A conversation with Dr. John Corsale

By Lisa Herrmann

Starting a new job and getting to know people is hard no matter when you do it. Add in a pandemic, and it’s downright near impossible. Dr. John Corsale has done just that—on February 1st, he jumped in as the College of Veterinary Medicine’s newest associate dean and teaching hospital director.

Hailing from Northeast Ohio, Corsale has a varied background. He’s earned three degrees—a bachelor’s in chemical engineering, a DVM from Ohio State University, and an MBA from Wake Forest University—and has lived all over: from Ohio to North Carolina and, most recently, steps from the beach in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. His career has taken an equally diverse path. He started out as a sales rep for Dow Chemical (chemical engineering degree at work) and then, after making a complete career change and getting his DVM, practiced small animal medicine in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a few years before transitioning into the corporate side of veterinary medicine, where he has spent the last 25 years. I Zoomed with Dr. Corsale the week before he started, hoping to bring a little of his style and personality to the CVM community.

LH: What’s your leadership philosophy and style?

JC:  My leadership style has definitely evolved and changed as I’ve aged and gained experience. I have learned to listen more and talk less. And that it’s important to understand the everyone’s perspective and work as team. At the end of the day, most people leave organizations not because of the place but, rather, because of people. Knowing that, it’s important to build personal relationships and make sure people feel heard. I will always have an open-door policy. Everyone should know that I will always listen. I will then make decisions, and not every decision will go everyone’s way, but I will have taken all viewpoints into consideration.

You’ve spent a big part of your career on the corporate side of veterinary medicine. How do you think that experience will benefit the CVM?

A few things that I think will be an asset: one is that over the years I’ve learned that having the tenacity to just keep going in the face of change is vital. Especially in times like we’ve been experiencing, being able to put your head down and keep moving forward is what keeps an organization steady. Another thing that I feel will be a huge asset is the wide variety of people that I’ve worked with, managed, hired, and counseled over the years. I’ve been around the block a few times, and there’s not a whole lot I haven’t seen. Lastly, I have intimate knowledge of what “the other side” is like. I hope that I’ll be able to give career advice to students since I’ve seen what it’s like out there, and I know I can help with business-related decisions—vendors, financial analysis, and such—because I’ve done that on a daily basis.

What are the things you’ll tackle in the first month? Six months? Longer-term?

Well, in the first several weeks, I’m going to spend my time getting the big picture of the College and hospital. I plan on talking to as many people as possible, doing some job shadowing, looking at each part of the College to learn how everything works as one part of the whole. Over the years I’ve learned it helps to know the big picture. As far as goals, I think we need to think a lot about all types of diversity and how we can make an impact there. Also, successfully navigating the class size increase and curriculum revision, making sure we embrace the latest technologies and stay up to date with all our equipment—both on the clinic floor and in our workflows. Lastly, I know that we need to examine work/life balance and do what we can to continually improve and make the CVM the best place to work.

Corsale’s grandchildren get ready for Halloween.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy being a dad to my two daughters and a good husband to my wife (she works on that every day). I like the outdoors—hiking, exploring the area. And I love live music and anxiously look forward to when we can enjoy concerts again.

Do you have any pets?

I have one dog: a one-year-old Boston terrier named Jerry Garcia.

Favorite sports team?

I love all sports, from soccer to college basketball to football. It’s hard to pick a favorite team. As a kid, I loved the Steelers. Now, obviously, I’m a Georgia Bulldog!

Favorite snack food?

Well, I’m trying not to do that as COVID-19 stands for the 19 pounds I’ve gained throughout the pandemic. But probably the thing I can’t resist are those buttery Scottish shortbread cookies that come out around the holidays.

What’s the best movie ever?

Beloved family pet, Jerry Garcia

Another tough one to pick. I love Coen Brothers movies and the Big Lebowski.

My hero is…

John Lennon or Jerry Garcia.

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