Dr. Mark and Mrs. Kathy Bohannon of Manassas, Virginia, established a scholarship and the Mark and Kathy Bohannon Endowed Chair in Public Health through two generous gifts including a $1 million estate gift. Dr. Bohannon sat down to talk about his career as a veterinarian in public health and what inspired them to donate.
Bohannon graduated in 1988 and was commissioned into the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. He spent 27 years on active duty earning a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine degree from the Tulane University of Louisiana and board certification from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
“I served in Korea, Germany, Texas, and California. I completed my career on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon,” said Bohannon. “Along the way, I became an expert in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense. I currently work for the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center supporting the national security sector.”
With a nearly 30 year retirement package from the military and a good financial advisor, the Bohannons were faced with some financial decisions.
“My wife and I never had children,” continued Bohannon. “I left the Army with financial stability and one day we realized that while we are not truly wealthy, we were going to have a decent estate. I credit OSU with putting me on the path that made that possible. I never planned to enter public health as a field, but I’ve enjoyed the options it offers. The preventive medicine and public health offerings in the 1980s were limited, and the chair was an obvious choice for me. My wife was fully supportive.
“My hope is that OSU will be able to reward this chair to a dynamic individual who will focus on students. I fully expect most students to go into clinical practice. That was my plan 30 years ago, but a dynamic, student-focused leader can instill the principles of public health in the clinical practitioner and inspire a few to take the road less traveled.”
Veterinarians impact and contribute to public health in a variety of ways. Veterinarians can be found in diverse roles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local public health departments, state veterinarians, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, and disaster preparedness to the roles veterinarians play in the armed forces, especially the Army.
“Our education and degree are very adaptable; the public health specialization just adds to the options,” he said. “Within the membership of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, you’ll find epidemiologists (a sub-specialty), herd health specialists, and regulatory medicine specialists. If you can imagine a public health pursuit, the odds are that there are veterinarians already involved somewhere.”
The Bohannons also established a student scholarship. The Mark and Kathleen Bohannon Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to a veterinary student with financial need in any year of the program who has a 3.0 GPA or greater and is concurrently pursuing a MPH degree.
“I grew up in Southeastern Oklahoma,” said Bohannon. “My father passed away when I was 12. My mother taught high school in Oklahoma. Somehow, I was able to attend a very good university with a very good professional degree program. Ultimately I pursued a commission in the Army for financial reasons as much as for professional interest. My wife and I would like to help ease those decisions for future students.
“What we’re doing is unusual and we’ve been blessed to be able to do it. I wasn’t in private practice and don’t have those bills. I do hope that others look at their options and if you love this place as much as we do, you’ll give some thought to giving back to OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and helping another generation of veterinarians. I realize that’s not easy for my friends in private practice but I think anything we can do for the future of our profession is a bonus.”
If you are interested in giving to the future of veterinary medicine at Oklahoma State University, please contact Ashley Hesser, constituent relations associate with the OSU Foundation, at 405-385-0715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences | 405-744-6740 | email@example.com