Alumni Tales: A different vision

December 12, 2018

Gray NeubauerGary Neubauer, ’78 DVM, didn’t seek a career in veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine found Neubauer as an undergraduate student in an unexpected place—majoring in broadcasting and communications at the University of Minnesota in the early 1970s. “I always had an interest in science,” he says, “and my roommates were both pre-vet and they said, ‘Why don’t you apply since you have a minor in Chemistry?’ And I said, ‘Jeepers, I bet that would be interesting!’ So as I finished my communications degree, I made sure I had all my requirements in line and I applied.”

Today, Neubauer does a lot of video and voice-over work for marketing materials at Zoetis, where he is senior manager of Dairy Technical Services. “I’m still using my broadcasting degree!” he says with a laugh. Neubauer has been with Zoetis (formerly Pfizer) since 1994, after spending 16 years building Nicollet–New Ulm Veterinary Clinic with classmates and fellow University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) alumni from the ground up.

But ever since entering the field, Neubauer has worked to look at veterinary medicine a little differently. 

“Our class got to go beyond the traditional style of practice, where you treat the individual animal, and look into herd health,” says Neubauer. He cites instructors he had at the CVM—including Al Leman from the Swine Program—as being instrumental in helping students look at production and food animal medicine from a different perspective. “The instructors we had at that time were looking at the future of the food animal industry, which I was really interested in. They were the ones who told us to look at production, data analytics, economics, and the return on investment for producers.”

Upon graduating, Neubauer moved to New Ulm, Minn. He brought with him initial programs in swine herd health and dairy herd health that were valuable to the area, the state of Minnesota, and beyond.

Decades later, in 1998, Neubauer traveled to New Zealand for a Minnesota dairy trade tour, where he represented the dairy veterinarians of the state of Minnesota. John Fetrow, DVM, MBA—then a professor at the CVM and previously a mentor of Neubauer’s—represented the U of MN, and Mark Davis of Davis Family Dairies represented Minnesota dairy producers. The trio spent a week looking at the dairy industry and getting to know each other. “Later, when John had the idea of developing an education center on a working dairy farm, he approached me and asked what I thought and I said it sounded outstanding,” recalls Neubauer.

Neubauer has consistently dedicated much of his time to the Dairy Education Center at Davis Family Dairies in New Sweden, Minn., with whom the CVM recently just re-signed a new five-year agreement. He was also instrumental in helping to develop the programming that helps give veterinary students from across the country, including those from the CVM, hands-on experience in dairy production medicine, along with crucial communication skills to carry with them throughout their careers.

“Gary is a proud University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus who has given a lot back to the CVM over the course of his career in the dairy industry,” says Erin Royster, DVM, ’14 MS, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine. “He was instrumental in bringing Zoetis on as a founding donor for the Dairy Education Center. Since then, he has brought countless groups of veterinarians and dairy professionals to the Center for tours and continuing education programs that have promoted our dairy faculty and advanced our reputation in the industry.”

Neubauer has also served as president of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and president of the National Mastitis Council (an international organization involving over 40 countries), and was named Minnesota Veterinarian of the Year in 2000. With retirement on the horizon, Neubauer looks back at his role in dairy education and veterinary medicine in the state of Minnesota with reverence.

“The U of M has always been able to attract great dairy instructors, such as Drs. John Fetrow, Ralph Farnsworth, Jeff Reneau, Sandra Godden, Ricardo Chebel, Erin Royster, and Gerard Cramer, who give students the best hands-on education at the Dairy Education Center,” says Neubauer. “To be a small part of helping train some of these students makes you feel really good—it makes you feel like you have contributed something to both their education and the industry at large! Hopefully, these students will have a significant impact on both the dairy industry and veterinary medicine.”