March 7, 2024

Purdue’s pioneering dean of veterinary medicine to step down after a quarter-century of university service; search launched

As planned and announced to Purdue University Veterinary Medicine colleagues two years ago, Dean Willie Reed will step down June 30, after 17 years in his leadership role and 25 total years of service to the university. A celebration of Dean Reed’s legacy will take place later this semester, and a search advisory committee for his successor is set to begin its work.

“We simply cannot thank Dean Reed enough for his pioneering leadership at Purdue,” Purdue Provost Patrick Wolfe said. “Having received two lifetime achievement awards from Indiana and U.S. professional societies this past year alone, I know Willie is looking forward to a much-deserved scientific sabbatical. His story is amazing, as is the arc of his career and professional accomplishments, and it is one that I know students, faculty and staff at Purdue will cherish for many years to come.”

Since becoming dean in 2007, Reed has consistently championed One Health at Purdue — bringing together animal health, human health and plant health — and the university continues to strengthen and accelerate his groundbreaking approach to excellence and education in these areas. He has also guided Purdue Veterinary Medicine in developing and executing a series of three visionary strategic plans to enhance the future through innovative educational initiatives, groundbreaking research, and creative and effective engagement programs.

“It has been a humbling and incredible honor to live out my childhood dream of becoming a doctor of veterinary medicine to the fullest at Purdue,” Reed said. “The college has worked tirelessly to achieve excellence, and I believe the outstanding Boilermakers in veterinary medicine have each played a key role in its success. Although we’ve made great progress, I am eager and excited to see the many accomplishments that are sure to come in the future. My sincerest thank-you to all I’ve worked with along the way.”


As one of his first acts as dean, Reed established the Office of Engagement to focus on the college’s scholarly engagement efforts and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to establish and model innovative practices that introduced diversity into the systems, structure and culture of the college and the veterinary profession. These offices have generated countless positive impacts, including educational and outreach initiatives for elementary students, scholarship initiatives, certificate programs and on-campus learning experiences, each with the aim of encouraging diversity and fostering a welcoming culture for all. 

Reed’s strategic planning initiatives culminated in the opening of the new David and Bonnie Brunner Purdue Veterinary Medical Hospital Complex in 2022. This complex expanded the college’s Small Animal Hospital and created new Equine and Farm Animal hospitals to replace the Large Animal Hospital. The stunning new facilities have enabled the college to grow its hospital services, expand delivery of the highest quality of veterinary medical care for animal patients, enhance clinical education for students, and advance veterinary and comparative medical research through clinical trials.

The new David and Bonnie Brunner Equine Hospital represents the college’s second equine hospital opened during Reed’s tenure. The first opened in 2017 in Shelbyville, Indiana, as a satellite facility. Located in proximity to the state’s two racetracks, the Caesars Entertainment Equine Specialty Hospital is especially suited to treat cases involving performance horses.

Reed’s leadership of the college also has improved Purdue DVM and veterinary nursing education through implementation of new approaches to clinical skills training and the use of innovative technology.

Reed has fostered growth in research programs, achieving record-level research funding in 2023 through expanded external support for scientific discovery that advances medicine for both animals and humans. Additionally, he spearheaded efforts that enhanced the teaching, clinical and research facilities in the Lynn Hall; increased the DVM class size by 20%; fostered successful recruitment of faculty members from around the globe in many disciplines; and significantly expanded the college’s global engagement programs.

In 2009 he led the college’s 50th anniversary with a year of celebratory programs and events.

In 2023 Reed’s many achievements were recognized when he was selected by the American Veterinary Medical Association as its inaugural recipient of the AVMA Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring his innovative leadership and contributions in supporting and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the veterinary profession. Additionally, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 2018, “for his powerful advocacy on behalf of groups underrepresented in veterinary medicine and for his leadership in veterinary medical education and research.”

Reed received his bachelor’s degree in animal and poultry science and his DVM degree from Tuskegee University. He earned his PhD in pathology from Purdue in 1982 and joined the College of Veterinary Medicine faculty as an assistant professor of veterinary pathology and diagnostician in the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL). He later became chief of the Avian Diseases Diagnostic Service. Board-certified as a specialist in veterinary pathology, Reed served eight years on the Purdue faculty. During that time, he was promoted to associate professor of avian pathology and named ADDL assistant director.

In 1990 Reed joined the Michigan State University faculty as a full professor and director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (previously the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory). He became a charter diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and was named chairperson of MSU’s Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation before returning to Purdue as dean in 2007.


Lucy Flesch, Purdue’s Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, will chair an advisory committee as follows to assist in the search for Reed’s successor:

  • Devon Anderson, DVM student, president, Student American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Candace Croney, professor of animal behavior and well-being and director of the Center for Animal Welfare Science
  • Matt Folk, Purdue alumnus and president & CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation
  • Lindsey Hedges, DVM, senior director of veterinary mentorship for Mission Veterinary Partners and president of Indiana Veterinary Medical Association
  • Kenitra Hendrix, clinical associate professor of veterinary diagnostic microbiology and director of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
  • Debbie Knapp, distinguished professor of comparative oncology, Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology, and director of the Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center
  • Diane Little, associate professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering (courtesy)
  • Ellen Lowery, clinical professor, chief veterinary officer and associate dean for hospital operations
  • Catharine Scott-Moncrieff, professor of small animal internal medicine and head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
  • Jay Wasson, Purdue alumnus and vice president for physical facilities

Candidate nominations (including self-nominations) are strongly encouraged and can be sent to

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