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McGuire honored for service; award named for Rawlins

Travis McGuire, professor in the department of veterinary microbiology and pathology, was awarded WSU’s President’s Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service at the Showcase celebration Friday.

The award, which is kept secret and not necessarily bestowed annually, was announced by WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. According to Rawlins, McGuire “has created a legacy of thriving programs and talented individuals and colleagues who are carrying on his passion and his vision at WSU and beyond.”

In another surprise announcement, at the end of the evening the President’s Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service Award was renamed the V. Lane Rawlins’ Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service in recognition of President Rawlins’ many years of service to WSU. Rawlins created the Distinguished Lifetime Service award at WSU five years ago.

After 40 years at WSU, McGuire left Pullman in May 2006 to begin a part-time appointment while living in the Seattle area.

Legacy of excellence
McGuire, who arrived in Pullman in 1965 to pursue a degree in veterinary pathology, not only changed the field of equine immunology, but left a legacy of research excellence and personal mentoring that colleagues at WSU and around the country say they have a commitment to continuing for future generations.

“Over a multi-decade span, Travis McGuire has been the de facto research leader of the department of veterinary microbiology and pathology,” said David Prieur, chair of the department. In a letter listing McGuire’s many accomplishments, Prieur wrote, “The prominent national and international reputation of the infectious disease research program at Washington State University can be, without exaggeration, directly attributed to professor McGuire, his research and his leadership.”

“His commitment to discovery and graduate student training were of a standard that we would like all faculty to emulate,” said Warwick Bayly, dean of the College of Veterinary Science. “His graduate students have become known worldwide and they, in turn, have produced more outstanding graduate students. The impact of Travis McGuire’s influence reaches worldwide.”

Leader with humility
Guy Palmer
, a colleague and newly named Regents Professor, said he found it remarkable that McGuire was a leader without ever being an administrator.

“He did it as an individual faculty member,” Palmer said, leading by example in a quiet, thoughtful way.
“Colleagues learned not just how to be a better investigator, but how to be a better person,” Palmer said, adding that McGuire didn’t set out to change anyone’s thinking or behavior, but he did.

“He is a superb scientist of unquestionable integrity who has the unique ability to ask the right scientific question,” said Lance Perryman, one of McGuire’s first graduate students and now the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.

“He did more for me than I could ever express in words,” Perryman said. Not only did McGuire bring a new level of research excellence to WSU, but he did so with uncommon generosity and humility. For instance, Perryman said, while he was still a graduate student, McGuire gave him lead authorship on an important paper that could easily have been McGuire’s own. “He gave me credit that he didn’t have to,” he said.

Terry McElwain, head of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at WSU, was also one of McGuire’s graduate students. “He was a model for many of us in how he handled his professional life,” McElwain said, and not just his professional life, but his personal life too.

Builds collegiality
McGuire had many opportunities early in his career and throughout his tenure to leave WSU for high-profile research programs at other universities, McElwain said, but instead chose to stay at WSU and help build a program that not only rivals the top veterinary research programs in the country, but does so in an environment of uncommon collaboration and mutual respect.

“He created a culture in the College of Veterinary Medicine in research and graduate education that you just don’t find in many places,” McElwain said.

As important as McGuire’s research contributions were, McElwain said he believes McGuire’s lasting legacy, the one that is apparent today and will be felt in generations to come, is the way in which McGuire inspired those around him to do better and do more, and to find meaning in not only their research, but in their relationships with colleagues.

In October 2005 McGuire was inducted into the Equine Research Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, one of only 18 people awarded this honor. The honor recognizes the body of his work, but in particular his characterization of the key components of the horse’s immune system.

Previous recipients of the President’s Distinguished Lifetime Service award include James Cook, Jim Short and Rom Markin.

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