The Francis H. Fox Scholarship

How Fox’s friends and former students gave the prankster his best surprise yet

What comes to mind when you think of Francis H. Fox? If you were one of the legions he trained, you might remember lively lectures offset by mischievous humor, or rolling up farm roads for firsthand lessons in large animal medicine. Perhaps you’ve only heard his name in the College’s legends: rumors of preternatural diagnostic powers, or elaborate pranks exchanged with students. If you’ve ever driven down Route 366 near the College, you may think of his name in white paint, infamously emblazoned on the side of an old bridge over the road and accompanied by a public birthday counter.

This symbol has become a lasting tribute to the strong bonds between one of the College’s most well-known professors and the generation of veterinary students he trained, challenged, inspired, and befriended. That close camaraderie roused a large group of Fox’s former students and fast friends to unite and establish a scholarship in his honor, gathering supporters happy to give their mentor a legacy that would continue his passion for helping veterinary students for years to come.

“When I was a student I spent a lot of extra time with Dr. Fox,” said Dr. Pete Malnati ’52, who spearheaded the project. “He would call up interested students to go out on special cases with him. He was an exceptionally committed teacher, happy to share his knowledge and experience and sense of humor. I appreciated what he did for me, and for my fellow students, and we wanted to give back.”

The Friends of Francis Fox had no trouble getting support from enthusiastic peers. More than 200 people contributed over $22,000 in the first year alone. When Fox entered the Centennial New York State Veterinary Medical Society meeting in Rochester, NY in Fall 1990, he was surprised with a formal announcement establishing the endowment in his name.

“We are honoring Dr. Fox for his contributions to veterinary medicine in the field of large animal medicine and ophthalmology, especially as a teacher, clinician, and advocate of the art of physical diagnosis,” said Malnati. “He has given many of us this basic foundation in veterinary medicine. Thus we owe him this measure of gratitude as a friend, teacher, and fellow veterinarian.”

The selection criteria reflect Fox’s interests and ideals, seeking students highly motivated to serve the large animal sector, and those showing a gift mirroring Fox’s famous talent for physical diagnosis.

“It was all done behind my back,” said Fox. “I never expected such a thing, and felt very humbled. I hope it will help students who love the profession, and feel a calling to medicine because of their love of animals and satisfaction in working with them.”

The Francis H. Fox Scholarship fund has grown substantially since its inception in 1990, with continual support from hundreds of contributors. It aids two to four students in need a year, and has supported a total of 29 to date. Should you have interest in contributing to the Francis H. Fox Scholarship, please contact Amy Robinson in the Alumni Affairs and Development Office at or (607) 253-3742.


‘Scopes Magazine
July 2011

Healthy herds

Cattle health program helps herds and humans

Herds of grazing cattle set the classic backdrop of any drive through the Empire State. New York means cows, and not just because of the scenery. Dairy farms feed millions, providing the number one agricultural industry in the state, which ranks third in the US for milk production. The economy, natural resources, and public health of the state depend on healthy cattle. For that reason, New York State has developed a program to ensure the health, productivity, and stewardship of cattle and the farms they inhabit.

The New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program (NYSCHAP) provides a free service to any interested dairy or beef farm in the region. Funded through the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, the program offers collaborative consultations with state or certified veterinarians specially trained to work with farmers and their herd veterinarians to increase herd health, productivity, and profitability.

NYSCHAP works to assure food safety, public health, and consumer confidence in beef and dairy products that are sold in markets across the state and deck countless family tables. The program also supports the region’s natural resources by promoting environmental stewardship and best practices for waste management.

“Many issues face modern dairy and beef farmers, from maintaining a herd and managing disease to ensuring profitability and product quality,” says Kathy Finnerty, who directs the program from her office in the AHDC. “When a farm enrolls in NYSCHAP, we form a team of advisors to develop a plan for the herd based on the goals and resources of the farm.”

A NYSCHAP farm team consists of a state field veterinarian or certified NYSCHAP veterinarian, the farm’s owner, the herd’s veterinarian, key farm employees, and other consultants used on the farm.  After reviewing basic information and conducting a walk-through risk-assessment, the team forms a herd plan, including a prioritized list of best management practices specifically tailored to the farm.

“Goals may include anything from increasing milk production and quality, to expanding the herd, to controlling disease,” Finnerty explains. “The farm’s staff and herd veterinarian work together over the year to meet the agreed-upon goals, using the herd plan as a guide. Collaboration is key, and every member’s input counts in forming and implementing the plan.”

“It’s free, voluntary, and confidential,” Finnerty adds. “The state pays for visits from both a state field veterinarian and the farm’s own herd veterinarian. The veterinary visits, the team consultations, and the herd plan they produce can all have a great impact on the health and success of a farm. That translates to the health of consumers and the success of the state itself.”

Extension veterinarians from the College’s Diagnostic Lab helped get the program off the ground in 1998. Today faculty from the AHDC continue to assist in the program’s development and implementation, train veterinarians on pertinent topics, and meet herd veterinarians to discuss the use of new testing capabilities as these new tests become available. Participating farms receive significant discounts on certain tests at the AHDC, including Johne’s disease testing and bulk tank culture testing for contagious mastitis, an infection of the udder.

All farms enroll in the core module, which addresses biosecurity, food quality assurance, environmental stewardship, management of manure, feed, water, and facilities, and the possible introduction and spread of disease. Farms may also enroll in individual modules tailored to specific diseases, including Johne’s disease, bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), salmonella, bovine leukosis, mastisis and milk quality, and environmental pathogens. Other modules specifically address beef quality, herd expansion, and cattle welfare certification.

Currently 870 farms throughout New York State participate, including 60-70 beef farms, and 35% of all dairy cattle farms in the state. Farmers interested in enrolling in NYSCHAP can contact their herd veterinarians, or go online for more information at

NYSCHAP utilizes 11 NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets field veterinarians, and offers a training program for private practitioners. Veterinarians interested in becoming certified complete a training class or submit a certification test. Contact Kathy Finnerty, NYSCHAP Coordinator, at for more information.

Lifetime achievement award for contributions to poultry health

SchatTwin passions for veterinary research and international development work propelled Dr. Karel “Ton” Schat through a far-reaching career in avian virology and immunology. This past October, friends and colleagues surprised Schat with a unique award at the 5th International Workshop on the Molecular Pathogenesis of Marek’s Disease Virus in Athens, Georgia.

The plaque reads: “in recognition of outstanding research and contributions to poultry health,” commemorating contributions that have spanned flocks and nations around the world and summarizing the adventures and discoveries that have shaped Schat’s career.

“This award is a fitting capstone to Ton’s scientific career,” said Dr. Avery August, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology to which Schat belongs after 32 years of teaching and research at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “I believe that it illustrates the esteem with which his colleagues view him and his work in avian health research, particular his work on Marek’s disease. The department is very proud to have someone of this caliber amongst our faculty.”

A dual degree professor, Schat earned his DVM from the State University in Utrecht, Holland, in 1972, and spent several years exercising his enthusiasm for health research and international development work before earning his PHD from Cornell in 1978. “I knew I wanted to do projects in international development before going on to graduate school,” Schat said, “so during my final year in veterinary school I got a fellowship to spend five months in northern Nigeria researching bacteriological causes of infertility in Fulani cattle. I really enjoyed the work and interacting with the people.”

The experience fueled his international interests, which brought him to Mexico where he met the man who would launch the rest of his career. “The Dutch government hired me to help set up a laboratory in Mexico, researching Marek’s disease,” recalled Schat. “I took six weeks of Spanish and spent a few months learning how to culture cells and grow viruses. Then off I went.”

awardSchat helped get a new laboratory off the ground, trained Mexican counterparts in basic research skills, and conducted his own research on Marek’s disease in chickens. While working in Mexico, Schat met his future mentor, Dr. Bruce Calnek, an eminent poultry professor at Cornell studying Marek’s disease. “He invited me to join his lab at Cornell as a graduate student. When my job in Mexico ended, I came here and I’ve been based here every since,” said Schat.

Early in his graduate career, Schat met Dr. Randy Cole, who had a flock of 28-week-old chickens in full production and free of Marek’s disease on Game Farm Road near campus. Schat took blood samples from the birds and discovered within them a new type of Marek’s disease virus. He used this to develop the SB-1 vaccine for Marek’s disease, dubbed by Schat himself. The widespread vaccine continues to prevent disease in countless chickens, ensuring the health of poultry and its consumers.

After making his mark on Marek’s disease, Schat has continued avian virology research to this day as faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology and unit director for avian facilities and research. He has maintained a focus in avian virology, and more recently in chicken infectious anemia virus. In 2006 Schat began making annual pilgrimages to Australia to study the pathogenesis of avian influenza virus in a specialized high-containment disease center. There he works with a mutated strain of the virus taken from an infected human, in research that could have a direct impact on human health.

Schat has attended every one of the eight Marek’s disease symposia that have occurred since they began in 1978 and played important roles in orchestrating several of them. He has attended each of the five workshops for the molecular pathogenesis of Marek’s disease since they began in 2005, and the last such workshop gave him a surprise. “They asked me to present a paper for this meeting, so I arranged to fly down for the fifth time, expecting to give a talk. The award presentation came as a complete surprise. I have worked with and befriended many of the people who come to these meetings and work on these issues, and it was an honor to be recognized by them.”
The lifetime achievement award joins four other awards given to Schat for his work in poultry health. He and fellow College faculty Dr. Doug Antczak won the first-ever Beecham Award for Research Excellence in 1986, a prestigious award for young investigators in their first six years after post-doc work. That year proved particularly fruitful for Schat, who also won the Upjohn Achievement Award for distinguished contributions in avian medicine.

The year after, Schat received another, particularly meaningful award, the Bart Rispens Research Award in recognition of an outstanding research contribution in the field of avian pathology, from the World Veterinary Poultry Association. It was named after Dr. Bart Rispens, who first taught Schat about Marek’s disease and how to culture viruses. Schat became chair of the award committee the following year.

He later received the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Poultry Research at the 136th Annual Convention of the AVMA in New Orleans, July 1999, and the Merck Award for Achievement in Poultry Science at the 98th Annual meeting of the Poultry Science Association in Auburn, August 2005. The fifth and latest in this series of awards “in recognition of outstanding research and contributions to poultry health” honors Schat’s legacy of accomplishments in his field.…
World Poultry News, January 18, 2011…
Poultry Production News, January 21, 2011