Holcombe Receives Excellence in Teaching Award

Equine veterinarian Susan Holcombe, VMD, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ACVECC, a professor in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, has been selected as "Teacher of the Year" by the DVM class of 2014. She joined the faculty of MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in 1994.

At the end of their pre-clinical coursework, third-year DVM students elect a professor they believe best models excellence in teaching. Three cohorts of students--2012, 2013, and now 2014--have selected Holcombe for the honor.

"Dr. Holcombe really fosters an enthusiasm about learning," says Jamie Douglass of the class of 2014. "She encourages curiosity by being positive and supportive--and really embodying the idea that there is no stupid question. I learned the material, and beyond that, I acquired an approach to learning I will carry with me."

Coretta Cosby Patterson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, assistant professor and associate dean for professional academic programs and student affairs, says Holcombe receives high praise from colleagues and from students: "We know that when students are engaged emotionally as well as intellectually, they really learn how to learn. What I hear from students is that when Dr. Holcombe walks into the room, it is like a warm hug."

Holcombe's research and clinical interests include equine emergency and critical care, upper-respiratory tract physiology, and sepsis and endotoxemia in horses. Double board-certified in emergency/critical care medicine and in equine surgery, Holcombe received her Veterinary Medical Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed an equine internship with Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Ky., and a surgery residency at The Ohio State University, and she received a PhD from MSU.

Holcombe has been recognized with several teaching awards, including the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award in 2012. The most prestigious teaching award in veterinary medicine, the Pfizer award is presented annually to a faculty member at each college of veterinary medicine in the United States in recognition of outstanding teaching abilities as well as character and leadership qualities. Holcombe also received the 2011 Equine Emergency & Critical Care Educator of the Year award for her contributions over the years as a lecturer and educator at the International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium.

"I'm not certain that I'm a particularly talented teacher but I do enjoy teaching," Holcombe said. "I likely learn more from the students than they do from me. Watching students grow and mature as clinicians and scientists is very motivating and inspiring. I'm really proud of our students. I consider myself quite lucky to work at MSU CVM with such a collection of gifted educators."

Students consistently report that Holcombe is one of their most dedicated, compassionate, and engaged instructors. Her engagement with students and commitment to excellence in education have a lasting impact on her students' lives.

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