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the great professors

Susan Cotter

Susan Cotter, distinguished professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, officially retired in June 2010, but Vicki Kucia, V03, like many of Cotter’s former students, is still learning from her. After starting her own small-animal practice, Kucia found that owners of cancer-stricken pets wanted her, not some distant specialist, to administer treatment. But Kucia was nervous about doing chemotherapy on her own. She contacted Cotter. “Sue emailed me right back with her wisdom. I suddenly felt the weight of practicing in isolation lifted.”

Cotter, who came to Tufts in 1981 after clinical service at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, relished the mix of classroom and research in Grafton. “Over the years, teaching evolved to be the most fun part of what I’ve done,” she says. “It’s exciting to watch students catch on to ideas.”

Most of those students are female today—but that was far from being the case in the 1980s. “Sue was an excellent role model as a woman veterinarian who did a lot of pioneering work and ‘made it’ at a time when the veterinary profession was largely male,” says Ann Marie Manning, V93, Angell’s chief of staff. “It made me believe the sky was the limit professionally.”

Beyond the classroom, Cotter has been much honored for her research in veterinary clinical oncology, especially work she undertook to analyze the feline leukemia virus. But Cotter shared more than just her deep knowledge with students. “Sue has been a great teacher and a mentor to many,” says Megan Whelan, V03, an emergency and critical care staff doctor and the intern director at Angell, where Cotter addressed last June’s outgoing class. “Sue’s accomplishments and career are what most veterinarians just dream of,” says Whelan, “but she spoke to the interns about being modest as they accumulate knowledge. Sue Cotter epitomizes this quality.”

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