Robert Ashley Robinson, BVSc, MPH, PhD, has joined the College of

Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) as

associate dean for preclinical affairs. Dr. Robinson will develop a

framework for the College’s problem-based learning curriculum, which

emphasizes student-centered learning, interpersonal communications skills

and teamwork.

“”It’s a big challenge to start up a new school, and I have been learning

about similar curricula at other veterinary schools to discover what works

best for them,”” Dr. Robinson said. “”We have a unique opportunity here to

break new ground. When students complete our program they will understand

their responsibility to veterinary and human public health. Humans can

contract many diseases from animals, and whether our graduates are in a

private veterinary practice or working for institutions, I want them to

understand that they have a very important role to play.””

When WesternU’s College of Veterinary Medicine secures provisional

accreditation, it will be the first veterinary school ever to open in

Southern California, and the first to open in the United States since

1983. Current plans call for admitting 70 students to a four-year doctor

of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree program in the fall of 2001.

Dr. Robinson retired from a 20-year faculty career in veterinary

epidemiology and public health at the University of Minnesota College of

Veterinary Medicine in 1997. For the last 18 months he worked for Tufts

University as a liaison for the USAID Middle East Regional Cooperation

Project. The project was part of the peace process, and involved

veterinarians from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian authority

working together on regional animal disease problems. Dr. Robinson lived

in Jordan while working on the project.

“”While humans understand lines in the sand, unfortunately animals don’t

recognize those international barriers,”” he said.

Dr. Robinson is a native of New Zealand. He earned his bachelor’s degree

in veterinary science from the University of Sydney in Australia, and his

master’s in public health and doctorate in veterinary microbiology from

the University of Minnesota. He is a long-time member of the American

Veterinary Medical Association, and has lectured at universities,

symposiums and conferences in Thailand, Morocco, Italy, Vietnam, Kenya and


According to Shirley Johnston, DVM, PhD, dean of the College of Veterinary

Medicine, Dr. Robinson’s vast array of international experience will make

his input into WesternU’s new program invaluable.

“”He is internationally renowned both as an epidemiologist and an educator,

and brings experience to Southern California from professional positions

all over the world,”” Dr. Johnston said. “”His expertise in zoonotic

diseases, food safety, public health and international veterinary medicine

will have an outstanding impact on our curriculum.””

Dr. Robinson lives in Claremont with his wife, Stella. He is a member of

Amnesty International and Habitat for Humanity, and is involved in Heifer

Project International, an organization dedicated to ending hunger and

poverty by providing food- and income-providing animals to families. The

couple have two grown children.