Dr. Hadi Mansouri poses in his office with his Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award

Dr. Hadi Mansouri in his office. 

June 14, 2022
Story and photo by Jens Odegaard

Dr. Hadi Mansouri’s office wall is covered in just some of the numerous awards from his 42 years teaching gross and microscopic anatomy. They are from several universities, but many have been earned in the last 13 years that he’s taught at the Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine.

In May, he added the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award to the collection. It’s an honor that goes to one individual at each veterinary college or school in the United States or the Caribbean and is considered the preeminent educator award at each institution. 

Awardees are nominated and voted on by the students. “Dr. Mansouri has shown our class many times that he truly cares about us learning the material and succeeding,” wrote one student in the nomination package. Another added that Dr. Mansouri “purely enjoys teaching and giving us all the resources he can. With every question he demonstrates enjoyment in answering. He sees every opportunity as a chance to teach.”

Dr. Mansouri is an instructor of gross and microscopic anatomy and he’s taught both in the veterinary field and also in human medicine. “To me, teaching anatomy is the most enjoyable and challenging activity. The real excitement is to study and discover the whole body both grossly and under microscope,” he said. 

He strives to pass both his knowledge and passion along to his students. “My overall goal as a teacher is to provide lectures that are challenging, understandable and accurate,” Dr. Mansouri said. “I always try hard to make learning very exciting by combining basic materials with clinical cases.”

Yet, beyond helping students master the subject material, it’s his deep and abiding care for students, including his willingness to help after hours and on weekends, that stands out most. 

In nomination comments, students were unanimous in mentioning this human connection. “Dr. Mansouri goes above and beyond for all students,” a student wrote. “Especially those who need a little more help than others. He's raising us as the best doctors we can be!” Another added: “Dr. Mansouri is an insightful professor and helpful mentor. He is always there for his students and never turns down the opportunity to help us learn more about vet med.” 

This approach is rooted in his overall teaching philosophy. “I see each of my students as an individual with hopes, dreams, strengths and vulnerabilities. In my class, each student is treated as an essential member of the class, a person capable of success with something important to contribute,” Dr. Mansouri said. “I always try to have a lecture room in which respect for each other is the guiding principle. Students should feel confident enough to share their thoughts and feelings. I try to create a scientific atmosphere where a mistake can be seen as an opportunity to learn, rather than a failure. I believe this way of interaction helps students to enhance their understanding of materials that they need to know.” 

Thanks to his instruction, hundreds of future veterinarians learn the fundamentals of anatomy needed to provide medical care to the countless animals they’ll treat during their careers. Just as importantly, they learn to value themselves and to savor each victory and to learn from each setback. When asked what his advice to a graduating student would be, Dr. Mansouri answered:

“Remember to celebrate the smallest accomplishments. If you lose sight of your daily path, then your goals aren’t as joyful. Be true to yourself, your passions, and your long-term goals, but realize there are many ways to reach your goals, not just one path. What may look like setbacks can be the best lessons in life. See challenges as opportunities and never stop learning. Finally, always work hard and work smart. Remember the people who helped you get this far.”

For many students, Dr. Mansouri will be one of those people.