TOPEKA, Kan. (October 27, 2000) – One of the most recognizable names in the veterinary profession, Dr. John L. (Jack) Mara, is retiring. Dr. Mara’s career as a veterinarian spans nearly 50 years, highlighted by 21 years with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. A graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Dr. Mara had a successful career in private practice in his native New York before joining Hill’s in 1979. While with the Topeka-based company, Dr Mara became the leading voice in advocating the importance of clinical nutrition to both the veterinary academic community and his practitioner colleagues.
Dr. Mara was instrumental in establishing clinical nutrition as a teaching topic in veterinary colleges by helping create more than 19 graduate-Ph.D. residencies. During his tenure as Director of Veterinary Affairs at Hill’s, Mara created and instituted a program to establish a nutrition curriculum in veterinary colleges across the country. Many graduates of these residency programs have joined veterinary college faculties, teaching the next generation of veterinary students and advancing small animal clinical nutrition.
He was also instrumental in increasing the awareness of the importance of nutrition in clinical practice through the creation of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition to which both he and Hill’s founder, Dr. Mark Morris, Sr. were awarded Honorary Diplomat status in 1994. He is a recipient of the President’s Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as well.
Dr. Mara created the Hill’s Veterinary Affairs Department, a group of veterinary teaching experts who have provided clinical nutrition lectures to over 31 veterinary colleges across the United States and Canada. This department, of which Dr. Mara served as the first director, also provides seminars in clinical nutrition to practicing veterinarians across the country.
“I am grateful to Hill’s for giving me the freedom to develop programs to serve the veterinary profession and to aid veterinarians in providing the best medical care for their patients,” Mara said recently. “Every animal suffering from disease can benefit from the addition of quality nutrition to its treatment program.”
“Jack has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the knowledge of veterinary clinical nutrition,” said Bob Wheeler, Hill’s Chairman and CEO. “Through Jack’s expertise and leadership, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has been firmly established as a source of accurate, reliable nutrition information for the veterinary profession and for the pet-owning community. Although he will no longer be with us on a day to day basis, his contributions will be felt throughout the company for many years to come.”
Colleagues and friends of Dr. Mara will have the opportunity to celebrate his career at a dinner in his honor on Saturday, November 4, 2000 at Heritage Hall, the Kansas Expo Center in Topeka, Kan.
“I never did anything at Hill’s by myself,” Mara said. “There have been many people through the years who believed in me and championed my ideas to the leaders of the company.” Of all the people who played a role in his career, Mara is quick to credit his “friend, mentor and inspiration,” Mark Morris, Jr. “If it wasn’t for Mark Morris, there wouldn’t be a Jack Mara,” he said. “Mark, Sr. developed the first products and Mark, Jr. created the rest.”
Dr. Mara’s spirit will live on at Hill’s because the company has established the Dr. John L. Mara award, presented annually to the member of the Hill’s field sales force who demonstrates the qualities of “innovation, commitment and leadership” that are hallmarks of the award’s namesake.
His retirement plans include learning Spanish and “after 43 years of ownership, learning to play my guitar.” One of his top priorities is to write a book on his experiences along with having plenty of time to travel.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. manufactures Science Diet® brand pet foods, sold through veterinarians and finer pet food retailers, and Prescription Diet® brand pet foods, therapeutic nutrition products available only through veterinarians. Founded more than 50 years ago by one veterinarian’s unique commitment to pet nutrition and well being, Hill’s® follows its mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets by producing the most scientifically advanced, highest quality pet foods available.