COLUMBIA — Richard Meadows, MU professor of veterinary medicine, is realistic about the challenges of keeping the best and brightest young veterinary graduates in research and teaching roles.
Veterinarians who remain in academia must publish and perform additional research, and often the pay is not as good as in private practice.
So, why did he stay?
Meadows, who recently was awarded the 2010 National Pfizer Teaching Award, did not hesitate to answer: It's the "ah-ha moment" he sees in students.
“I get a kick out of watching that light bulb go on,” Meadows said.
The award, prestigious for teachers of veterinary medicine, comes from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Meadows will receive the award and give a presentation about his teaching philosophy in March at the association's annual conference in Alexandria, Va.
Meadows, who has been at MU for 11 years, is “knowledgeable, passionate, enthusiastic and compassionate with his students,” Neil C. Olson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a news release.
On the philosophy that won Meadows the Pfizer Award, along with more than a half-dozen other awards during his time at MU, Meadows is humble.
“I do a lot of extracurriculars," he said. "I try to be accessible to students. Eighty-five percent of my time is spent in the (animal) hospital.”
Even during a brief interview, Meadows wove academic ideas withpop-culture images, almost in the same breath mentioning "Dirty Harry," "The Little Train That Could" and "Star Trek."
Once a month, Meadows takes a group of veterinary students to Kansas City for spay and neuter clinics. This helps students develop surgical skills while providing a meaningful service.
“If I had a defeatist attitude, I couldn’t do anything," Meadows said. "You have to believe in yourself.”