th e NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
UF veterinary college receives largest-ever private gift: approximately $6 million
from South Florida cattle ranchers' family estates
BY SARAH CAREY
he University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has received approximately $6 million from the estates of two South Florida
cattle ranch owners, Harriet Weeks and her daughter, Robin Weeks. The largest private gifts ever received by the college, the Weeks'
estate gifts are eligible for matching funds from the state of Florida major gifts trust fund, which would result in a total impact of $12
The gifts will be used to create an endowed chair in veterinary medicine and an endowed professorship in bovine medicine, as well as an
endowed fund to support teaching, research and programs at the college. UF veterinary administrators are excited about what the gifts mean to
the college's future, particularly in the area of bovine health, which is facing critical shortages in veterinary medicine in both the public and
private sectors. The bovine professorship may aid in attracting more students to this particular field, as well as enhance disease research in this
area, administrators say.
"In this time of decreasing state budgetary support, endowments are critical," said the college's dean, Glen Hoffsis, D.VM. "For our college
to receive two endowed positions simultaneously is just extraordinary."
A previous installment of $1 million from the Robin Weeks estate enabled the college to meet its $4 million private funding goal and to
obtain $57 million in state funding for a new small animal hospital.
The most recent gifts consist of $3.5 million from Robin Weeks' estate and $950,000 from the estate of Harriet Weeks. An additional gift of
approximately $500,000 is expected when the estates are totally settled.
"Harriet and Robin Weeks were both school teachers and part-time ranchers until Robin's father and brother passed away," said accountant
Robert Richardson, a trustee for the Weeks' estate. "Not wealthy people, the Weeks' sacrificed heavily to retain their land and to run a 300-head The .le Hm.rei .;nj RP.t.n vve-ek
cattle ranch. iPh.:,l.: : un-sy .f R.u.ern PR,: hr.- .:.- n
"Their family was not a typical one to make such a large bequest," he added. "Harriet and Robin made their decision because of their
commitment to Florida agriculture and love of small animals, as well as their desire to help veterinary students through education and research."
Dr. Mike McNulty, a mixed-animal practitioner and a member of the college's class of '83, was Robin Weeks' veterinarian and friend for
many years. McNulty worked with Weeks' four herds of Brangus cattle, advising her on health and production management.
"I'll never forget, a few years before she died, I was leaving her ranch late on a Saturday afternoon and I told her, 'I'm going to stop and get a
lottery ticket.' She immediately replied, 'you've already won the lottery."'
McNulty added, "I looked at her quizzically and she explained, 'with your education, you've already won the lottery.' She knew education
was a sure ticket, if not to wealth and riches, at least to a better life. I've never forgotten that afternoon and appreciate it greatly every time I
think about it."
Some time later, he shared with Weeks his intent to include the UF veterinary college in his own estate plans.
"I think that registered in her mind," he said, adding that a short time after Weeks became ill, she asked to meet with him at her home.
"She said she wanted me to give her some information about how to make a gift to the veterinary college," McNulty said. "I then put her in
touch with the college's development office and her plans unfolded from that point."
Harriet Weeks died in February 2005 and Robin Weeks died shortly thereafter. The majority of their estate assets consisted of agricultural
real estate in Glades County.
"I'm pleased that Dr. McNulty has remained so loyal to the college, and that he felt he received such a great veterinary education here," Ji Hi i ,e h. ,ih Dr ..
Hoffsis said. "He was able to use his education for his clients' benefit, and in doing so, helped the Weeks' create their legacy through these .: ,:a .ur, iell
substantial gifts." ,pn,,-,,- t. Saah C.rev.
Veterinaiy ophthalmologist gives prestigious Smith
Nlelnorial Lecture at British equine group meeting ,
STniversity of Florida veterinary ophthalmologist Dennis Brooks, D.VM., Ph.D., presented
.J the prestigious Sir Frederick Smith Memorial Lecture in Warwickshire, England kicking
off the annual meeting of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).
The lecture is named in honor of the late Sir Frederick Smith, a veterinarian who started the
British Army Veterinary Corp for cavalry horses in the late 1800s. He served in the British Army
in India and in South Africa. Smith was knighted and also became a Major General, and
performed research into equine laminitis, and general horse health.
"He even did some ophthalmology of the horse," Brooks said.
A professor in small and large animal clinical sciences at UF's College of Veterinary
Medicine, Brooks spoke to the British Equine Veterinary Association about the changing
medical standards of care in horses with ophthalmic problems, and the use of antiproteases in
treating infectious corneal ulcers in horses. He was seated next to Britain's Princess Anne
during the BEVA's awards presentation, and received a medal for his selection as the Smith
L I _Pr.i-.:.:.:.r.,v .i Dr D- T.i..n i Br.:-.:.i
Longtime CVM former faculty
member, radiologist dies
BY SARAH CAREY
D r. Norman Ackerman, a board-certified veterinary
radiologist and former faculty member at the
University of Florida College of Veterinary
Medicine, has died.
Known by his peers and friends as a quiet and humble man -
as well as a great teacher, Ackerman, 65, was a member of UF's
veterinary faculty from 1979 to 1994.
"Dr. Ackerman was one of our earliest faculty members and
a stalwart leader of our radiology service," said Dr. Colin
Burrows, who helped recruit Ackerman back to UF two years 1
ago to serve as a locum in the veterinary college's radiology Dr. Norm roman
service. Dr. Norm Ackerman
"A new generation of students and clinicians were able to appreciate his skills," Burrows
said. "He was a universally revered radiologist and the profession is poorer for his passing."
A 1966 graduate of Auburn University's School of Veterinary Medicine, Ackerman served
for three years as base veterinarian for the United States Air Force in Japan and in Thailand. He
completed his residency in radiology at the University of Missouri and later served as an
assistant professor of radiology on the veterinary school faculties at the University of Missouri
and the University of California, Davis prior to coming to UF.
He was a professor of veterinary radiology and had served as chief of the college's radiol-
ogy service when he left UF in 1994. He subsequently practiced in Louisville, Ky. and in
"Dr. Ackerman was one of the reasons I went into veterinary radiology," said Dr. Clifford
"Kip" Berry, a 1984 graduate of the UF veterinary college. "Just after my residency when I
came back and taught at UF for a year, he prepared me for the oral board examination, which I
passed, and protected me so that I could do the appropriate research for a tenure track posi-
"He was great pillar in my life and was a fatherly figure to me," Berry added. "There is
nothing that I can say that would ever truly express my appreciation for his help and what he
did for me, or my admiration for him."
Ackerman became board certified as a Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary
Radiology in 1974 and also was a member of the Radiological Society of North America, the
American Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Zeta and the Association of Military Surgeons.
"Dr. Ackerman was a highly respected member of the ACVR," said Dr. Tod Drost, the
group's current president and an associate professor at The Ohio State University's College of
Veterinary Medicine. Drost is a 1991 graduate of the UF veterinary college.
"He was one of the pillars of ACVR and respected as a great diagnostic radiologist. Even
after he left UF, he continued to work in the clinic there and elsewhere when needed. Anytime
the clinic was short of people, he helped."
Drost said Ackerman had coauthored two editions of a textbook, "Small Animal Radiology
and Ultrasonography," with Ron Burk.
"My colleagues and I never refer to the title of the book, we just always call it 'Burk and
Ackerman,'" Drost said.
"People do say that, or they call it Ackerman and Burk, because 'A is before 'B,'" said
Crispin Spencer, D.VM., a former UF veterinary college faculty member and board-certified
veterinary radiologist who worked closely with Ackerman for many years while at UF.
Spencer said Ackerman's name "nearly always ended up first" on almost every list of any
committee or group he ever belonged to, because of its spelling.
"There were not very many veterinary radiologists at all when Norm first became board
certified in 1974," Spencer said. "At that time, he was one of the most revered radiologists in
the country. Everybody knew of his skill and dedication to the profession. It was quite a feat to
have him end up at Florida."
In 15 years they worked together at UF, Spencer said he and Ackerman grew together as
clinicians, seeing many of the same cases.
"You work with someone every day, day in and day out, and go to professional meetings
together, you almost start to think alike," Spencer said. "In some ways, it's like being married."
But he added, "In all the time we knew each other, we never had a cross word."
Spencer said Ackerman was a kind and concerned teacher dedicated to writing and
publishing clinically pertinent material for the student, the practitioner and his radiological
"He was "100 percent behind the students and their getting an excellent education,"
Spencer said. "He might have come across sometimes as being a little tough on them, but the
truth was, he just really wanted the students to develop excellence."
Behind the scenes, the private and reserved Ackerman, who was also an accomplished
photographer and an avid reader, was known to have a quick and dry wit. He could be unusu-
ally kind and unexpectedly generous in his dealings with friends and colleagues.
Monica Merlo, D.VM., owner of Merlo Veterinary Imaging, Essex, U.K., relayed an
experience she had with Ackerman when she was a young veterinarian living in Italy back in
"I was visiting the U.S. for a couple of months and I remember reading his book and
thinking, maybe I should visit him," Merlo recalled. "I was sure he would refuse, as he did not
know me. There was no e-mail at the time in Italy, so I wrote to him and was very surprised
when he accepted immediately. At that time, he and his family had just relocated to Kentucky.
When months later, I finally made my trip, he was not only willing to have me visit, his family
also gave me hospitality in their home."
Merlo spent two weeks with the Ackerman family.
"It was a great experience," she said. "I was really grateful for what he did for me."
Ackerman had extensive experience in MRI and CT scanning, and in addition to his
textbook, authored or coauthored numerous scientific articles in the field of veterinary
He is survived by his wife, Lourdes Corman, M.D., of Huntsville and two children.
CVM faculty, students show off
knowledge. Gator spirit at "Foot Bowl"
Slho\ i eiicli cIpI.IC l' I IIIol I I :I. \\ell : ; leirnil ficutI Il floni ihe LIF (ollc Leof
Velen.lllN Medlicine's I le IIIIn;il clInc;I l C .IscilllC- dep.]ili Ic l. ;itllOll' \\ llh s'\ iNrell
Slc niii' studentcii p;. rticip:Iled ll hI Iliaciiulal "'Fool Bo\\ I" ;is pnr of the InlciteI-
lioil Eqluini Confeiccc'll on Laniillijil.s and DIs.n';lse.i of llie Fool. hlid in Palmi Be;icli
The confrenceisj l ointl effort in ol\ in LI UF. lle LiUmell'Il of P;'ennsIhI\ li
School of \;lcran r Mledicine ;iiind The OIuo Sia l L\1 1'rsiN CollCc of \'lcmniin
The FooI Bo\\ I \\i I billed is. in lelcolle'21ke L ~iue of c tlic;llion and fulln, and
accoidin to the'.e LIF ipaliciptai.ls. fuain ideed Is lid'l ie h el Ie n' tii d On l t to be
Frii. llhi lI.:.r.- L'r "i'. .J .-:.:.iC. l"r Ii.:.- lP.:.rlr C'r .:ril. -:_ I. I. ,i.:.
l"r n.rl .l- : "I_ .r, l"r h.:.- -. i .i.-.n V.l.. -Ir -.I ...: LI I.r.r _:r .: r J r_ii ," 1 .-1 I.h l. .-..J E r. F. .ri.4_
_ in,,_ l.r,:, :ll'l. ll-, I i i r II.
P rw .1. ~l :I r I. ilri I .-.r I h.r Ilr I, ri. I I I h r r.:.l h.:- l l- l jjr : : rl I I-q I.:. ll. I ,- l I : :
UF CVM researcher: Beachgoers who stay high and dry may also stay healthier
Attention snowbirds and spring breakers: Beachgoers who stay high and dry may have
healthier fun in the sun than those frolicking on wet sand or in the water, according to a
University of Florida veterinary researcher.
"Our objective was to understand whether beach sand could pose a health risk to
beachgoers," said Tonya D. Bonilla, a graduate student in the UF College of Veterinary
Medicine's department of infectious diseases and pathology who studied three South Florida
beaches over a two-year period to see whether human health risks appear to increase based on
the level of sand exposure.
\\lu \\ c found was that there was no increased health risk due to exposure to sand on the
upper beach," Bonilla said. "However, the longer the period of time people spent in the water
and in the wet sand, the higher the probability that they would experience some gastrointesti-
Bonilla's research was conducted at Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hollywood Beach and Hobie
Beach. There were 882 respondents who participated in the pilot epidemiological study and
609 who participated in the control group.
Beachgoers were made aware of the study and, if willing to participate, were given a survey
form to complete four days after their beach visit. The questionnaire focused on type and
duration of beach activity and inquired whether participants became ill during the four days
after the beach visit. The control group consisted of people randomly chosen from the general
population who had not visited a beach in at least nine days.
Jay M. Fleisher, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at
Nova Southeastern University, analyzed the epidemiological data collected in the study.
"Our findings suggest that there is an increased risk of acquiring gastroenteritis the longer
a bather either sits in the wet sand or stays in the water," Fleisher said. "The probability that an
individual will become sick increases over expected non-exposure rates from six out of 1000
people for a 10-minute exposure to approximately 12 out of 100 people for a two-hour stay in
the wet sand."
"For exposure to water, these rates increase from seven out of 1000 people affected over
expected non-exposure rates for a 10- minute stay to approximately seven out of 100 people
exposed for a 70-minute stay," Fleisher added. "Both show a clear dose response relationship
in risk with increasing time of exposure. These estimates of increased risk might seem small
Veterinary anesthesia technician joins elite ranks
with national certification
A University of Florida veterinary anesthesia technician has become the first UF veterinary
technician, and only the second in the state, to receive certification in this specialty by
the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists.
Terry Torres, an employee of UF's Veterinary Medical Center, learned in December that she
had passed her certification examination. For her, the process was a way to validate 20 years of
experience as an animal anesthetist.
"Specialty certification should allow technicians to advance up the career ladder," Torres
said. "It definitely has promoted interest from the rest of the staff, and we have another
technician applying to take the 2009 examination."
Applicants must have at least 6,000 hours of experience as a certified veterinary technician,
with 75 percent of that time spent providing anesthesia. To be considered for the certification
process, applicants must also have amassed at least 40 hours of continuing education relating
to anesthesia over a five-year span, and must submit a case log of 50 or more anesthesia cases
as well as four detailed case reports.
but when one considers how many people use
this beach in the course of a year, we can end
up with a substantial public health problem."
While fecal indicator levels in the near-
shore waters of South Florida's recreational
beaches are routinely monitored, sand
samples from the surf zone the wet sand -
and the upper beach are not. Beach sand may
become contaminated by gull droppings and
other sources of fecal-derived organisms that
then diffuse into wet sand and water, said
Bonilla, whose research was published in the
Marine Pollution Bulletin. Her work, part of
her master's thesis work at Nova Southeastern
University, was funded by a grant from the
Environmental Protection Agency. She has
continued her water-quality work at UF, where
she is pursuing her doctoral degree.
Her former mentor, Andrew Rogerson, Tonya Bonilla
PhD., a professor of biology who is now at
Marshall University in West Virginia, is a study co-author Their findings suggest water is an
important factor for pathogen transmission.
"At this point, we don't know whether the increased health risk is due to pathogen expo-
sure," Bonilla said. "To really understand this, a more comprehensive and targeted epidemio-
logical approach is needed."
Helena Solo-Gabriele, Ph.D., a professor of environmental engineering at the University of
Miami and a collaborator in the National Science Foundation's Oceans and Human Health
Center, is working on understanding how fecal indicator levels correlate with pathogen levels
in her own research. Her work primarily focuses on environmental measurements, specifically
of microbial indicators in water.
In addition to evaluating the potential human health effects of microbes from beach sands,
Bonilla's paper provides new information concerning the reservoirs and sources of fecal
indicator bacteria, Solo-Gabriele said.
"This study emphasizes that beach sands serve as the most significant reservoir of fecal
indicator bacteria, and shows that the situation is not isolated to one specific beach, but can be
widespread across regions," she said.
"Bonilla and her collaborators provide a mechanistic explanation for the potential spread
of fecal indicator bacteria through gull droppings and subsequent distribution through natural
diffusion in the environment, as well as by people walking on the beach'," Solo-Gabriele said.
"The suggestion of an association between fecal indicator levels in sand and illness rates
among humans is very significant and points to the need to conduct more comprehensive
studies of beach sand."
The i es hit e it
D r Denns Brc.,ls e, .,m l ; i Iht e eve ,uf ; vA.i l ,1-reenll saI lunlie ,cie ,rf r ye er1 a :,inI reh.,bil.,il l: nb,
CIle. r,, :jier [..ljri .U: IJariumn Ihl ', : r- br,-r.tAqhl uIF s .releri .ar, [, C-.l 1.i .ieei r 1b-3 u E IhEv h.;i lum.-.rs
,ir:. i._I -ii_ r Ihi-r -v ,1, "::d 'rj ,i I n| al: lr miniil on: l I-I-c n ail lh Prn:.imrn l'i f o,:,:.:i li CDr; il,:-r 1 IK VVjil.li Iri._,z
iI Ih- lunrle;i re- Irul, bl.lnd *r if ur.l-erv C.-tildl be u eJd I. relhm-..,- Ihe luIm.,-r 11E uie a 1 jll r.,-J.ret Iheir s lqhl VI V.VIh
,idd d Ih.il Ih. lIim.-r i.r.:.tleIm is pre alnl 1 i hih i.pei s .ild *:i-.n .:.-.mIble 'ilh -ld -1 al1r Il-mper.;lure in
:n,;iler in.,-iih- I. m ke rn i dlllif ull f-.r Ih.-ill Ic. ur.. I Ph.I.- b. t .l.irk H,-M.ffli -L.,rqi
..l.- r.i~i Ir le.:ri...i i Tlerry T.:lrr. i '. Ir.:lm ..: ,.i-riori, i r. l.,I. n r. C. hi.r- nhi Pr. -lu:.r C',- *r Sr0.. .-.l:.i erl .Z:r