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Markel announces decision to step down as veterinary school dean

July 1, 2023
A portrait photograph of Mark D. Markel

Mark D. Markel

Mark D. Markel, dean of the University of Wisconsin—Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, announced today that he will step down from the position in summer 2024, after nearly 12 years of leading the state’s only veterinary school through an era of unprecedented growth.

Announcing his transition to the school’s faculty and staff, Markel wrote that the decision was filled with “mixed emotions.”

“As Bob Dylan once said, ‘The times they are a-changin’’, and it is time for me to embark on a new chapter in my life,” Markel wrote. “This decision has not been a particularly easy one, but I am confident that it is the right one for me and for the school.”

Markel noted that his tenure has been marked by both fulfilling and challenging times, citing the vast improvement of the school’s infrastructure over the past dozen years as an example of the former and the Covid pandemic as an example of the latter.

“We continue to move forward with a new curriculum designed to even better prepare our new graduates with improved day-one competencies,” Markel wrote. “And I’m happy to announce that this year was our most successful year for research grant awards at $34 million. Congratulations all!!”

Markel drew praise from Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin, who says Markel’s leadership has been transformative for the school.

“Mark has been instrumental in spearheading efforts to expand facilities and enhance support for important research and clinical training, while keeping a focus on compassionate animal care,” Mnookin says. “He leaves a tremendous legacy of leadership at the school and on our campus.”

In 2021, the SVM broke ground on an ambitious building expansion project. The enhanced facilities will improve instruction space for students, double the size of the school’s small animal hospital and significantly enhance the large animal hospital, expand labs for studying naturally occurring animal and human diseases, and increase and modernize infectious disease research space. Project completion is expected in early 2025.

“Mark has been a wonderful colleague and tireless advocate for SVM’s research, teaching and animal care missions,” says Eric Wilcots, dean of the College of Letters & Science and interim provost. “I wish him well as he transitions from his leadership role at SVM and into his next chapter.”

Before his appointment as dean in August 2012, Markel was chair of the school’s department of medical sciences for 16 years and associate dean for advancement for 11 years. He joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor of large animal surgery, conducting research in comparative orthopedics focused on bone, tendon, and cartilage regeneration. During his tenure at UW–Madison, Markel also served as the president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

After transitioning out of the role of dean, Markel will return to the faculty as a professor of large animal surgery and will continue to run the Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory focused on musculoskeletal regeneration.

In addition, Markel will serve on the AO Foundation, where he was recently named president-elect. The foundation is the world’s largest orthopedic education foundation. Markel will be the first veterinarian to lead the organization in its 65-year history.

A native of Long Beach, Calif., Markel studied wildlife biology as an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis, the same school at which he received his veterinary medical training. He received his doctorate in physiology and biophysics in 1990 from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.