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Tuskegee awards distinguished veterinary medicine alumni awards, degrees

May 23, 2019

Contact: Anissa L. Riley, College of Veterinary Medicine

Along with celebrating the accomplishments of its 49 doctor of veterinary medicine graduates at its third annual Spring Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 4, the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine honored four of its graduates as distinguished alumni.

College of Veterinary Medicine graduates and administrators
Veterinary Medicine Commencement group photo

Award recipients included:

Dr. Theodore “Ted” Cohn ’75 has devoted more than 40 years of service to the veterinary medical profession. Since graduating from Tuskegee, Cohn has distinguished himself as a veterinarian in Colorado and a leader both locally and nationally. While a past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, he presented Tuskegee’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the AVMA’s Diversity Award in 2013. Prior to his election to the AVMA Executive Board, Cohn served on and chaired several AVMA task forces, committees and subcommittees, and he spent seven years in the AVMA House of Delegates representing Colorado veterinarians.

Dr. Phillip D. Nelson ’80 currently serves as dean and professor of immunology at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine. His academic career has included both teaching and research — the latter of which has focused on feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus infections as biological models for human HIV, and the development immunity in the dog and cat. He is a 2016 recipient of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award.

Dr. Nathaniel Powell Jr. ’80 currently serves as chief of Comparative Medicine and attending veterinarian at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shortly after graduating from Tuskegee, Powell entered the U.S. Army and served in the Veterinary Corps for 23 years before retiring at the rank of colonel. Much of his 37-year federal career has focused on leadership, animal welfare, management of infectious diseases containment suites, and training the next generation of laboratory animal veterinarians.

College of Veterinary Medicine Distinguished Alumni Awardees left to right, are Nelson, Powell, Davis and Cohn.
CVM Distinguished Alumni Awardees left to right, are Nelson, Powell, Davis and Cohn.

The college’s fourth honoree, Dr. Harold Davis ’76, also served as the ceremony’s commencement speaker. An experienced veterinary pathologist and leader in the veterinary medicine industry, Davis followed the doctor of veterinary medicine degree he earned at Tuskegee with a doctorate in pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After pathology assignments at the Naval Medical Research Institute and Brooks Air Force Bases’ School of Aerospace Medicine, and retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Davis directed toxicology and regulatory pathology for California-based Amgen Inc. A member of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists since 1983, his service as its president in 2003 marked the first and only time an African-American has led the organization in that capacity.

“At Tuskegee, I became a man.  Here I was told I could be somebody,” Davis said to the college’s DVM graduates. “So, class of 2019, go be somebody, because Tuskegee has equipped you as it had me — and I was well-prepared. Understand you are now a part of the ‘Tuskegee Legacy,’ and the legacy must continue.”

The 49-member class of 2019 included students from Alabama as well as 15 other states and Puerto Rico. More than a third of the class graduated with honors. Along with receiving their DVM degrees, graduates were hooded and accepted the Veterinarian’s Oath.

The college’s dean, Dr. Ruby L. Perry, DACVR, acknowledged a special element of the event — the college’s first commencement ceremony under the leadership of the university’s newly inaugurated president, Dr. Lily D. McNair.

“We were honored to have President McNair’s support this year, and we were also honored to have Dr. Davis as our commencement speaker,” Perry said. “His inspiring message to our graduates to follow their own ‘yellow-brick road’ to success and continue the ‘Tuskegee Legacy’ was on point, as well as a testament to the continual support he provides to his alma mater, Mother Tuskegee, for which we are appreciative.”

This year’s graduates — the 70th class to receive their doctor of veterinary medicine degrees from Tuskegee — are now among the university’s nearly 2,800 veterinary alumni.

In addition to DVM graduates honored on May 4, nine additional master’s and doctoral graduates from the College of Veterinary Medicine were part of the university’s Spring Commencement Exercises on May 11. They included Samina Akhter, master of public health; Dr. Amged I. Dafalla, Ph.D., integrative biosciences; Dr. Rawah A. Faraj, Ph.D., interdisciplinary pathobiology; Dr. Brandon R. Gines, Ph.D., integrative biosciences; Dr. Henry J. Henderson III, Ph.D., integrative biosciences; Mylo R. Howard, master of public health; Hamid Mahama, master of veterinary science; Deidre Quinn-Gorham, master of veterinary science; and Adam W. Varella, master of veterinary science.

© 2019, Tuskegee University