Two Honored With UW School of Veterinary Medicine 2022 Alumni Awards

UW School of Veterinary Medicine 2022 Alumni Award recipients Tom Kennedy and Kurt Sladky

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) Alumni Association has recognized two graduates with 2022 alumni awards for achievements in advancing the veterinary medical profession, animal and human health, and humanity.

The awards were presented at a celebration event on September 10 at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The UW School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Advisory Board launched the awards program in 2019 to recognize graduates who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments, affiliations and careers honor the legacy of excellence at the school. Award categories recognize both DVM and graduate degree program alumni.

The Alumni Advisory Board has since grown into the UW SVM Alumni Association (SVMAA), established in July 2022 to support the school’s advancement through alumni engagement.

Both 2022 alumni honorees received the Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who:

  • Has attained professional achievement and career distinction through contributions in fields of animal and/or human health or other fields of biological sciences
  • Demonstrates a level of integrity and leadership through support of community and professional organizations
  • Reflects the importance of educational training and pride in their alma mater as demonstrated through their interest in and support of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Learn more about the 2022 award recipients:

Thomas Kennedy MS’73, PhD’75
Kurt Sladky MS’88, DVM’93

Distinguished Service Award (Graduate Program)

Thomas Kennedy MS’73, PhD’75

Across nearly five decades, Thomas Kennedy has led a celebrated career in veterinary pharmaceutical research and development with specific expertise in the control of parasitic diseases.

After a short stint as a bench scientist, Kennedy founded a contract research company that developed disease models and novel therapies primarily in veterinary parasitology. Over the next 40 years, he held research and development leadership roles with Boehringer Ingelheim’s Animal Health business unit, Mallinckrodt Veterinary Inc., Bayer Animal Health and Central Life Sciences. He has contributed to the registration of several patents and numerous veterinary therapies.

Tom Kennedy

Currently, Kennedy serves as a partner and chief financial officer for ParaTheraTech Inc., a discovery company in parasitic diseases. He consults in veterinary drug development for clients across the globe as Eleven Bravo LLC. He is also a co-founder and partner in Reliance Animal Health Partners, assisting emerging companies in animal health. And Kennedy is a co-founder, partner and chief operating officer of Covenant Animal Health Partners. Covenant funds and develops novel therapies for diseases of livestock and companion animals, with a national and worldwide mission.

Kennedy’s expertise covers applying scientific principles to developing and implementing veterinary medicines, particularly novel delivery dose forms. He has extensive experience and hands-on involvement with manufacturing site selection and start-to-finish chemistry-manufacturing-control development for clients on several continents, from established animal health companies to emerging technologies.

His professional memberships include the American Society of Parasitologists, American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (for which he served in every elected office and is a member of the past presidents’ committee). He is also a member of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (past president, executive board member and chair of the Scientific Guidelines Committee), Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis Society (founding member and past president), Council of Agricultural and Scientific Technology, Midwest Conference of Parasitologists, Poultry Science Association, American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, Council of Science and Technology, and American Dairy Science Association.

Kennedy was instrumental in bringing the international meeting of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology to Madison in 2019, providing an opportunity to highlight the UW School of Veterinary Medicine’s research portfolio to the international community.

Kennedy guest-lectured for several years in the UW–Madison Department of Veterinary Science and School of Veterinary Medicine. He serves as a reviewer for several professional journals, has published scientific articles in his specialty, and presented programs on parasite control to veterinarians and livestock producers across the U.S.

He received the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists’ distinguished service award in 2020.

In addition to his professional achievements, Kennedy enlisted in the Army in 1968 and served as an Army Infantry officer in Vietnam, receiving the Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star. He then served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard as the aide de camp to the state’s Commandant and as the State Headquarters Company’s captain and commanding officer. He is also a member of the Waunakee Rotary Club, serving as secretary-treasurer and president, and is a Paul Harris fellow with Rotary International.

Distinguished Service Award (DVM)

Kurt Sladky MS’88, DVM’93 

Kurt Sladky is a clinical professor and section head of Zoological Medicine and the Special Species Health Service at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. He has served as a member of the SVM faculty since 2002.

Sladky lectures and teaches hands-on labs in a dozen courses related to zoological medicine and special species at the School of Veterinary Medicine, in addition to clinical teaching of fourth-year students. He has mentored more than 50 residents, specialty interns and veterinary and graduate students during his tenure and has served as the primary advisor for over 100 veterinary medical students. He also advises several student clubs.

Kurt Sladky

His impact extends across and beyond the UW–Madison campus. Sladky is a member of the Master of Public Health (MPH) faculty in the School of Medicine and Public Health, serving as a primary advisor to dual-degree DVM/MPH students, and an Advisory Committee member of the university’s Global Health Institute. Since 2003, he has served as course coordinator for a popular undergraduate class at UW–Madison, Diseases of Wildlife, covering wildlife health and one health from a veterinary perspective. He has inspired numerous undergraduate students to pursue veterinary or graduate school through this course alone. Myriad former students and mentees now serve as faculty, scientists and veterinarians at universities, federal and state wildlife organizations, zoos and aquariums.

Sladky is also heavily involved in SVM outreach initiatives and frequently speaks with the media about exotic pets, wildlife and zoo species. He has helped to initiate and maintain long-standing relationships between the SVM and Milwaukee County Zoo, Henry Vilas Zoo and other zoological and wildlife institutions, benefiting the health and welfare of these animals and expanding training opportunities for students and house officers.

His research interests include analgesia and anesthesia of captive and free-ranging nondomestic species and the impacts of anthropogenic (human-generated) changes on wildlife health and diseases. His most recent international field project focused on the physiologic effects of commonly applied pesticides and herbicides on the health of free-ranging sloths in Costa Rica. He has published more than 90 research papers, clinical reports, review articles and popular press pieces and authored several textbook chapters.

Beyond his academic influence, Sladky is an international leader in zoological medicine. He is a diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine and the European College of Zoological Medicine (Zoo Health Management and Herpetology). He serves or has served on numerous committees for national and state organizations devoted to zoological medicine, wildlife, avian medicine and reptile and amphibian medicine. This includes six years as the zoo and wildlife medicine representative on the American Veterinary Medical Association Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee for the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and five years on the AVMA Task Force on Veterinary Compounding Legislation.

Sladky previously received Presidential Service Awards from the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and the American College of Zoological Medicine.

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