Decorated veterinarian made Companion of Charles Sturt University

Douglas Bryden, AM, was made Companion of the University of Charles Sturt University, in recognition of his role in the development of CSU’s veterinary degree.

Bryden was one of the early consultants called upon to develop the degree program – before most people knew about it.

As Bryden recalled, it was a bit like being asked to participate in a secret-service mission.

“I got a phone call one evening in 2002 from Wagga Wagga asking would I come down and discuss something,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what it was they wanted to discuss or why, but I knew from the questions they were asking that it was really important.”In 2004, the Vice Chancellor of CSU appointed Bryden as a consultant to lead the development of the veterinary course. Bryden had grown up in Wagga Wagga and remains committed to supporting rural veterinarians.

Best-known for his long association with the then Postgraduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, Bryden’s reputation as an educator with a concern for practitioners was invaluable in garnering support for the program from rural practitioners. In particular, Bryden saw the importance of broad selection criteria, rather than limiting acceptance into the program to students with the highest academic results. To this day, candidates are selected for the course based on commitment to rural communities, leadership, communication skills and a well rounded character.

Founding Head of School Kym Abbott praised Bryden’s contribution to the program.

“The commitment to rural practice and students from rural backgrounds, the passion for innovative educational processes and the fundamental role for rural veterinary practices to contribute to the training of our graduates, all are defining characteristics of the CSU program and all area a result of Doug’s inspired vision for the school,” he said.

Although Bryden’s direct contribution to the program ceased in 2005, he maintains close contact with the school, visiting at least annually and funding the Dr Heidi Austin Prize.

The recent award came as a pleasant shock.

“It was just amazing when I got the letter from the Chancellor,” Bryden said. “I really was quite surprised and very pleased because I felt that perhaps it is an opportunity to continue to contribute in the next few years.”

The first graduates of the CSU veterinary program entered the profession in August 2010, with 100 per cent choosing to begin their careers in rural veterinary practice.

ANNE FAWCETT