Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine Mourns Death of Long-Time Faculty Member Dr. James McKean
Dr. James McKean
"His research and grassroots efforts with pork producers and his mentorship of young industry-oriented faculty reflected his devotion to the industry and vision for its future. Our college has also lost an outstanding colleague and friend."
— Dr. Lisa K. Nolan,
"Swine veterinary medicine and the pork industry have lost a major piece of the foundation we currently stand on," said Dr. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of the Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine Department at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Our profession and industry have built upon and benefited tremendously from many of the things Dr. McKean has done to improve the health and welfare of pigs, the profitability of the pork industry and the safety and quality of pork," Dr. Halbur said.
Dr. McKean was internationally renowned as a tireless and effective leader in efforts to develop tools and programs for disease surveillance, and when the tools evolved he was front and center in efforts to eradicate those diseases from farms, states, regions and ultimately the U.S. pork industry. Dr. McKean was perhaps best known for his leadership in the eradication of Pseudorabies virus from the U.S. pork industry in 2004 and ongoing efforts to initiate an eradication program for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Prior to his passing, Dr. McKean was well into the process of designing strategies for eradicating porcine epidemic diarrhea virus that was recently introduced to the U.S. in 2013. He is also widely known for his leadership in helping establish and continuously improving the Pork Quality Assurance programs and for his collaboration in research that has advanced understanding of the opportunities to impact pork safety between the time pigs leave the farm and when they are harvested at the packing plant.
"Dr. McKean's tireless commitment to swine health and well-being will be greatly missed," said Dr. Lisa K. Nolan, dean of Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine. "His research and grassroots efforts with pork producers and his mentorship of young industry-oriented faculty reflected his devotion to the industry and vision for its future. Our college has also lost an outstanding colleague and friend."
Dr. McKean was named a University Professor in 2000 in recognition for distinguished service to Iowa State University. He has been the Iowa State University Swine Extension Veterinarian since August of 1974 … a few months short of 40 years. In this role, he impacted essentially all aspects of the Iowa and U.S. pork production. He was passionate about and very good at finding and bringing the latest information on current best practices in swine health and welfare and food safety to the people who applied it on the farms and in the pork processing chain. Dr. McKean was very gifted in presenting this information in a concise and easily understandable manner whether it was delivered at the kitchen table on an Iowa swine farm, at a county pork producer meeting, or at meetings around the world such as the International Pig Veterinary Society Congress. If the best information was not readily available in the U.S., Dr. McKean would often find the resources to take pork producers and swine veterinarians and policy makers with him to other parts of the world where the technology existed and bring that experience and new knowledge back and translate it into practice in the U.S. Since 1994, Dr. McKean also was the associate director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center where he worked with pork producers in the field.
As both an attorney and a veterinarian, Dr. McKean had a unique and highly valued perspective and skill set. "I doubt that there is any faculty member who paid more dues to professional organizations than Dr. McKean," Dr. Halbur said. "He wasn’t just a member of these organizations, he was passionate about and highly involved in the role and impact organizations such as the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, US Animal Health Association and others played in advancing animal agriculture and particularly influencing policies that shape the future of animal agriculture." Dr. McKean served as president of several of these organizations including the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Association of Extension Veterinarians, National Institute for Animal Agriculture. Dr. McKean has been recognized with many awards including the Honorary Iowa Master Pork Producer award from the IPPA, the Extension Veterinarian of the Year from the Association of Extension Veterinarians, the Howard Dunne Memorial Award from the AASV, the Master in Pork Production award from the National Hog Farmer Magazine, and in 2012 he received the President’s Service Award from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. McKean was born in New York City and grew up in central Illinois. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois (1970) and a master's degree in veterinary pathology from Michigan State University (1973), and the Juris Doctor degree from Drake University (1988).
"There are likely few other veterinarians in the United States that have a better understanding of global pork production and perhaps no one who is better networked with international leaders and innovators in swine health and production," Dr. Halbur said. " Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the stakeholders we serve have lost a great friend and scholar who will be missed dearly by our faculty and the veterinary profession and pork producers we serve."