Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott

I’ve developed a strategy of recording for posterity the outstanding careers of some of my professional colleagues. Leo is one of the very best.

See: Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott – Camden Equine Centre

March 16, 2021

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott is one of the world’s most highly acclaimed equine veterinarians. His expertise in a vast range of equine veterinary fields has led him to the most esteemed role, we are incredibly honoured that Leo calls Camden Equine Centre home.

The title of Emeritus Professor was given to Leo when he retired from his position as Dean of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. Leo continues to work part-time from his office at CEC, his modest nature has led to many students not realising they are being taught by a living legend. To many, Leo is a friendly and composed character who volunteers his time to mentor vets and students as well as have valuable input in research projects or difficult cases.

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott, has been an official FEI Event Veterinarian since 1977 and has officiated at many elite championships including four World Equestrian Games. He has been an official veterinarian at six Olympic Games (1988-2008). He was President of the Veterinary Commission at Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) and has been Veterinary Technical Delegate at Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). Professor Jeffcott was elected Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee and a member of the Bureau in 1998 and served until 2006. He was then made an Honorary Member of the Bureau and was the first veterinarian to receive that honour. He held the post of Dean at the Veterinary School in the University of Cambridge (1991-2004) and then at the University of Sydney (2004-2009).

With countless publications and research papers, there is a fair chance that most Australian equine vets have learnt something from Emeritus Professor Jeffcott. Leo has been a guest speaker and lectured worldwide but one of the most memorable speaking engagements was at the very first Bain Fallon conference held in 1978 over four days, Professor Jeffcott was the sole presented of 24 topics!

Leo’s lifetime of dedication to educating the next generation of veterinarians along with his research to advance the health and welfare of horses is something that all horse owners can benefit and be thankful for.

Prof Leo Jeffcott – Outgoing AVEC Chair

See: Prof Leo Jeffcott – Outgoing AVEC Chair – AVBC

Prof Leo Jeffcott stepped down as Chair of the Australasian Veterinary Examination Committee at the end of 2020.

Professor Jeffcott graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1966 and married his lifetime partner Tisza in 1969; and is the proud father of 2 daughters, Julie and Michele and a very much adored granddaughter Stina. His role as a committed father coincided with a distinguished professional career that took him and his family around the world to establish a legacy that left very little to be achieved.

Professor Jeffcott is a Specialist in Equine Medicine and remains a gifted clinician. Amongst other senior appointments, he was the Dean of 2 internationally renowned veterinary schools (Cambridge and Sydney) and Head Veterinarian at 5 Olympic games and countless other International Federation Equestre Internationale events. His formidable research program was funded at one time or another by most of the reputable funding bodies in the equine field. He was supervisor of 22 PhD students amongst many other clinical postgraduates undertaking specialist training, author or co-author of more than 250 publications in refereed journals, invited speaker at most of the premier equine veterinary conferences around the world and recipient of most honours and awards offered to distinguished equine veterinary clinicians and scientists. This brief synopsis offers only a snapshot of a lifetime of achievement.

During his career, Professor Jeffcott served as Chair, or as a member of an exhaustive list of committees and organisations. After retiring as Dean of the University of Sydney, his last professional commitment has been to Chair the Australasian Veterinary Examination Committee (AVE). Some may say he left some of his best work for last. During his ten years as Chair, he instigated the change in name of the National Veterinary Examination to the Australasian Veterinary Examination to be more inclusive of our New Zealand colleagues. He led the implementation of a full review of the AVE examination. Starting with the MCQ examination, he developed a blueprint of all examination questions by discipline and disease state so AVEC could monitor gaps in the question bank. He then engaged an external full-service provider of psychometric test development, test delivery and test management solutions (EPEC). The aim was to provide a statistically robust MCQ examination and establish a fair and comprehensive examination model that could be delivered securely online at national and international venues. He has addressed the massive task of growing and reviewing the MCQ question bank to current standards.

Professor Jeffcott has progressed this review of the examination process to the practical examinations. The examination process has been streamlined to reduce the number of examinations and stress on the candidates while maintaining a comprehensive examination process. He has led the committee to revise the examination process, introduce a more robust examination and assessment process that can be reviewed after the examination, if necessary.

The new examination process has successfully been subjected to international peer review and approval. As Professor Jeffcott stands down as Chair at the end of 2020, after ten years at the helm, his tenure has arguably been one of the most productive in AVE history. The COVID crisis has delayed the implementation of the new practical examination but has placed the AVE in an excellent position to navigate these difficult times.

Perhaps Professor Jeffcott’s legacy throughout his career is to leave things better than he found them.

Professor Andrew Dart, on behalf of AVEC

The birth of the Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures

June 15, 2018, marks the 40th anniversary of the Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures (Bain Fallon), one of the AVA’s flagship conferences.

Emerging from ground breaking equine veterinary education events in Australia during the 1970s, the idea for Bain Fallon was conceived and championed by two consecutive serving Presidents of the Australian Equine Veterinarian Association (AEVA now EVA) – Geoff Hazard (1977) and Bill Howey (1978).

Geoff and Bill’s collaborative vision for Bain Fallon was to significantly advance the professional development of equine veterinarians in Australia and to establish through EVA an international network of experts and an annual forum through which knowledge and research could be shared. The lecture series was named in memory of two most eminent equine veterinarians renowned for their professional excellence and mentorship, who had died in 1974 – Murray Bain, who was Bill Howey’s former employer, and Pater Fallon, who was an associate and former employer of Geoff Hazard.

Every year, a traditional homage to the two namesakes continues in the form of reprints of their obituaries in Bain Fallon conference proceedings.

Geoff, Bill and Audrey Best (EVA’s first administrative officer) set a date for 15–16 June 1978 and began fundraising for Bain Fallon. Two successful equine conferences were held, the first, in Sydney, featured equine specialists Professor David Hutchins, Reuben Rose, Phil Knight and Bill Howey, and the second event (March 1977) featured Percy Sykes, Professor Bill Pickett (Colorado State University, USA), Professor Cliff Irvine (NZ), Margaret Evans (NZ), Bill Stewart and again, Bill Howey.

In late 1977, John Morgan, an associate of Bill Howey’s, met with Leo Jeffcott of the Animal Health Equine Research Station in Newmarket, UK. In Leo Jeffcott’s words “John asked me for a list of lectures that I could give to the AEVA, and I came up with 21 topics thinking that they would choose 6. It never occurred to me they would ask me to do the lot. However, it was a great challenge to present 21 lectures to such an enthusiastic and attentive audience. I finally lost my voice after the discussion of the last lecture. It was my family’s first visit to Oz, and the greatest conference I have ever been to. Despite the obstructive columns, the Wentworth Hotel was a great venue and we had no problems with slide projection – I have never shown so many slides in my life. The event organisation from AEVA and Audrey Best was outstanding. I still have a copy of the three booklets given to delegates as proceedings.”

It is difficult to calculate the exponential opportunities that can be created from knowledge sharing and generous mentoring. In writing this article, it’s clear that Murray Bain’s and Peter Fallon’s dedication to professional excellence and their approach to collegiality was amplified 4 years after their deaths by an annual internationally credentialed conference which brings together over 200 delegates and 50 trade exhibitors.

In 2018, the Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures will be held 15-19 July in Sydney, at the newly refurbished Hyatt Regency, Darling Harbour. It will offer concurrent streams of practical clinical sessions, world-class lectures, a program of popular social events and a vibrant trade show.

This article was written with the assistance of Dr Bill Howey and Professor Emeritus, Leo Jeffcott of Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney. My thanks to both for their time and effort in contributing to and fact-checking this article.

Gemma Nardone
Communications Coordinator

This article appeared in the Australian Veterinary Journal: Aust Vet J 2018;96(3):N17