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The History of the AVAP

The origins of what we now know as the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals (AVAP) can be traced to an organization of veterinary college fundraisers who began meeting in the mid-1980’s under the auspices of the Association of Veterinary Development Professionals (AVDP). In the mid-1990’s, Jeffrey S. Douglas, communications director at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, began examining the role of communications and public relations as it was being practiced in the nation’s colleges of veterinary medicine as part of graduate work he was conducting in corporate and professional communications. In early 1998 Douglas produced a 27-page research study entitled “Institutional Advancement Staffing at North American Colleges of Veterinary Medicine” and began organizing the communications professionals employed in colleges of veterinary medicine with an eye toward establishing a professional society. Douglas subsequently met with Chandy Christian, president of AVDP, and executive director of college relations at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, and the two agreed to establish a broader, institutional advancement-oriented continuing education program for veterinary college deans, fund-raising and communications professionals in conjunction with the 135th annual meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association in Baltimore. Featuring the late Patrick Jackson, one of the giants of the 20th century public relations profession as keynote speaker, the presentation of Douglases’ research and different programs in fundraising and communications, the meeting attracted close to 80 people and was considered a resounding success. During the business meeting of the AVDP which occurred on the following day, July 27, Douglas made a presentation concerning the expansion of the existing AVDP into an organization that would include communications and alumni relations professionals as well. The group then voted to amend the by-laws to create the broader organization that is known today as the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals.

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