Zoetis Distinguished Teacher Award

Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award

The Zoetis Distinguished Teaching Award is given to educators in recognition of their character and leadership qualities as well as their outstanding teaching abilities. Winners of the Distinguished Teacher Award are then evaluated annually to select the National Award winner.

Dr. Verena Affolter

Dr. Verena Affolter was recognized with the 2021 Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award for excellence in teaching pathology and dermatopathology in professional and graduate clinical programs.

A professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Affolter received her DVM (1982) from University of Bern and PhD (1999) from UC Davis. She is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Pathology (ECVP), began teaching at the SVM in 1997, and joined the faculty in 2005.

Affolter is a co-block leader for Skin Block (VET 411) and Comparative Medicine Stream (VET 432A/B/C) and teaches in several other blocks in the DVM curriculum. Students remark that she provides detailed notes with each slide and how helpful that is. There is a theme throughout the comments, from students who claim a lack of interest in histology, that when Affolter is teaching, they find it both interesting and fun.

Affolter has a major role in the clinical instruction of fourth year veterinary students in pathology. The comments from students are overwhelmingly positive and reflect superlative dedication and passion. One student commented, “I really loved having Dr. Affolter on as she made pathology seem less intimidating. I felt encouraged to voice ideas and opinions and never felt discouraged even when I was wrong.”

In addition to creating a safe and encouraging learning climate, there are two adjectives used to describe Affolter that appear with very high frequency: enthusiastic and engaged.

Affolter has held weekly dermatopathology rounds since 1997 and has served as faculty lead for the weekly biopsy conference since 2004. When reviewing comments provided by graduate clinical trainees, the profoundly positive nature of feedback is impressive. Residents describe Affolter as “fair, understanding and caring” and comment that she “never makes me feel stupid and encourages me to really investigate.”

Our integrative block curriculum at Davis requires that some instructors step up to lead large teams of faculty to organize, integrate, deliver and assess course content. Affolter provides leadership in multiple courses and her faculty colleagues comment on the outstanding quality, quantity and effectiveness of her clinical and didactic instruction. Adjectives used to describe her course leadership are proactive, collaborative and exemplary.

  • Past Recipients
  • (Formerly Carl J Norden; Smith-Kline Beecham; Pfizer Animal Health Distinguished Teacher Award)

    2020 Kevin Woolard
    2019  Lance Visser
    2018  Stephen McSorley
    2017  Claire Yellowley
    2016  Jim Clark
    2015  Brian Murphy
    2014  Geraldine Hunt
    2013  Matthew Mellema
    2012  Fern Tablin
    2011  Linda Barter
    2010  Richard Nelson
    2009  Birgit Puschner
    2008  Janine Kasper
    2007  David Maggs
    2006  Walter Boyce
    2005  Eric Herrgesell
    2004  Lisle George
    2003  Barry Ball
    2002  Gary Carlson
    2001  Robert Hansen
    2000  Rick LeCouteur
    1999  Pat Conrad
    1998  Jan Ilkiw
    1997  Mary Christopher
    1996  Sue Stover
    1995  Charlie Plopper
    1994  Tony Stannard
    1993  Jim MacLachlan
    1992  Dwight Hirsh
      Roy Bellhorn
      Ed Feldman
      David Wilson
      Michael Bruss
      Lisle George
      Brad Smith
      Steve Haskin
    1984  Robert Bondurant
    1983  Roy Pool
    1982  George Cardinet
    1981  Peter Suter
    1980  Dwight Hirsh
    1979  John Hughes
    1978  Ralph Kitchell