New Dean Selected for UT College of Veterinary Medicine

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Alumnus Returns to Take Post at UT Institute of Agriculture

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The next dean for the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) has been announced as Dr. Paul J. Plummer, DVM and Ph.D. Plummer currently serves as the associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University as well as a professor and Anderson Endowed Chair in Veterinary Sciences in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.

Plummer attributes his academic career in part to his early experiences growing up in both East Tennessee and Pennsylvania. As a youth, he spent his summers working cattle and goats on his family’s farm in Sevierville and lived there full-time during his undergraduate studies and while attending veterinary school. He also helped his uncle on veterinary farm calls. A third-generation University of Tennessee, Knoxville, alumnus, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 1999 and earned his DVM from the UT College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. He and his family maintain active farms today.

“I’m thrilled one of our alumni with such a distinguished career will lead our nationally recognized College of Veterinary Medicine,” said University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Each year, the college graduates compassionate medical professionals committed to providing the best care for their patients. Dr. Plummer’s own practice has taken him all over the U.S. and world, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back home to Rocky Top.”

Plummer will join the College of Veterinary Medicine as its sixth dean on July 22. The UT College of Veterinary Medicine was founded in 1974 and in 2024 is celebrating 50 years of service to the citizens of Tennessee and to the science of veterinary medicine. It is one of only 33 accredited colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is also one of four UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) units. Keith Carver, UTIA senior vice chancellor and senior vice president, shared, “I am very excited about both the professional and personal experience Paul will bring to the role of dean. He is an innovative thinker, collaborative partner, and believes passionately in the land-grant mission.”

“Early in my childhood I fondly remember attending field days with my grandfather on what is now the Northeast Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center,” said Plummer. “That was the first of many interactions I would have with UTIA, and it laid an indelible image in my mind of what it meant to work to improve the lives of rural communities and agricultural producers around the state.”

Upon completion of his DVM at UT, Plummer spent a year at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in a rotating internship in large animal medicine and surgery. Rather than stay for his large animal internal medicine residency, he returned to Knoxville for three years as a resident in large animal internal medicine. There he saw cases in the hospital, and assisted private-practice veterinarians in the area with consults or continuing education classes.

From Knoxville, Plummer’s academic path took him to Iowa State, where he completed a Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology in 2009 and then accepted an invitation to serve as an assistant professor with clinical and teaching responsibilities. From there, he progressed to full professor and was named the Anderson Endowed Chair in Veterinary Science. An alumnus of the Food Systems Leadership Institute, Plummer’s funded research totals more than $35 million.

Plummer also serves as the executive director of the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE), a national membership organization of more than 50 academic, industry and affiliate stakeholders hosted by Iowa State University. He looks forward to continued involvement with NIAMRRE in his new role and to the opportunity to engage UT more broadly in those efforts. Plummer also serves as the Chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combatting Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB), which provides recommendations to the federal government related to the national response and policy regarding this critical health challenge.

Among his other notable academic achievements, Plummer is a 2004 diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in large animal internal medicine; a 2014 diplomate in the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management; and a 2021 American Veterinary Epidemiology Society Honorary diplomate.

Dr. Bob Denovo, who has served as interim dean since Dr. Jim Thompson’s retirement in December 2023, will continue serving in his role until Plummer arrives in July.

Plummer’s wife, Dr. Cassandra Long Plummer, is a member of the UTCVM class of 2002. She and their entire family are excited to return to East Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is comprised of the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension. Through its land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach, the Institute touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. to Tennesseans and beyond.

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