LSU's Legacy of Women Veterinarians


In April 2016, the LSU SVM held its first Women’s Leadership Seminar for students and faculty given by Ms. Julie Kumble and Dr. Don Smith. Said Dr. Lorrie Gaschen, associate dean for diversity and faculty affairs, "Dr. Smith told me something that had a large impact on me. As we were talking about the topic of equality and diversity, he said, 'Lorrie, we should not all be the same, forget who we are and what our backgrounds are in trying to be equal. The whole reason I became engaged in women’s leadership in veterinary medicine was to promote the importance of what women bring to our profession and show how they have made our profession stronger. The same is for minorities. I want DVM students and veterinarians to be proud of the their gender, race and ethnicity and how that diversity is crucial to the future of our profession.'" Don Smith died in October 2016 prior to the March 2017 release of the book co-edited by  himself and Julie Kumble: Leaders of the Pack: Women and the Future of Veterinary Medicine (New directions in the human-animal bond).


From the book: “Veterinary medicine has undergone sweeping changes in the last few decades. Women now account for 55 percent of the active veterinarians in the field, and nearly 80 percent of veterinary students are women. However, average salaries have dropped as this shift has occurred, and even with women in the vast majority, only 25 percent of leadership roles are held by women. These trends point to gender-based inequality that veterinary medicine, a profession that tilts so heavily toward women, is struggling to address. How will the profession respond? What will this mean for our students and schools? What will it mean for our pets entrusted to veterinarian care? Who has succeeded in these situations? Who is taking action to lead change? What can we learn from them to lead the pack in our lives? Leaders of the Pack, by Julie Kumble and Dr. Donald Smith, explores key themes in leadership and highlights women in veterinary medicine whose stories embody those themes. In it, Kumble and Smith cull over three years of interviews to profile a wide variety of women as they share triumphs and challenges, lucky as well as tough breaks, and the sound advice and words that inspired them to take their careers in unanticipated directions. By sharing unique stories that illuminate different paths to leadership and reflecting on best practices through commentary and research, Leaders of the Pack will allow more female leaders to create wider pathways to the top of their profession.”


Of Note

Dr. Lorrie Gaschen became the first woman in higher administration at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in December 2014 in her role as Associate Dean of Diversity and Faculty Affairs.


Dr. Rhonda Cardin became the second as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in April 2016.


Dr. Sandra Merchant retired from the LSU SVM after 28 years with us as a veterinary dermatologist.