Michael Lairmore has announced that he will step down as dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine in June, after nearly 10 years in office. He will take a sabbatical, then resume his career as a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.
Lairmore joined the school in October 2011, coming here from Ohio State University. Among his first projects: developing a comprehensive strategic plan that has guided the school to tremendous progress during his two five-year terms as dean. The school is ranked No. 1 nationally by U.S. News & World Report and No. 1 globally in the QS World University Rankings.
He has prioritized student experiences and success, diversity and educational affordability. He oversaw the development of new student services, including mental health support through a new counseling and career service center, and enhanced fundraising while keeping fees stable to put UC Davis among the top three veterinary schools nationally for lowest student debt.
In research funding, UC Davis has led all veterinary schools in the nation every year that Lairmore has served as dean. The school posted $80 million in research expenditures in the most recent fiscal year.
Devoted to career and leadership development, he has supported new programs to enhance the careers of faculty, staff and student leaders. Working with campus and industry partners, he created innovation, entrepreneurship and business programs.
Veterinary Medical Center
Lairmore launched the $500 million Veterinary Medical Center campaign in 2018 to expand and transform the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The campaign has raised more than $100 million, and the first building, the Large Animal Support Facility, is already in use.
Meanwhile, under his leadership, the existing hospital has expanded services, infrastructure and clinical training programs to consistently rank at the top among all academic veterinary hospitals in reputation and patient visits. In addition, he established the first Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials.
He leads six academic departments and more than 30 organized units, including the One Health Institute and the Center for Comparative Medicine at UC Davis, the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center in the San Joaquin Valley and the UC Veterinary Medical Center in San Diego, and the UC Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension programs.
During Lairmore’s tenure, the school worked with the state Department of Food and Agriculture to expand and upgrade the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, in which UC Davis is a partner. The laboratories were instrumental in addressing the virulent Newcastle disease virus and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow) outbreaks in California.
Lairmore established an Office of Global Programs to expand educational and research opportunities for students and faculty worldwide, in addition to expanding research collaborations across the campus.
Expanded research support
Lairmore also has led efforts to expand research support, in part through construction and renovation projects, including the new Vet Med 3B building, allowing scientists to work together in the same space.
The school also increased infrastructure and academic support for the One Health Institute, which has received more than $200 million to lead global, multi-institutional programs. The institute has become a world-leading organization in understanding zoonotic disease transmission, wildlife conservation, workforce development and studies of factors that influence global pandemics.
The PREDICT program, led by the institute, identified Marburg and ebolavirus in bats ahead of potential outbreaks, including identifying a new ebolavirus in bats roosting in people’s houses.
Lairmore has served in key national leadership positions, most recently as president of the Association of American Veterinary Colleges and as a member of the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils.
He serves on UC Davis’ Diversity and Inclusion Executive Leadership Team, and, under his guidance, the School of Veterinary Medicine has implemented numerous initiatives to increase the diversity of its staff, faculty and student body — becoming one of the top three veterinary schools in the nation for student diversity.
Lairmore is one of the few veterinarians who is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He holds two doctoral degrees: one in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and the other in experimental pathology from Colorado State University.
He is board-certified in anatomic pathology and virology and immunology. He is a scientist who bridges multiple disciplines to address basic questions related to viral causes of cancer, and his research has provided significant breakthroughs in the biology of human retroviruses and the understanding of viral-associated carcinogenesis.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan said she will commence a national recruitment for a new dean in the fall.