Celebrating Retiring Educators

Friday, December 15, 2023

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Portraits of Dr. Alan Beck, Dr. John Christian, and Paige Allen

The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine celebrates the accomplishments and careers of PVM educators who have retired in the past year.

Dr. Alan Beck

Portrait of Dr. Alan Beck

Dr. Alan Beck retired as the Dorothy N. McAllister Professor of Animal Ecology and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond August 31, after a storied career that spanned almost 60 years, of which 33 were spent serving on the Purdue faculty.

Dr. Beck received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1964 and master’s degree from California State University at Los Angeles in 1968. He went on to earn his Doctor of Science in animal ecology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in 1972.

Dr. Beck studied the ecological and public health implications of dogs in Baltimore, St. Louis, New York, and along the United States-Mexican border. His 1973 book, The Ecology of Stray Dogs: A Study of Free-Ranging Urban Dogs, is considered a classic in the field of urban ecology and was republished by Purdue University Press in 2002.

Together with Dr. Aaron Katcher, Dr. Beck edited the book, New Perspectives on Our Lives with Companion Animals, and co-authored Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship, first published in 1983 then revised in 1996. In 2011, he edited The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People (with Rebecca Johnson and Sandra McCune). Dr. Beck also co-edited the recently published Routledge International Handbook of Human-Animal Interactions and Anthrozoology (with Aubrey Fine, Megan Mueller, Zenithson Ng, and Jose Peralta).

In addition, Dr. Beck has published more than 90 professional articles and over 60 book chapters. He also is a founding board member of the Delta Society, now called Pet Partners. Dr. Beck directed animal programs for the New York City Department of Health for five years, and then was the first director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine where he served for ten years.

Steven shakes Dr. Beck's hand following his remarks
Dr. Alan Beck presented the Elanco Human-Animal Bond Keynote Lecture in the Stewart Center at the Purdue Veterinary Conference. Following the lecture, a reception was held which included remarks from HABRI President Steven Feldman who shared the institute’s establishment of a scholarship endowment in Dr. Beck’s name.

In 1990, Dr. Beck joined the faculty of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and became the director of what is now the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. The center was established to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between people and their companion animals. He also served as the editor of the scholarly book series, New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond, for Purdue University Press.

Dr. Beck’s extensive research has coincided with and documented the growing appreciation of the benefits of human-animal interaction, from reducing blood pressure to boosting post-heart attack survival and combatting loneliness. Dr. Beck concluded his Purdue career fittingly with his last lecture, when he spoke at the annual Purdue Veterinary Conference September 19 in Stewart Center. Dr. Beck was the speaker for the Elanco Human-Animal Bond Lecture, and gave a talk entitled, “The Human-Animal Bond: Totally Natural and Completely Necessary.”

After the lecture, Dr. Beck was honored at a reception, during which the president of the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), Steven Feldman, spoke about how Dr. Beck had been instrumental in the establishment of the organization, and then announced that HABRI is endowing a new scholarship in Dr. Beck’s name. The Dr. Alan Beck Human-Animal Bond Scholarship Endowment will provide annual scholarship support for one or more students who demonstrate financial need, with preference for promising students who show a high interest in the study of human-animal interaction.

Dr. John Christian

Portrait of Dr. John Christian

Dr. John Christian, associate professor of veterinary clinical pathology and director of the Purdue University Veterinary Hospital’s Clinical Pathology Laboratory, is retiring effective December 31, 2023 after 30 years of service to the university.

Dr. Christian earned his DVM degree at the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982 before entering private practice, working in mixed animal veterinary medicine and surgery in Tennessee. He came to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986 as a graduate instructor and veterinary clinical pathology resident. After his residency, he became an NIH Fellow, and received the National Research Service Award. He earned his PhD at Purdue in 1992, and in 1993, joined the college’s faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology. Dr. Christian was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and has served as the director and section chief of the Veterinary Hospital’s Clinical Pathology Laboratory since 2001.

Dean Reed, Dr. Christian, and Dr. Narayanan stand together against the college's logo backdrop as Dr. Christian holds up his commemorative clock with the college's Continuum sculpture engraved on top.
Dr. John Christian is joined by Dean Willie Reed and Dr. Sanjeev Narayanan, Comparative Pathobiology Department head, at a reception where he received a commemorative clock in recognition of his 30 year career at Purdue.

Dr. Christian has received numerous honors and awards, including the college’s All-Student Recognition for Excellence in Teaching, the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, and the PVM Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2018, he was inducted into Purdue University’s Book of Great Teachers and the following year, he received the College of Veterinary Medicine’s prestigious Raymond E. Plue Outstanding Teacher Award. In 2021, he was named as the recipient of the Weedon Faculty Recognition Award. Most recently, Dr. Christian was recognized by the DVM Class of 2023 for excellence in teaching, and also was selected to receive the Zoetis Distinguished Teacher Award based upon student evaluations.

Dr. Christian also has been actively involved in research as a principle or co-investigator on multiple research grants, and has published nearly 20 refereed articles and abstracts. In addition, he has authored nearly 20 book chapters and co-authored the handbook, “A Case-Oriented approach to Small Animal Biochemical Profiling.” He also has given more than 50 presentations across the country and abroad.

Dr. Christian is known by his students as a kind-hearted, easygoing, supportive, and helpful professor who not only is concerned with the intelligence aspect of teaching, but also the integrity part. Students praise him as a teacher who cares greatly about their learning the material and becoming knowledgeable, equipped doctors, as well as about the kind of people they will become.

Paige Allen, MS, RVT

Portrait of Paige Allen

It was in the fall of 1986 when Paige Allen, MS, RVT started working for the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine after being hired by then professor of veterinary clinical sciences Harold Amstutz to work in the Large Animal Hospital. More than 36 years later, she retired effective June 30. Faculty and staff gathered to honor her during a reception held June 16 in the Veterinary Medical Library.

Speakers recounted Paige’s career journey including working in multiple roles in the hospital before she was recruited to join the Purdue Veterinary Nursing Program (then Veterinary Technology Program) in 1999 to help implement a new distance learning program. Dr. Pete Bill (PU DVM ’80, PhD ’90), professor emeritus of basic medical sciences and former program director, recalled how he and Paige met with central administration, to establish the new online degree option — the first-of-its-kind at Purdue — as a sustainable program.

Dr. Brown, Paige, and Dr. Bill smile together at the reception
Both the current Purdue Veterinary Nursing Programs director, Dr. Chad Brown (left), and former director and professor emeritus of basic medical sciences, Dr. Pete Bill, congratulated Paige Allen upon her retirement for her noteworthy Purdue veterinary nursing career.

Dr. Bill also praised Paige for what she accomplished for the veterinary technician/veterinary nursing profession, saying she advanced the profession in terms of visibility, for not only the university, but collectively through her leadership with state and national organizations — assuming positions that had never been held before by a registered, credentialed veterinary technician. “Paige did that, and when she did, it looked good for Purdue, and it looked good for the profession, because we showed what veterinary technicians could do in an area outside of the clinics, in leadership.”

Current director of Purdue Veterinary Nursing Programs, Dr. Chad Brown (PU DVM 2001), also lauded her accomplishments and impact. Noting Paige most recently served as the assistant director of academic advising and recruitment at the college, Dr. Brown said, “Paige has devoted numerous years to various roles within our institution. Throughout her tenure, she has consistently showcased unparalleled expertise, unwavering commitment, and an unyielding passion for her work.”

Paige also was recognized by Tim Kerr, director of academic programs for the College of Agriculture, who represented the Purdue Academic Advising Association in presenting Paige with the association’s Lifetime Colleague Award.

Writer(s): Purdue Veterinary Medicine News |

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