LORIN WARNICK: I have two goals today, and the first is to give you an update on some of the things that have happened in the college this past year-- give you a sense of where we're at. The second is to introduce our new strategic plan. And in each case, my presentation will really be a preview. In the case of the college performance, we'll have an annual report coming out in the next Scopes magazine, where you can read in more detail about some of the things I'll mention. And for the strategic plan-- on the home page of the college, there's now a link to the document that covers the strategic plan, and I'll come back to that in a minute.
So we're a community of over 1,000 employees and approximately 600 students, and we're engaged in veteran and graduate education, biomedical research, animal veterinary care, human health, public outreach, and engagement. I see many of you are finding yourself in the group photo we did for the holiday card. And our strength is truly in the people that make up the community and the dedication and skill that each of you brings to your respective responsibilities.
Our physical facilities span about 125 buildings on 550 acres. And after years of planning and construction, it's great to be in this space and have these new lecture halls-- the new atrium, other teaching space. And I feel this is already contributing to a sense of community in the college as people are getting together for lunch and at other times and using the new space. And I know it's created a lot of excitement among alumni, parents, and others who have visited the colleges recently, and people are just very wowed by the facilities.
So it's worth looking back 18 months. June 2016-- this was just a month after I was appointed as dean after serving as interim, and this is taken from I think the window out of Dr. Irby's office. And you can see that we've come a long ways in the interim, and this is that view from about the same spot. So naturally, a project this size-- there's still a lot to finish up. The contractors are working through a punch list of items that still need to be completed.
Also, the community practice service is under construction. The new building will be opening in the spring of 2018. And then out at the Teaching Dairy, we have another project going on where we're putting in a sand separation system, and that should be operational in early 2018.
Besides all that, we're also laying the groundwork, setting up the funding, and beginning planning to do some further renovation in parts of Sherman Hall that weren't touched by this project and to create more usable space there. And we'll provide more information about that as we get closer to those projects. So we'll have construction going on for a while, but it's certainly great to have all of this finished or nearing completion. And I want to thank Wayne Davenport publicly and his team for all the work they've done.
So you can imagine this is a very complex project to renovate as we're using the space and handle all the moves and logistics related to that, and they've done that with a great job and a great sense of humor. I also want to thank everybody in the community who's been impacted by the construction and for your patience and support during this project. And we also want to recognize the support from New York State and from donors who helped provide the funding for this. We'll have a formal opening ceremony, and this will be next May-- is that right, Kevin-- and so you'll see information coming out about that, where we'll recognize all who were a part of making this possible.
So besides the move into the new facilities, the college has been busy this past year in many other ways, and I want to just name a few examples. So one is we just completed our AVMA Council on Education site visit. This is a very important process for the college to keep our accreditation for the DVM education program, and it was also an opportunity for us to do a self-evaluation. And in doing that, it really helped identify a number of areas where we can improve and where we're working on those. We won't know the determination of the Council on Education until next March when they hold their annual meeting, but one thing I can share is the site visit team had their wrap up meeting-- they were very complimentary about the quality of interactions they had with everybody at the college and how forthcoming and transparent everyone they met with was and providing information they needed.
Another major item this past year-- our college, under the leadership of associate dean Alex Travis, launched Cornell's new Master of Public Health degree. This is a major milestone for the university and one that we're very proud of as a college to have been part of. And they admitted the inaugural class this fall, so thanks to all of the faculty who have worked so hard to get that in place.
Our hospitals had their highest clinical caseload in revenue ever, with CUHA having over 25,000 patient visits this last fiscal year. The ambulatory clinic saw over 50,000 animals out on farms-- 35 mile radius around the college. The Cornell University veterinary specialists had over 12,000 patient visits, and clinicians saw over 1,000 horses at the Ruffian Clinic on Long Island. Besides all that, the hospital is well into a rigorous process to select a new electronic medical records system, and I've been very impressed with the professionalism that that's being done with and look forward to having a great implementation step in this coming year. The animal health diagnostic center processed over 200,000 accessions, and they've had a terrific year over year growth this year and high demand for their tests.
On another front, faculty submitted 294 grants in the last fiscal year. And extramural funding is a very competitive environment, but it is on an upward trajectory, so we're very happy to see that. I'll talk in more detail about that in a minute. We held the first ever animal health hackathon, and this is an entrepreneurship and innovation event for students. We had students from across campus, including over 30 veterinary students, and this was a really terrific event. We'll hold the next one in January 2018. You'll see on the monitors around information about signing up for that.
Faculty and staff from the college took the lead in organizing three cross campus symposium focused on comparative cancer research, anti-microbial resistance, and RNA biology, with RNA symposium being held later this week. And so we're very happy to see the college being involved in building these new bridges with Weill Cornell Medicine. We welcomed 120 new veterinary students in the class of 2021, 47 new graduate students to the college this fall, and this followed a lot of work in terms of faculty recruitment, hiring many other preparations to prepare for the larger DVM class size and the new degree program.
We participated with the City University in Hong Kong in admitting their first class into a Bachelor's of Veterinary Medicine degree program, and this is the first professional veterinary education program in Hong Kong. And they received reasonable assurance for accreditation from the Australasian Veterinary Board's council, which is equivalent to our COE, so a great deal of progress in that program. We filled leadership positions in the college-- Dr. Jodi Koritch as Associate Dean for Education, Dr. Bob Weiss as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education-- and thanks to Dr. Wagner for her service in that role previously-- Dr. Paul Soloway as chair of the Department of Medical Sciences, and Dr. Bettina Wagner as chair of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences starting Friday. And looking forward to having her in that role, and thank Craig Altier and Dr. Roberson for their service as chairs.
Throughout the year, we held focus group discussions with recently graduated DVM alumni at six national and regional continuing education conferences. And these have been very important events to learn about the experiences of our recent graduates and to get their input on things we should be doing in the program to help future graduates prepare. Thanks to the work of Alumni Affairs and Development, new gifts and commitments to the college totaled this past year just under $21 million. And this was our third highest fundraising year ever, so a tremendous accomplishment.
And finally, we completed a one year strategic planning process that included two retreats to town hall meetings, surveys, numerous small group discussions, and a great deal of effort, and I think it's produced a good roadmap for the future. So as I was making this list, I could have gone on and on. There's just a lot that has been done and accomplished in the college, and I want to thank and recognize all of you for your efforts to make that possible. So I want to give you a little more detail on four topics, and then I'll turn to the strategic plan.
So the first of these is college finances-- trends in research funding, employment of our DVM graduates, and graduate student enrollment. So on finances, the college funding can be thought of broadly in two categories-- capital funding for facilities and operating funds. The capital funds come mostly from New York State, but also includes support from private donors.
The operating revenue comes from a variety of sources shown here. It includes the funding through the State University of New York, where we have four state supported colleges at Cornell. We're one of the four and get part of that funding. It includes hospital and animal health diagnostic center service revenue, includes gifts an endowment earnings. We get some support from the University for strategic initiatives and other programs, and we have tuition from our degree programs and from the-- though we don't admit undergraduate students, we have many faculty who teach an undergraduate program, and we get a portion of the tuition as a result of that.
So it's important to recognize that this funding comes in ways where it's not really exchangeable. So the funding for this new building did not compete with operating funds of the collage, and in fact, should save us some operating funds, because we really took down old buildings, replaced them with new, which will be more energy efficient and so on. And we're very fortunate that it didn't require borrowing to put in these facilities, so that's great for the college. And we're very appreciative of the support of the state of New York and, of course, the donors who helped make it possible. So that's revenue.
A couple of things to note-- you'll see that if you focused on the SUNY base state appropriations up in the corner, that's Cornell-wide, and we get about 35 million of that. And you'll notice there was a jump in 2013 and 2014. That was just a budgeting change in how the funds are distributed, not a real increase. In fact, this funding has been flat over some time.
On the expense side, we are just kind of laying out the different categories for which the money is used, but I just really want to make the point that staff faculty salaries account for about half of the total expenses for the college. And the university assesses 25 million, or about 15%, 16% of our total budget. That's our share of the overhead costs for the university. And then just looking at it a little different way of looking at it by function-- the instruction students support about 35 million-- 20% of the budget. A lot of the expenses are in the service units. A lot of the revenue comes there, but it also comes with costs.
And organized research-- about 20 million or 12 and 1/2%. I love this term organized research. I pick on Lynn about this-- the fact that we have organized research. I say, do we have disorganized research? And that's not the case. That's just the formal research funding that comes through external sources.
So in terms of trends, I pointed out-- there's that pointer visible there, perhaps-- we had this jump 2013 2014. That's really an artifact in how the money was accounted. But we've had been increasing these past couple of years, and that's been from service revenue, from some tuition increases, some entrepreneurial activity by the college, and so on. Overall, the college revenue exceeded expenses last year, so that's a good thing. But the way the money is distributed in the college results in us having a structural deficit at the center. So essentially, we've allowed reserves to accumulate in some of the units. That is for strategic reasons-- for example, in the hospital to pay for projects like the electronic medical record.
But this is something we do need to balance over time. If this were family finances, this would be as if the parents ran up a bill on the credit card so that their kids could put money in savings, all right? And that can only go on so long. So we're working diligently this year to address that structural deficit at the center, and we'll try to get over the next couple of years get that on a balanced budget going forward.
And then one part of the finances that I wanted to call out is our endowment currently has a market value of just over $200 million. And this is really critical funding for the college-- helps us pay for faculty positions in some cases. About a quarter of it goes to student aid need based scholarships and so on. Well, you're always working to grow this. This gives off revenue every year that is really important for our operating budget.
So I'm going to run through just a few more numbers here quickly. I wanted to give you a sense of what was happening in research. This slide is sponsored research direct cost expense, so this gives you a sense of the size of the research endeavor.
There's one thing that takes some explanation-- that you see a drop from 2017 to the 2018 plan. That's really based on a change in how the funding for the animal health diagnostic center from the state is categorized. So the parts the focus on are more the blue part of the bar that shows federal funding over time, and the fact is, this has been declining for a few years. You can see that it seems to have leveled off a bit. And the good thing, I think, relatively conservative projections this year shows that this should turn around. And you know, as I mentioned the faculty are putting a huge amount of effort into funding proposals.
I'll just have you focus on the total column. In fiscal year 2013, 234 proposals submitted college-wide. Last fiscal year, this was 294. Now this is a metric that in the future we would like to see go down rather than up, because this is taking a huge amount of work to obtain the same amount of research funding. And so a lot of uncertainty at the federal level right now, but there does seem to be bipartisan support for at least maintaining the major federal research funding sources.
And I also wanted to highlight that a real asset this college has compared to a lot of our peers is a very strong internal grants program. And so if you just look at the total for 2016, about $1.6 million distributed and about half the proposals funded. So this is very important for resident training, provide seed money, pilot projects to get external funding, and so on. And I appreciate the work of the College Research Council, who does tremendous amount of work in reviewing proposals and distributing these funds.
Now, just a note on education-- so I like every year to look at what our most recent graduating class has done. And you'll see we label this career interest, because this is not where they end up four or five months after graduation, but where they intend to go right at the time of graduation. And this past year, we've been running about 50% of the students going directly into internships. Last year, that was just below 40%.
And you'll see that small animal practice interest accounts for about 2/3 of the veterinary graduates, 20% large animal, and then the remainder in other interest areas. This 2/3 small animal-- that's been relatively stable over a number of years. And so we have an interest in the college in maintaining strong interest in food animal production and diverse careers, but I think it's good to have a sense of where our graduates' interests lie.
How are they doing after graduation? For those new to the college, college tradition is for our graduates to carry these rectal sleeves out on to the graduation ceremony. We usually don't go into too much detail about what that's all about. So every year, the AVMA administers an exit survey. And if you just look at 2017, the percentage of our graduates with jobs-- this could have been internship, residency, or private practice, but some secure next step-- was 90%, and this has been going up the last few years. Tends to run higher than the national average. And one other point to make about this-- if you follow the graduates out a few more weeks and months-- the class of 2017, for example, had 100% of the class employed essentially by the end of the summer.
Now, it has taken a while, but this year, that actually translated into higher salaries. And so the average salary for graduates going into private practice was just shy of $80,000. So the veterinary economy seems to lag about two years behind the rest of the economy, but the indications are now that-- at least in companion animal practice-- that job opportunities are quite good, and there's a lot of growth in that area. So that's really good to see in terms of our graduate placement.
And I did also want to recognize-- we focus a lot on the DVM education program. It's kind of the core enterprise of the college. But we do educate many other students in many different disciplines, and this shows about 150 graduate students in PhD programs, and that includes 24 veterinarians seeking PhDs. We have dual degree students, 15 MPH students this year, and 10 in a new Master's of Professional Studies program. And one thing to note is in career placement for the PhD students, it's good to focus on the variety. Many of our PhD graduates do go into academia, which is a desirable goal, but they do take positions in industry government, other settings. And so I think it's been great to have things like the BEST program that's helping to educate or prepare students for those various careers.
So let me just summarize a bit. As I said, watch for more details in the college annual report coming out in the near future. If I were to summarize the state of the college, we're doing really very well. We have excellent faculty and staff. We have engaged and motivated students. We have this wonderful new facility, albeit a little challenging to talk to people on both sides of the room, but a wonderful new facility, good support from state and private donors. And we're having a major impact on animal health, public health-- and this is through our clinical and diagnostic programs and biomedical research. So many, many great success stories to tell for the college.
We face challenges, of course. There's a lot of uncertainty in government funding right now. If you've been reading the news, the New York State budget planning was described as uncertain as any time in history because of being dependent on what happens at the federal level. We have rapidly changing veterinary services market. Just when we think we know what's going on, there's new developments in consolidation and practices, telemedicine, lots of things coming down the pike that we need to be prepared for. We need updating on some of our 1957 facilities. As much renovation as we've done, there's still some remaining, and we have evolving needs for wellness and community support.
So I want to shift now and show you just a few highlights from the college's strategic plan and talk about how we're going to address some of those challenges and also take advantage of new opportunities. So in our strategic planning process, we had a number of committees working in various topic areas, and I really appreciate all the engagement of everyone who got involved with that and developed literally hundreds of great ideas. We had a wrap up retreat to try to prioritize those and pick the ones that we thought were the most important to focus on. We had a writing committee that has developed three documents. One is the external plan posted on the web today. There will be an executive summary of that plan coming soon that will be in a printed format-- sort of an at a glance approach-- and then there will be an internal plan that will be our guiding document for administration so we can tag how we're doing and progressing.
So the theme that we chose to frame our strategic plan for the next five years is solving the world's most pressing health challenges. And we divided the initiatives that were developed into six areas-- and I'll introduce each of these in turn-- but the first in educational innovation and career readiness, the second, business and entrepreneurship, third, transformative research, and fourth, advances in animal, human, and ecosystem health. The fifth is health begins here, meant to capture the idea that we will succeed as we create a diverse, engaged, and continuously learning community. And the sixth is strengthening our foundation, which is paying attention to all those infrastructure elements that are critical to our success.
I'll run through these. For each of them, I picked out just two or three elements that I want to highlight here. So the first is in educational innovation and career readiness. So the college has a really strong educational program already, and we're recognized for having the case-based learning, for having great breadth in our clinical programs, and so on. But we've felt in the planning process that we really have an opportunity to raise this to the next level by supporting faculty to introduce more active learning approaches into the curriculum and to have that impact more of our courses. And so Dr. Coritch is working with her team to develop the educational technology support to do this. She and Dr. Edmondson will work on faculty development approaches to really give our faculty the tools to implement their educational goals, and I think this will be a very impactful part of our plan over the next two to three years.
The third thing noted here we called reinvent clinical rotations. And there's great work done in our clinical rotations as they are, but we've also been locked into a system that really developed at a time when we had fewer specialties, less specialized veterinary medicine, and different needs of the graduates and of the postgraduate trainees. So after the EMR project, then I'm hoping that the clinical faculty and others will take on this task of really evaluating and saying, can we set up our rotations in a different way? Can we connect them differently to the preclinical curriculum-- All with an aim of in improving the clinical preparedness of our graduates.
And then the fourth thing here is we have the new MPH program. We have aspirations for growth there, for developing dual degrees. For the masters of Professional Studies, we hope to expand the number of disciplines that can be offered through that program-- so a lot of I think exciting aspirations for the educational program.
The second area is business and entrepreneurship. And so our goal is to establish a Cornell center for veterinary entrepreneurship and innovation that would include faculty hires that have dual appointments in our college and in the new SC Johnson College of Business. And Dean Dutta has already met with us about this. He's enthusiastic about supporting this initiative. And I think this will give us something that we haven't had in the college, which is faculty dedicated to the business of veterinary medicine, who can do research in that area, and who can give our students evidence-based training that will help prepare them for practice ownership, practice management, and working in practice organizations. As we look at the landscape of what's happening in the veterinary profession, I think this will be a really impactful program for the college.
We also noted the goal of helping faculty move their ideas from discovery to application and supporting faculty entrepreneurship. And then the last-- and a very important point here-- is graduate financial independence. So we've set an initial goal in the college of increasing our endowed scholarships for DVM students by $10 million over five years. And we've set a goal of reducing the debt to starting salary ratio from where it is in recent years of about two to one down to 1.4 to one, which would be a much more healthy ratio. So that has a lot of factors in it. It has decreased debt, increased salaries, and so on, but I think it's achievable, and it's something that I believe is very important for us to commit to.
So let me just show you what's been happening. So I graduated from Colorado State in 1988-- three decades ago coming next spring. At that time, the national average debt to starting salary ratio was about one to one. In that three decades at Cornell, the median debt has grown over those years by a average increase of 6.4%. And so that conveyed all the factors contributing to that, but that's large growth compared to certainly where salaries went and what happened with cost of living over the same time period. So we in the college-- I felt like we started to focus on this more intensively and about just after the recession looking at that very steep increase in student debt that followed as families and individuals had fewer resources-- and have worked since that time to constrain tuition growth to a amount lower than what is done for the university at large-- so trying to not be above 3 and 1/2% or 4%.
Since then-- and also with some improvement in the economy-- It's been good to see that the median debt for our students has actually gone down a bit. And so this gives me hope that if we continue to pay attention to this, we can make progress. The other thing I want to point out about this is that we talk about the medians and means a lot, but it's really about the individual student and graduate experience. And so it's very important that we focus on especially those individuals who need to borrow high amounts relative to the mean and help develop strategies to try to prevent that.
And this just shows you from AVMA data how the distribution of debt amongst our students compared to the national average. We're actually-- compared to the national scene-- in a relatively good starting point, but I'd like to do better. And a very important part of that, as I mentioned, is DVM student scholarships. We've been growing this over time already. We want to accelerate that growth in the future. And thanks to the people in the development office, we really had some great gifts this past year focused on student scholarships and gifts that took advantage of the matching program at the university.
Transformative research-- I'll just mention one aspect of this and leave the rest to be read in the document, but the University as a whole, as you know, has the provost initiatives radical collaboration around genomics, data sciences, sustainability, and so on. So one of our main goals in the near future will be to align our faculty hiring with those university initiatives and to where possible recruit mid-career scientists who have established laboratories that they bring with them to the college. And we've had some success in that already and hope to continue.
Animal, human, and ecosystem health spans a broad category, but it spans what we hope to do in the hospital and our other diagnostic and clinical service areas where we model the best that's available in terms of technology client communication, collaboration with referring veterinarians, and so on-- implement those in our programs and use that as a teaching laboratory for our students. This also encompasses our international partnerships with City University, in India, in Japan, and others.
And lastly, very importantly, this initiative around Wildlife Health Cornell and Planetary Health. And Cornell-- really, the college specifically and the university as a whole-- has great strength in wildlife conservation and wildlife health. And I think as Dr. Osofsky and others have worked this past year to bring those activities under one umbrella, it really highlights the strength we have here and the impact we can have nationally and internationally.
The next topic I want to give a little more attention to that's health begins here. And one of our top priorities in the new strategic plan will be to strengthen our college community and to provide our graduates with the skills that they need to have successful and rewarding careers in what can often be very challenging environments. And serving as dean, one of the things I really come to recognize the many personal challenges faced by our community-- and this ranges from individual health problems, caring for elderly parents, the work and stress of challenging degree programs, time demands of working in a 24/7 hospital environment, and all these things can be very challenging. It's been gratifying to see the level of mutual support offered in this community. I think it's really remarkable and something that's quite inspiring, and I'm confident in each individual's ability to overcome the challenges we face, but I also think there's more we can do collectively to help with that process.
So in finalizing the strategic plan, I met with students, staff, and faculty who had been active in wellness initiatives in the college. And I wanted to discuss with them two things-- one is what could we do in the very near term, and what should we do over the next few years? And I really thank everybody who's been involved with that. This has been in the student wellness initiative, the peer support network, the student peer mentors, and many others. And so I want to mention several things that we'll be doing on this, first in terms of organization.
In addition to the DVM student wellness initiative, we formed a college wellness steering committee that will be chaired by Associate Dean Fubini and Assistant Dean Edmondson, and it will have members representing faculty, staff, DVM students, graduate students, post-doctoral associates, residents, and trying to bring the community together to get more synergy between the various efforts. This committee won't replace the student wellness initiative, it will intersect with it. Second thing on organization is we'll be working on a website-- I'm looking at Len Johnson-- that as quickly as feasible will populate this with the activities around wellness to get better information, prevent duplication, and to get the most out of each of those activities. So that's organization.
Second thing is facilities. There's a need for space for breaks, for the exercise activity, and so on. For now, what was the temporary library in Sherman Hall first floor can be used for that purpose. When we renovate in Sherman Hall, we have a room dedicated that we'll fit out to use for those kind of programs. We'll also look around the rest of the college to see what we can do for breaks for the hospital community and others to improve that aspect.
Third thing is access to counseling and mental health services. There's no easy answer here when it comes to-- the Cornell Health Center has a great staff and program but also a lot of demand But I do think that there's some changes we can make that will help, and one of those-- we need to start right away to make sure we have a culture where it is OK for students and staff to be able to get away from clinical service job responsibilities and so on for doctors appointments, work breaks, and all that without a negative stigma. And as I talk to different people in the community, we do have a real communication gap around this issue. And so I challenge all of us to break that down and create a more healthy communication path for identifying needs and meeting them.
And then finally, I've approved filling a position to support wellness and resilient education and to help support all our community wellness initiatives. We have some work to do in terms of defining the exact role of that person-- the credentials and so on-- but this is something that the student wellness initiative recommended strongly, and I think we can move on that and do it in a way that it will be very beneficial for our community. So that's on wellness.
I wanted to mention one thing on professional development and growth. One of the things that came up repeatedly in the strategic planning process was some uncertainty about whether we're using faculty titles in the best way to match our programmatic needs and so on. And it's not something that we could get to the bottom of or solve entirely in the planning, but it will have a working group that takes that on over the beginning after the first of the year and make some recommendations.
And then the last initiative is in strengthening our foundation, and we'll be doing some things there related to IT infrastructure. We have a new director of VMIT which will help in this area in facilities. Communication and engagement-- one of the things that was loud and clear in the planning process was the need for more internal communication about what different parts of the college is doing, so we'll tackle that.
And then on stewardship and resources-- one of the things we're making a lot of progress on is in energy utilization in our complex. And we're investing in areas where we can get a quick turnaround on utilities costs, and this is a win-win all around. And then we have some other financial stewardship programs that we'll be working on that are outlined in the internal strategic plan.
So in summary, the college has a very strong legacy, and that's terrific. We all benefit from that. But more important is what we do now, this next year, the next five years, the next 10 years, to achieve excellence in all our missions-- education, research, and service. And I very much look forward to working with all of you to develop the implementation plans that will go with the strategic plan and to make sure that we reach as many of these goals that we've set for ourselves as possible.
And with that, I thank you for being here, and I really appreciate that you attended today. And I think we may have a class coming in soon, but I might have time for just a couple of questions. So thank you very much.
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Dr. Lorin D. Warnick, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, unveiled the College’s new strategic plan to the community in his annual State of the College address on November 29, 2017. Under the theme,
Solving the World’s Most Pressing Health Challenges, the new plan was developed with input from every corner of the College and represents the views and voices from faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends.