Paige Carmichael, professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Veterinary Medicine, considers student engagement and the development of a love of learning the most important part of what she does.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received my doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Tuskegee University and my Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. I am also a board certified veterinary pathologist and completed my residency training at UGA. I am currently a full professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the associate dean for academic affairs. I team teach one professional course and three graduate courses and also run the Ophthalmic Pathology Diagnostic Service.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I started at UGA as a temporary instructor in Tifton in 1988 and as a residency and Ph.D. student in Athens in 1989. I came for the world-renowned teachers and researchers in the department of pathology and the Tifton Diagnostic Lab and stayed for the amazing weather in spring.
What are your favorite courses and why?
My favorite course is the core veterinary pathology course I teach with Dr. Corrie Brown to second-year professional veterinary students. We are both into innovation in teaching, such as the “Veterinary Pathology” e-book we are developing for use by our students. In our class we consider student engagement and the development of a love of learning the most important part of what we do.
I also enjoy teaching the First-Year Odyssey course “The Science of Bob Marley,” in which undergraduate students learn about the biology of cell development, cell damage and cancer through the lens of “The Legend.”
What interests you about your field?
Pathologists are the doctor’s doctor. I love problem solving and the process of discovery that is inherent in pathology. The UGA motto is “To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things.” Well, every day in a pathologist’s life we happily solve problems and inquire into the nature of diseases on behalf of other veterinarians and the animals in their care. I also love that we are comparative medical doctors, which means that we learn about diseases in ALL species of animals, including humans.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
I have enjoyed so many highlights that I could not name them all. Here are but a few: Discovering diseases in dogs that had never been described before and developing tests that help eliminate the diseases from those animals; working with folks from Georgia Regents University on stem cell research; being acknowledged for teaching excellence with many teaching awards, including the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship and the Norden-Pfizer Teaching Award; being inducted into the UGA Teaching Academy; being appointed associate dean for academic affairs in the college; starting (along with Mark Huber and Trish Kalivoda, and more recently Fran Teague) the Teaching Academy Fellows program for early career faculty and receiving support for it through the provost’s office.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I LOVE it when a light bulb goes on in my head when I finally solve a problem. I want that same experience for my students and I enjoy seeing the light go on in a student’s eyes when something is finally clear to them.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope they come away thinking that learning is fun and is the basis for just about anything that they will do in their lives. I hope they leave my class caring less about what is going to be on a test and more about what they get to learn next.
Describe your ideal student.
Fun-loving, engaged and open to learning, critical thinking and taking charge of their education. Oh, and one that laughs at my jokes.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
The Georgia Museum of Art. The beautiful pieces of art in the permanent collections and the exhibits are a perfect counterbalance to the mostly science-based world of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Hang out with my husband, John, and play the guitar, write music, sing, dance, collect mid-century modern furniture and cook together. I also enjoy playing with my dogs and anything to do with fashion.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I served as co-chair for the Georgia Museum of Arts’ Elegant Salute XIII, its largest fundraiser, and chaired the Black History Month event at the museum from 2009-2012. I’m also a board member for Project Safe, which works to end domestic violence, and a member of the Athens Chapter of the Links Inc., a service organization comprised of women of color.
My favorite book is the “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and my favorite movie is “The Sound of Music.” Although one is a serious novel and the other is a Hollywood musical, both of them have in common strong women who overcome adversity and ultimately take charge of their own fate.
Proudest moment at UGA?
Two immediately come to mind. The first is when I hooded my first Ph.D. student, and the second is seeing the look in my parents’ eyes when I received the Josiah Meigs Teaching Professorship at Honors Day.