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Dr. Funk Takes the Reins

Dr. Funk Takes the Reins

On March 18th, Dr. Julie Funk will officially join the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine as their founding dean. She was formerly the Associate Dean at Michigan State, and brings with her an impressive background of academia and clinical practice.

Vet Candy caught up with the latest veterinary Dean to learn more:

1. Why did you decide to accept this position?

Dr. Funk: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a new College of Veterinary Medicine at a large public, land-grant university with a R1 Carnegie Classification for very high research activity. I am quite excited about the University of Arizona’s newly developed strategic plan, which I believe addresses and supports the needs and opportunities for veterinary medicine education in Arizona. The environment and energy at the University of Arizona is positive and exciting, which will help the College of Veterinary Medicine quickly become a top-tier academic and research facility.   

2. What are you most excited about working at this new veterinary school?

Dr. Funk: The opportunity to innovate and make an impact. There are many challenges for the veterinary profession and higher education. You can either be discouraged by the challenges or take the opportunity to benefit students, the profession and society. These challenges are the impetus for change and innovation. The University of Arizona, and the College of Veterinary Medicine, are ready for these challenges.

3. What do you think will be your biggest challenge in your new role?

Dr. Funk: My first thought was “everything!”  I like to frame challenges as opportunities. I think the most important “challenge/opportunity” will be developing a strong and healthy culture. We do not have a long history and thousands of alumni to build upon – yet! Like many new initiatives, along with the many successes, there will be tough decisions and difficult times that we will need to overcome together. We will be scaling up our faculty, staff and students rapidly over the first few years, which will add an additional layer of complexity when it comes to maintaining a healthy culture. The success of the college will be dependent upon a strong culture of trust, collegiality and genuine respect. Only then can we make great decisions that will allow us to persevere and succeed.


4. What advice would you give to veterinary professional students and those new graduates for success?

Dr. Funk: First, be open to the opportunities this profession offers. What I wanted to be when I “grew-up” changed several times. Many of the paths I have pursued were ones I was not aware of when I started veterinary college. I have been fortunate in being able to explore various career options. Technological advances in the field of veterinary medicine mean that many of your career options will be new to the profession. It is an exciting time to be a veterinarian!

Second, be kind to yourself.  We all fail.  We all have felt overwhelmed and insufficient to the task at hand. Allow yourself the time to acknowledge it, decide what you need to do about it and move on. And, if you are still developing these coping skills, do not be afraid to get the help you need to learn them. They will serve you well in life and will be a component of your ultimate success.


Learn more about the University of Arizona’s  program by clicking the link below:

The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine

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