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University of Missouri

Another Tiger Claims Top Veterinary Post

Clark Fobian is president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

A snake in the swimming hole sends most kids running and screaming. Not Clark Fobian. As a child splashing around in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, the future president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) waded toward the watery reptile while the other kids swam away.

He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t fascinated with animals.

Clark Fobian

Clark Fobian, BS Ag ’72, DVM ’77, is serving a one-year term as the president of the American Veterinary Association, a 150-year old professional organization with 83,000 members. Photo courtesy of Clark Fobian.

His interest led him toward a wildlife biology major at the University of Missouri. He didn’t want to be a veterinarian because at the time he felt he was more interested in the outside of animals and their environment than their inner workings. “But in my junior year [of college] I thought, what better way to take care of the needs of society than to look after the medical needs of animals?”

Accepted to the College of Veterinary Medicine 40 years ago, Fobian, BS Ag ’72, DVM ’77, hasn’t looked back, starting his own veterinary practice in Sedalia, Mo., in 1981, working his way up through the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and becoming president in 2003, and in 2006 winning election to the AVMA executive board.

In 2012, he was voted president-elect of the 83,000-member organization and has served as president since July 2013. He will serve one year as immediate past president starting July 2014.

Fobian says his AVMA involvement gives him the same kind of fulfillment that his animal practice does — the pleasure of helping people.

You can only imagine how gratifying it would be for a client of yours to bring in their pet that was severely injured or ill, when you could see the fear in the family’s eyes, their children clinging on to them, and through your administration, you were able to turn that affliction around and return that animal to health,” Fobian says. “That’s the high point of the profession.”

Through the AVMA, Fobian is able to help the veterinarians help animals through advocacy in the area of legislation, economics and education.

Fobian is the fourth Mizzou graduate to serve as AVMA president, following Gerald Johnson, BS Ag ’52, DVM ’56 (1991–92); Leon Russell, Bs Ag ’53, DVM ’56 (1993–94); and James Nave, BS Ag ’66, DVM ’68 (2000–01). Only Auburn University has had as many alumni as presidents in the past 30 years.

Fobian credits the mentorship of his predecessors, especially Bud Hertzog, BS Ag ’52, DVM ’56, for the success he and his fellow alumni have had in the profession. “If you compared us to California, New York or Texas, I think our graduates are having an equal or greater impact than any veterinarian school in the United States,” he says.

He’s sees that legacy as a charge to uphold.

But more than anyone in his professional life, Fobian says his wife, Rita Mawson Fobian, BS Ed ’73, whom he met at Mizzou, has been his constant supporter and helped him “start finding my way” by encouraging him to apply to vet school.

I feel like a box turtle on a fence post,” Fobian says, borrowing a metaphor he heard once from a veterinary award recipient. “I’m enjoying the most tremendous view in the world, but it certainly wasn’t my doing that got me up here.”