April 25, 2014
By Geneva Mueller
Dwayne Hamar's educational journey began in a one-room schoolhouse in Central Nebraska where he had two other classmates, at the most. While his foray into academia had humble beginnings, he has made a dignified name for himself at Colorado State University as an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Hamar was first hired into the microbiology and pathology department and began doing research in the diagnostic lab where he still works today. His work with the Diagnostic Medicine Center used to take up only about eight to 10 hours of his time per week; he now supervises a few technicians and the lab as a whole employs over 100 people.
Hamar obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from what was then known as Kearney State College, now University of Nebraska at Kearney. He grew up on a farm with four younger brothers and sisters.
“Something that was unique about my education — we didn’t have kindergarten,” he recalls. “I started first grade when I was five. I was two months past 17 when I graduated from high school; two months past 21 when I graduated from college. So when your dad tells you when you get out of high school that ‘if you’re not in college by fall, you’re on your own,’ I don’t think it gives you much choice but to go to college.”
Hamar’s natural propensity for chemistry paired with his interest in biology and livestock led him to the field of biochemistry. He obtained his master’s and doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, focusing specifically on the metabolism of ruminant animals.
Hamar’s role with CSU evolved with advancements in the field of diagnostic medicine. Three years after he started working at CSU in 1964, Hamar was asked to teach biochemistry to veterinary students, because his education provided him with a good scientific base in physiology, bacteriology, basic chemistry and biochemistry.
He spent a year teaching biochemistry in Iran in the 1970s, but moved back once the possibility of a revolution became more of a reality. He also spent 12 years advising students in the College of Veterinary Medicine, an experience that he enjoyed because of the contact it gave him with students and faculty.
Nowadays, Hamar supervises the chemistry and toxicology lab and works as the quality manager for the entirety of the diagnostic lab. He has seen a lot of changes, at the University and within the field.
“The College of Veterinary Medicine has been very progressive in terms of being a leader within the country in their approach to veterinary medicine and the requirements for admissions,” Hamar said. “The types of students that are admitted and the kind of education they get has seen a lot of change. Part of that is just a change in society over that period of time.”
Advances in the field of diagnostic medicine have led to an increase in specificity and precision. And while that also means that veterinary medicine has gotten more expensive, as has human medicine, it brings about better diagnoses that serve both a scientific and pragmatic purpose.
In his 50 years with the University, Hamar has had many diverse roles and experiences. Having truly found his niche working in the diagnostic lab, he has been able to fully explore his strengths.
“It’s important to understand that different people have different strengths,” he said. “We made a decision in the department a few years back that the strength of the unit was a component of each individual; that each individual didn’t need to have their strengths in the same place because then the whole department wasn’t strong … and so that’s the way it is.”
In his spare time, Hamar enjoys spending quality time with his wife at their home which sits on 300 acres. They have 20 horses and an indoor riding facility for when it is too windy to be outside. He has a genuine love and appreciation for the Western way of life, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s been a fun ride,” he said of his experience with the University which has been a definitive aspect throughout the course of his life.
Celebrate! CSU Milestones honors University employees for years of service and retirement, and will be held this year on April 30, 4 p.m., in the Hilton Fort Collins Ballroom. View the listing of honorees.
This is your opportunity to join fellow colleagues for this special all-University gathering to recognize, celebrate and congratulate the people who are retiring or have reached service milestones. Enjoy the new format for the program allowing greater opportunity for interactive participation and mingling with the honorees. For more opportunities to celebrate those that have made the CSU community what it is today, be sure to also attend the Best Teacher Awards on Monday, April 28, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Drake Center and Celebrate!CSU Awards on Tuesday, April 29, 3-5 p.m. at the Lory Student Center Theatre.