A veterinary cardiologist on faculty in the college who is considered one of the “founding fathers” of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) was honored with the organization’s “Distinguished Service Award” during their recent annual meeting.

Dr. R. Lee Pyle, who was one of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s (VMRCVM) founding employees and administrators, is a professor in the college’s department of small animal clinical sciences. His wife Inge was also honored with him during the ceremonies.

The ACVIM, based in Denver, Colorado, is one of the world’s leading veterinary specialty organizations. It certifies advanced level practitioners in the areas of cardiology, large and small animal internal medicine, oncology, and neurology. The Distinguished Service Award honors ACVIM diplomates who have provided exemplary and sustained service.

Pyle and his wife Inge, known to many in the organization as “Mr. and Mrs. ACVIM,” began operating the association out of bedroom in their home in 1984. They helped create the ACVIM Forum, which is now one of the world’s leading continuing education conferences in veterinary medicine. But it wasn’t always so.

“At a 1984 board meeting we discovered the ACVIM’s checking account was too low to cover the Forum costs and the pre-registered attendees were way below what was needed,” said Dr. Jeanne Barsanti, an ACVIM leader who presented the award to Pyle. “Dr. Pyle said he knew ACVIM was a great organization and knew the veterinarians would come to the convention—he was the originator of ‘if you build it, they will come’.”

Pyle’s vision and steadfast leadership paid off. In 1977, when Pyle began to serve on the ACVIM Board of Regents, the college had a total of 100 diplomates. Today there are 1,655 ACVIM diplomates, and the ACVIM hosted close to 3,000 attendees this year at their annual convention. Much of the success of the college can be attributed to Pyle’s involvement in ACVIM, said Barsanti during the ceremonies.

Established in 1973, ACVIM’s purpose is to advance the knowledge of animal health and diseases, and to foster the continued development of specialty veterinary care.

Pyle was one of the college’s earliest employees. VMRCVM Founding Dean Richard B. Talbot appointed Pyle Associate Dean--Public Programs. As such, he played a major role in the development and operation of the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and decade-long building program.

Pyle currently teaches in the DVM instructional program, provides veterinary cardiology services in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and conducts research.

Pyle earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State, and a master’s degree and VMD from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the college, he conducted an NIH post-doctoral fellowship at Penn, and served on the faculty at Mississippi State University and Colorado State University.

He is a member of numerous professional societies and organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Zeta, Omega Tau Sigma, and others.

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