Dr. Niall B. Finnegan, Onancock, Virginia, is the recipient of the 2019 Alumni Recognition Award presented during the annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on Aug. 2. The award is given to veterinarians whose careers have served as exemplary role models for future alumni in a professional and community setting.
Dr. Finnegan earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Long Island University in 1969 and his DVM at Kansas State University in 1979. He went on to get his Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University in 1984, followed by board certification in the college of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. He followed this with a master’s degree in national resource strategy from National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1994.
Following graduation from K-State, Dr. Finnegan practiced for a year then received a commission in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, retiring after 20 years as a full colonel. His last command was as commander of the Great Plains Regional Veterinary Command which stretched from Panama to the Canadian border. He retired from the Army in 1998. Following retirement Dr. Finnegan received the prestigious Association of Military Surgeons of the United States James A. McCallam Award in 2004.
Dr. Finnegan began his civilian career with the AVMA, becoming Director of the Governmental Relations Division in July 1998. Dr. Finnegan first became involved with the AVMA Washington office when he was selected as the inaugural Uniformed Services/AVMA Congressional Fellow for 1992-1993. He was chairman of the internal affairs committee for the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine from 1993-1994, and then the president from 2000-2002.
“I stand humbled in the shadow of the many fine men and women that have received this award before me,” Dr. Finnegan said. “There is no finer honor than praise from your peers. My career in veterinary medicine has been an unusual one. It involved the military, zoonotic disease investigations, politics, and a lot of moving. I’ve always loved practicing in the interface between human medicine and veterinary medicine, and I love politics. To have the opportunity to combine both as an AVMA/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow on Sen. Kennedy’s staff and as director of the AVMA’s Governmental Affairs Division in Washington, D.C., was one of the most exciting times of my life. To be honored by my peers too on this occasion tells me I’m not such a strange veterinarian after all.”
“It is a privilege for our college to recognize Dr. Finnegan,” said Dr. Bonnie Rush, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Dr. Finnegan has already been recognized by the military for his outstanding expertise. The AVMA Convention presents a perfect opportunity to share his success among other K-State veterinary alumni and professional peers.”
Dr. Finnegan and his wife Deb, have two children: Brendan and Molly, and four grandchildren.