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Humane Society University Names Dr. Michael Blackwell as New President

Blackwell Draws from Experiences as HSUS Board Member, University of Tennessee Vet School Dean, Food and Drug Administration Chief

Humane Society University

Humane Society University has announced the appointment of Michael Blackwell, DVM, as its new president. In this role, Blackwell will lead the world’s first institution solely devoted to human-animal studies.  Humane Society University, an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, provides graduate programs and professional development to students on topics such as humane leadership, law enforcement, disaster response training, animal shelter and volunteer management, and humane education.

“Dr. Blackwell is an exciting, capable leader for Humane Society University,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “He has a wealth of experience as a former veterinary school dean and a former chief of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA.  He knows that there is a great need for professional training within the growing animal welfare sector, and more broadly, a growing interest among so many people to access affordable, serious coursework relating to human-animal studies.”

“It is an honor to lead the Humane Society University,” Blackwell said. “We are committed to the training of tomorrow’s leaders who will improve the global community. I believe there are many people who are committed to the well-being of animals. Humane Society University desires to work with these individuals to help them sharpen their minds and improve their skills to the benefit of all animals. There is no other work I would rather be doing.”

Blackwell has had a distinguished career in public service, as an educator, and is very familiar with animal sheltering issues and shelter educational needs.  He was educated at Tuskegee University in Alabama, obtaining both a Bachelor of Science degree and a doctorate of veterinary medicine. After private veterinary practice, he took a post with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. During his 20 years with the FDA, Blackwell served in both its human and veterinary medicine branches. He served as chief of the Restorative Devices Branch and as chief of the Investigational Device Exemptions Staff of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.  During his last five years with the agency, Blackwell served as deputy director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine.  

From 1994 to 1998, Blackwell served as the chief veterinarian of the United States Public Health Service.  In this role, he was the chief advisor to the Surgeon General of the United States. He became the chief of staff of the Office of the Surgeon General, managing day-to-day operations of the office. In 1997, Blackwell was promoted to the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (Rear Admiral) of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Blackwell left the FDA to become the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He led the college for eight years, during which he aggressively promoted the role of veterinary medicine in public health and also served as vice chair of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production from 2006 through 2008. He followed that experience by working to reorganize the animal shelter for the Knoxville region. Among Blackwell’s numerous awards, most notable are the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest personal honor award of the USPHS, and the Meritorious Service Medal, the second highest personal honor award.  In addition, Blackwell twice received the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal.

Media contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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