UC Davis Appoints New Dean of Veterinary Medicine

Mark Stetter Comes From Colorado State University

Quick Summary

  • Cites complementary experience in leadership, animal care
  • Former director of animal operations at Walt Disney World
  • Studies minimally invasive surgery in non-domestic species

The Office of the Provost issued the following announcement today (Aug. 10):

The University of California, Davis today (August 10) named Mark Stetter, dean and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, as the new dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). He will officially step into the position on October 18.

Mark Stetter
Mark Stetter

“The School of Veterinary Medicine, a widely recognized world leader in its field, exemplifies veterinary education, research, and care — and UC Davis — at their best,” said Mary Croughan, provost and executive vice chancellor. “It was critical for us to find a new dean who could carry on and advance the school’s stellar legacy. We are very fortunate that Dr. Stetter has agreed to serve in this critical leadership position.” 

Stetter replaces John Pascoe, who has served as interim dean since July 1, when Michael Lairmore stepped down after nearly 10 years as dean. Croughan has expressed her deep gratitude for Pascoe’s skilled interim service and Lairmore’s decade of distinguished leadership at SVM. 

A Strong Blend of Academic and Corporate Experience

Stetter comes to his new position with extensive and varied experience, and distinguished accomplishments, both in veterinary medicine and leadership. His areas of research and treatment expertise are diverse within his primary emphasis on wildlife and zoo animals.

Stetter earned both his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He interned at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and served as a resident in zoological medicine at The Wildlife Conservation Society.

From 2012 to the present, Stetter has been dean and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. His significant contributions there have been numerous and transformative. He helped drive the creation of a new medical education program in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine; worked with the provost’s office to create a university-wide One Health Initiative; established a new DVM education program with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks; and helped launch numerous Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. In addition, he was instrumental in the college raising over $370 million for new buildings, student scholarships, endowed positions, and research programs, among other uses.

Immediately prior to his arrival at Colorado State, he served as director of animal operations, director of animal health, and clinical veterinarian at Walt Disney World from 1997 to 2012. He provided oversight and leadership to the animal care and animal health teams at Walt Disney World and was responsible for more than 500 employees and multiple animal collections, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, The Living Seas at EPCOT, Tri-Circle D Ranch, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge. During this time, Dr. Stetter also helped Disney establish and grow their international in-situ conservation efforts.

“My experiences at Colorado State and Disney World provided me with an excellent foundation for the role of dean at UC Davis,” Stetter commented. “But in complementary ways, each gave me a uniquely valuable opportunity to care for animals, grow my veterinary expertise, and learn how to lead large and complex organizations.”

Dr. Stetter’s research interests have included advancing minimally invasive surgery in non-domestic species and have included work on a variety of different animals including fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

His work has resulted in over a hundred scientific publications and conference presentations. His writings have often focused on diseases and treatments pertaining to elephants, crocodiles, gorillas, frogs, monkeys, rhinoceroses, and many other species. 

His Vision for the School

As dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Stetter will have responsibility not only for education and research at the school, but also for strategic planning, management and administration, external affairs, and outreach and development, among other core functions. 

“I am really excited about this next chapter in my professional career,” Stetter said. “UC Davis has exceptional programs, and I’m looking forward to working across the school, campus, and larger community to enhance our mission and impact. The ability to work with so many dedicated and distinguished colleagues and students really makes this opportunity irresistible.”

He plans to spend much of his time during his first months on campus building relationships and growing his knowledge of SVM and UC Davis. He will, “on a grand scale,” schedule visits with faculty and staff in the school as well as with leaders across the university to hear their priorities, insights, and ideas.

While the specific goals and objectives he will set for the school will depend greatly on what he learns from these visits and continuing collaborations, he comes with some ideas. “I have several overarching priorities,” he said. “They are: Maintaining and advancing SVM’s high excellence; Continuing the school’s significant contributions to society and the planet; Promoting an environment in which every member of our community feels included and respected; and Fostering a work climate and culture in which our faculty, staff, and students can be at their best while simultaneously enjoying all that a productive life has to offer.”

“Besides his extraordinary scientific expertise and leadership ability,” said Croughan, “Dr. Stetter brings a unique perspective and set of experiences to his role as SVM dean. At the same time, he shares with our Aggie family a strong commitment to making the world a better place, for both animals and people. I look forward to seeing what he will accomplish at UC Davis in the coming years.”

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

The world-renowned UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine serves the people of California by providing educational, research, clinical service, and public service programs of the highest quality to advance the health and care of animals, the health of the environment, and public health, and to contribute to the economy.

It addresses the health of all animals, including livestock, poultry, companion animals, captive and free-ranging wildlife, exotic animals, birds, aquatic mammals and fish, and animals used in biological and medical research. Its expertise also encompasses related human health concerns.

The school’s mission includes 28 research and clinical programs, including clinical referral services; diagnostic testing services; continuing education; extension; and community outreach.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is ranked number one among veterinary schools nationally by both US News & World Report and QS World University Rankings, and number two in the world by QS. It is currently in a campaign to fundraise $500 million for a new Veterinary Medical Center.

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  • Craig Buckwald is a writer and media advisor in the Office of the Provost.

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