Dean Hendrickson, CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Director, first met Mark Stetter on a trip to perform elephant vasectomies in Africa.
“He invited me to be part of a team that wanted to help reduce elephant populations in Southern Africa,” Hendrickson said. “He decided that non-invasive vasectomies was the best way to do that.”
Stetter lead the team as part of his research with Disney’s Animal Kingdom starting in 2005. He worked with Disney as the Director of Animal Operations until he was hired as the new dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at CSU.
“I not only took care of the animals and did research in regards to conservation of the animals, but also making sure that our guests had a wonderful experience learning about animals,” Stetter said. “That’s my biggest passion, both there and coming here. I’m really interested in getting the general public better connected with animals, nature and wildlife.”
When the CVMBS dean position opened following former dean Dr. Lance Perryman’s retirement in June, Hendrickson figured he would try to convince Stetter to apply.
“I’ve always been impressed with his ability to pull a team together and make things work well in a challenging situation,” Hendrickson said.
That experience in a variety of workplace environments helped prepare Stetter the most for his position at CSU. Prior to working at Disney, he served as the Associate Veterinarian at the the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans and residency in zoological medicine at the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society.
“Disney does a really nice job of training their leaders. It gave me a great experience on how to work with people, how to work with budgets and how to manage facilities,” Stetter said.
Stetter will bring an entirely different level of experience than former dean Perryman, who spent most of his life and career in academia.
“He has more of a business sense and a large team sense,” Hendrickson said. “He doesn’t have any of the baggage academicians have, and that allows him to have a broad, open perspective.”
Stetter’s primary goal as CVMBS Dean will be to help make the public more aware of the college’s achievements while also sharing his passion for animals.
“If you asked the person down at Safeway ‘where’s a good place to go to vet school?’ or ‘where’s a good place to take your animal when it was sick?’ I bet they wouldn’t know it happens right here,” Stetter said. “One of the things I’m looking forward to is being able to better tell our stories so that everybody from Fort Collins to Denver to Boulder to L.A. to New York knows who we are and what we do so we can be more successful that way.”
The size of the CVMBS and the variety of its endeavors could make that goal difficult to reach, but Stetter has the breadth of knowledge and skills to achieve it.
“Our future lies in the hands of young people, and getting them excited about what we do is a very big thing,” Hendrickson said. “He’s done it on a huge scale and done it very well.”