Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor Cynthia Ward enjoys helping students to see how the principles they learn in the classroom apply in practice at the Small Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where she serves as chief medical officer.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. I completed my residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
For my current responsibilities, I have a great job. I get to practice clinical veterinary medicine, teach students in the classroom and on the clinic floor, and research scientific, clinical or educational questions. I also am involved with developing case-based software to teach biology to elementary students. I have an administrative role as the chief medical officer of the small animal hospital.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
UGA has a well-respected and vibrant veterinary school. I was particularly impressed with UGA’s commitment to teaching excellence. When I was able to relocate in 2005, I was delighted at the opportunity to come here.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I love teaching endocrinology to the pre-clinical veterinary students. Many veterinary students find endocrinology confusing or boring. It is rewarding to change their minds and make the discipline understandable and hopefully interesting. It is so fun to watch them connect classroom concepts to clinic cases.
What interests you about your field?
Although I am passionate about endocrinology, just about everything interests me in internal medicine. I love thinking about how different body systems work together in health and disease. I love the detective work of gathering behavioral and physical clues from a patient who cannot talk and putting the puzzle pieces together to understand a disease process. Most rewarding, of course, is making someone’s pet feel better and sending him/her home with a happy family.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
The highlights of my career come every summer when the veterinary students graduate and the interns and residents finish. Their success is what I am most proud of. The class and school teaching awards that I have received are also highlights of my career.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Students are always asking questions from a fresh perspective that makes me think differently about a disease process. This often stimulates a research question to be formed that we can try to answer. As my research interests extend to pedagogy, I am always trying to optimize student learning; I experiment with different teaching methodologies in my classroom or on the clinic floor.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I want them to be passionate about veterinary medicine and to excite them to pursue learning about it on their own.
Describe your ideal student.
Someone who has an open mind to new concepts and excitement about learning.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Tailgating and UGA football games, of course.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Run—especially with my dog—and to bike and hike. I enjoy spending time with my family and the many downtown activities in Athens.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
My favorite book would have to be a Jane Austen. I like the timeless plots and witty dialogue.
Proudest moment at UGA?
My absolute proudest moment was when I received the Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, the university’s highest teaching honor. I was truly humbled.
(Originally published Aug. 28, 2016)