College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Phillip Nelson, DVM, PhD, received the Distinguished Alumnus award from the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association, the organization’s highest honor.

“Tuskegee has a long and proud tradition,” Nelson said. “Many of my mentors and many of my idols are part of the Tuskegee family. To be recognized by them with this award was truly flattering and humbling.”

Nelson earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1979 from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. He also served as a professor and administrator there in the 1980s and 1990s. He became dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in June 2007.

Nelson has distinguished himself as a clinician, educator and administrator, said Dr. R. L. Perry, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health at Tuskegee University.

“Dr. Nelson has represented the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association (TVMAA) and his alma mater, Tuskegee University, through his devoted support and contributions throughout his active career in teaching, research and academic veterinary medicine,” she said. “The TVMAA looks for alumni who have excelled nationally and internationally in their specialty area and advanced the field of veterinary medicine.”

The annual award was presented to Nelson at the Tuskegee University Veterinary Symposium in late March.

The financial support and active participation of alumni play an integral part of Tuskegee University’s academic programs, Perry said. The alumni association and the School of Veterinary Medicine are a cohesive team.

Nelson has participated as a visiting scholar in classroom instruction and in Tuskegee’s clinical training programs, she said. He is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and has been instrumental in the implementation of programs and projects that impact student learning and assessment outcomes.

“As Dr. Nelson advanced his career, he has remained cognizant of the fact that he is a part of the legacy of Tuskegee University and he represents that legacy well at each opportunity – at the institutions that he served in leadership roles, and in the veterinary profession,” Perry said. “We are proud of Dr. Nelson and his accomplishments.”

Nelson said he has a special connection with Tuskegee, and his time there gave him the resolve and confidence that has helped him progress in his career.

His class gets together every five years to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, and he is looking forward to their 30th anniversary next year, Nelson said. He envisions a similar cohesiveness for the alumni at WesternU. The College of Veterinary Medicine graduated its first class of 81 students in May 2007.

“We’re extremely proud of our charter class,” Nelson said. “This year’s graduating class is following in their footsteps.”

The college is making every effort to maintain contacts with alumni, he said. Maintaining ties with alumni will allow the college to celebrate their accomplishments and acknowledge their contributions to society, he said.

“We will have to build our own traditions,” Nelson said. “These traditions will be established to provide continuing support for our alumni. We won’t forget them just because they graduated and we won’t let them forget about us."