we have been instrumental in supporting many bills pertaining to animal and human health, and public policy.


Although, presently, the Department has only one Extension faculty, we make every effort possible to work with the poultry and biotech industry in translating research-based knowledge through Extension and Outreach. We used this approach to devise a poultry disease control and in-house composting program that has been adopted worldwide to prevent outbreaks of avian influenza and other economically important poultry diseases. We continue to work with the poultry industry, professional veterinary and poultry organizations, and state and federal animal health agencies to address their needs and concerns through applied research and science-based Extension and outreach programs.


State/Federal Funding

The department has experienced a difficult time in state and federal funding for Extension and research programs over the past several years. Although our extramural funding has increased greatly, the flat budget for state/federal agencies is seriously impacting the chance for our faculty to get continuous funding to expand the scope and depth of our research and teaching programs.

Cost of Living:

The high cost of living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area is prohibitive to many new talented young scientists and students considering relocation. This impedes not only our ability to hire faculty, staff, and postdocs or recruit students of high quality to complement those already here, but also current faculty, staff, postdocs and students. Housing costs are prohibitive and transportation is a tedious experience. The long term no/small pay increases in the past decade due to stagnant state economy has exasperated this issue.


Strategic Goals

Improve the health of animals and people by enhancing our research programs in the area of infectious diseases and biomedicine:

Increase financial, human and physical resources supporting research on economically-important food animal diseases, emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases and producing animal models for human diseases by increasing our extramural funding, requesting additional funding from our College and Campus administrations, federal and state agencies, and soliciting donations through expanded outreach strategies to potential donors.

Recruit, support and develop outstanding faculty by increasing our tenured/tenure-track research faculty base by five (5) within the next five (5) years. This will be accomplished by first obtaining approval for these hires from our College administration, securing the required funding for salaries, lab and office facilities, then launching a series of intense searches to identify the most qualified, suitable individuals for those appointments. We will provide start-up funding for a period of three years. Faculty mentors and monthly one-on-one informal meetings with the Department Chair will also be held. We will also promote these faculty for college, campus, national and international awards recognizing their work as we become aware of them.
Increase both the quality and quantity of our publications, which would be reflected in PubMed scores and Google citations and increase the volume of invitations to our faculty to attend and present at international scientific venues.

We will work to secure an endowment for a Chair position within five (5) years. This will be accomplished through extensive marketing of the department and its programs, increased contact with alumni and previous donors and cultivation of new donors.

Increase our efforts in the area of technology transfer from our patents.

Measures of Success

Our research expenditure is increasing at a steady rate over each previous year. We have achieved a number of outstanding tenured/tenure-track faculty in our focus areas. This, we feel, will bring us national and international recognition, will add to our already solid base of expertise in animal and human diseases, and will enhance our existing research programs.

We have achieved a noticeable increase in the quality and quantity of publications as evidenced by a marked increase in our PubMed scores and Google citations.  An increased number of faculty invitations to international scientific venues, an increased number of faculty memberships on editorial and review boards, an increase in referee requests, an increase in the number of book chapters produced by our faculty and an increase in the number of national and international collaborations entered into by our faculty.

Establishment of an endowed chair, endowed scholarship or fellowship in our department, which will definitely serve to increase our visibility as an institution capable of securing donor funding and will inspire other donors to follow suit.

Increased number of Disclosure agreements in comparison to the previous five years.

1. Improve the health of animals and people by preparing the next generation of outstanding scientists and professionals:

We will revamp our recruitment strategies, including updating the departmental website, graduate studies brochure, in order to attract the most outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows possible, concentrating on high GPA and GRE scores, class rankings and recommendations for potential students.

We will improve teaching to our graduate students, such as increasing the number and variety of VMSC courses available, continuing to enhance the graduate seminar course with experienced and influential guest speakers, providing the students with opportunities to travel to other institutions nationally and internationally to attend meetings and present their work, increase their stipends to the extent possible and provide them with a safe, comfortable working and study environment.

We will provide our postdoctoral fellows with an environment that is conducive to high-quality work, a salary that is as competitive to our peers as possible, an opportunity to conduct their research in a state-of-the-art facility and to submit career development grants, and opportunities to attend and present at national and international meetings and conferences in order that they may widen their field of focus and network with scientists and other potential employers throughout the world.

Measures of Success:

We will see a marked increase in the GPA and GRE scores and class rankings of our incoming graduate students. We will also see a marked increase in the number of publications as first- author in peer-reviewed journals and number of awards received by our students. Our students will have secured appointments in high-quality institutions, government agencies or private industry after graduation.

The number of graduate courses offered will have increased by three (3) in the next five (5) years.

The graduate student stipend will have increased to that minimally equal to the cost of living.

Our postdoctoral fellows will have secured appointments in high-quality institutions, government agencies or private industry, locally, nationally or internationally, after their postdoctoral experience. The department and faculty will also promote the outstanding postdoctoral fellows to the junior faculty level based on merit and funding.

2. Enhance Extension and Outreach activities:

We will work with Delmarva Poultry Industry, private veterinarians (through the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association), backyard and small-scale poultry producers, and animal health agencies to identify the needs and concerns of these stakeholders. We will develop educational programs and conduct applied research based on the needs and concerns of these stakeholders.

We will devise new strategies to support Extension and applied research as it relates to our programs.

We will work to fully integrate the department's research and Extension efforts into eXtension, which is an Internet-based collaborative environment where Land Grant University content providers exchange objective, research-based knowledge to solve real challenges in real time.

We will develop an internationally-recognized programs focusing on prevention and control of zoonotic and economically important diseases, including influenza, utilizing our already strong research and Extension backgrounds in this area.

Measures of Success:

We will see positive feedback from stakeholders in the form of increased invitations to speak at industry-sponsored meetings and conferences and increased correspondence and interaction with industry/commodity groups. 

We will receive positive feedback in the form of responses to surveys, interaction with industry advisory committees, increased production of publications and fact sheets and increased media exposure (television, radio, newspapers, etc.).

We will receive increased extramural funding for Extension and applied research programs.

We will have in place fully-engaged eXtension COPs (Communities of Practice). 
Our faculty will receive more invitations to present at international meetings and conferences, our Webpage hit will increase significantly and we will host an increasing number of trainees and visiting scientists.

3. Enhance Department visibility locally, nationally and globally:

We will develop, enhance and maintain our department website on an ongoing basis in order to provide the most current information available on our research, teaching and Extension programs to the university community, public and government agencies.

We will increase our affiliation and collaboration with other College/Campus departments by encouraging our faculty to pursue joint research projects with faculty in other departments, increasing our affiliate or adjunct faculty base and serving on graduate committees of students in related departments.

We will increase participation in campus functions by participating in various activities, such as  the annual Maryland Day/Ag Day and inviting campus faculty, staff and students to our seminars and department functions, as appropriate.

We will publicize our faculty achievements/accomplishments to the Campus via articles/notes in campus media, such as Research Rounds, The Diamondback, Momentum and via email announcements to the campus at large.

We will increase our faculty attendance at and active participation in national and international meetings and conferences in order that they may enhance their foci and expand their networks with other scientists in their own fields.

We will update the VMSC Graduate Program brochure to include new courses now being offered. We will make a concerted effort to identify college, campus, national and international awards and recognition and will promote our faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students and staff for same.

Measures of Success:

We will have a complete and functional website that offers an in-depth view, not only of our Department, our research, teaching and extension programs, but also of our vision of becoming a top tier unit of a top tier university and a continuing report card on our progress toward that goal.

Our affiliate faculty complement will have increased within the next five years and our department will be acknowledged across the campus for our participation in student functions, such as the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club, BioScience Day, Ag Day, and Student Welcome Fete, Annual Research Symposium, etc.

We will see a marked increase in the number of Diamondback and UM News articles published about our activities and in donations received from external sources.

The number of national and international invited presentations by our faculty will have substantially increased.

We will have generated a completely updated VMSC Graduate Program brochure within one year.

The number of awards, citations received by faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students will have increased exponentially as our people have become more prolific in their publications and achieve positive results in their research programs. Our department administrators will have established a search and selection plan to identify relevant awards and candidates within our ranks who are eligible nominees for those awards.

4. Strengthen our collaborative partnerships:

We will strengthen our collaboration within UMD by initiating joint projects with other campus faculty in our focus, or related, areas of research, teaching and Extension.

Likewise, we will strengthen our collaborative efforts outside UMD by seeking out and initiating opportunities to engage on joint programs/projects with private or corporate entities, public and federal agencies, and with national and international institutions that are engaged in our focus, or related, areas of research and Outreach.

Measures of Success:

Our success will be measured by an increased number of submitted collaborative grants, a greater number of publications in peer-reviewed journals, a higher level of participation by our faculty on graduate student committees, the establishment of an increasing number of joint research projects and regular faculty and student exchanges, with prestigious academic/research institutions nationally and internationally.

5. Improve the infrastructure to fully support excellence:

The Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center building is over thirty years old, with an aging infrastructure that requires extensive renovation. Much of the equipment, both large and small, is past its prime and does not meet today's excellence of research expectations. We have already begun building renovations by updating our BSL-2 suite and adding a new BSL-3+Ag facility, converting unused space into new research laboratories with faculty offices, updating all existing research laboratories and replacing our confocal microscope and Flow Cytometry machine. However, much more must be done in order to bring this facility to a level of one equipped to handle the cutting edge research being performed here. Still to be accomplished are, upgrade and expansion of our core facility, animal equipment replacement and improvement of N2 storage. We are also in dire need of additional laboratory and office space if we are to increase our faculty base.

Security is another serious concern in that our researchers work on highly pathogenic diseases and, accordingly, must be able to rely on building and campus security to ensure that the agents and animals utilized in their research are being housed safely and that no one other than the authorized users have access to them. We have installed interior locks and cameras in those sensitive areas and on the exterior of the building.

The current faculty/staff/student service area is woefully inadequate for our expanding complement, with insufficient seating, dining, storage and food preparation areas. An additional small meeting room is also required. We will seek innovative methods of overcoming these logistical problems.

In the area of personnel, we have an immediate need for a Web developer who will also perform public relations functions for the department; an administrative position to handle the VMSC graduate program duties; and three additional animal care personnel; all the while, retaining our current positions.

Measures of Success:

We will have experienced an increased amount of expenditures for the building, and for support services and equipment. Building renovations will be complete, other equipment will be in place, and the BSL-3+ facility will be annually inspected.

We will have an updated security system in place that ensures the safety of our personnel, animals and biological materials.

The personnel service area will have been expanded to at least twice its current size and will contain furniture, storage and food preparation areas large enough to accommodate our faculty/staff/students.

We will have hired three additional staff positions while retaining our current positions and the two additional positions are filled.