Dana N. Zimmel, D.V.M., has been named permanent dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, after having served in the post on an interim basis since December 2019. She becomes the college’s seventh permanent dean, and the first woman ever to hold the job. “Only months after her interim appointment, Dr. Zimmel was faced with leading the college through the most tumultuous of times when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and life as we all knew it changed,” said David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, and Scott Angle, Ph.D., vice president for agriculture and natural resources at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in a joint written statement.
“During the past year and a half, Dana has worked tirelessly with her leadership team to ensure the safety of the college’s faculty, staff and students, along with the successful continuance of its research, teaching and patient care missions,” the administrators said. “Her dedication and focus have been evident throughout this trying period. Through regular town hall meetings and student forums, Dana has worked hard to facilitate both internal and external communication and transparency across the college’s missions and among its many stakeholders.”
Nelson and Angle noted the importance of steady leadership across those missions of teaching, research and patient care as the college approaches its next accreditation site visit in 2022. Currently ranked 9th in the nation among veterinary colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the college never stopped caring for animal patients or supporting the referring veterinarian community during the pandemic.
“Clinical faculty and staff worked nonstop to deliver the leading-edge care the UF Veterinary Hospitals are known for,” Nelson and Angle said. “The Small Animal Hospital caseload — currently ranked second largest in the U.S. among academic veterinary hospitals — has remained high due to the remarkable effort and commitment of clinical faculty to maintain a business-as-usual approach despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
“In addition, in a nod to UF’s reputation as a leader in animal patient care, the college also received a $3 million gift from the Joanne W. Gauntt Foundation for a new linear accelerator to enhance radiation oncology treatment for small animal cancer patients from throughout the Southeast,” they said.
A clinical professor in the college’s department of large animal clinical sciences in addition to her administrative role, Zimmel is an alumna of the college from the Class of 1995. She joined the UF faculty in 2002, working first in extension, then large animal medicine and later progressing to leadership roles. She became chief of staff of the UF Veterinary Hospitals in 2010, when the position was created in alignment with the UF Health strategic plan, focused on patient-centric care, and held that position until her appointment to the associate dean of clinical services role in 2015.
Under her leadership, hospital caseload has grown from 20,542 patients in fiscal year 2011 to nearly 43,000 patients seen in fiscal year 2020, with another 7,794 animals treated at the Pet Emergency Treatment Services clinic in Ocala. In 2012, Zimmel spearheaded the effort to create UF PETS, which has evolved as a hugely successful collaboration with Marion County-area veterinarians.
“We are confident our veterinary college, hospitals and clinics, which boast nationally and internationally recognized programs in academia as well as advanced research laboratories and facilities, will continue to flourish under Dr. Zimmel’s leadership,” Angle and Nelson said.