After 11 years as the dean of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, including the college’s greatest period of physical growth and expansion, Bryan Slinker is stepping down. He plans to teach part-time before fully retiring in summer 2020.
Slinker (’80 DVM, ’82 PhD Vet. Sci.) returned to WSU in 1992 as an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, which he chaired from 1999 until he became dean in 2008. During his tenure, he oversaw the move of the School for Molecular Biosciences to the veterinary college, the growth of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and an increase in students at all levels. In the two most recent legislative sessions, he helped secure a total of $59.4 million to move the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to a state-of-the-art facility.
“We’re a very different college now than we were when I became dean,” he says. “We’re much bigger and, I would say, much better.” Growing, of course, “has its own challenges in keeping a sense of community among faculty, staff, and students,” says Slinker, noting he considers himself “an enabler. I find money for ideas. Many weren’t my ideas. But I think that’s the dean’s job: using time and effort to set up others for success. Whatever we’ve accomplished in our growth and improved quality of programs has definitely been a team sport.”
WSU is now ranked first among U.S. veterinary colleges in attracting USDA funding and third for overall federal research funding. Slinker’s own research focused on heart and cardiac muscle function and adaptation. Over the years, he’s taught applied biomedical statistics, bioethics (including animal rights and welfare), responsible conduct of research, physiology, pharmacology, and developmental anatomy. He’s served on the board of directors of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo as well as the WSU Research Foundation. In retirement, he plans to continue to live in Pullman and make more time for travel and fishing. It’s been, he says, “a privilege to be dean of my alma mater.”