The groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's new central Ohio campus included the planting of a Yoshino cherry tree, the same species of tree that lines the Hocking River on the Athens Campus.
Aug 2, 2013
From staff reports
Nearly 100 Ohio University supporters gathered on this bright, crisp morning to mark the beginning of yearlong renovations to the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's new central Ohio campus.
The event was both celebratory and historic, as friends, officials, faculty and staff of the college gathered on the lawn of the college's new campus, where they learned about the importance of this site for the future of patient care in Ohio and helped plant a very special tree to mark the commencement of construction.
Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O., told the gathering that with the new campus, the college builds upon its track record of success in training physicians for Ohio, especially those who choose careers in primary care, and those who choose to work in underserved communities. "We now approach the beginning of our fifth decade with a new campus, new partnerships and expanded kinships with our longtime partners."
Speakers and guests planted a Yoshino cherry tree, the same tree as those in the grove that lines the Hocking River on the Athens campus. Dr. Johnson explained that the trees were a gift to Ohio University from Chubu University, Japan, in 1979, and that their spectacular spring blooms have become iconic of the university.
"Today those trees are thriving. They are much loved, and every spring they remind us of new beginnings, friendships, growth and renewal," Dr. Johnson said. "That is what we celebrate here today."
Dublin Mayor Timothy Lecklider said the new campus will enhance the city's reputation as a leading health care community in central Ohio. With the college's purchase of the property last July, Dublin donated 75 acres surrounding the new campus for future development.
Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis noted that with partners like the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and OhioHealth, the campus will fulfill a vision of increasing the number of primary care physicians who will stay in central Ohio to practice, especially in underserved communities.
"Just think about the hundreds of thousands of people over the course of the life of this campus whose lives will be touched, whose lives will be saved, because of the many physicians who will graduate from the college," Dr. McDavis said. "So this is a special day for Ohio University, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the City of Dublin, and most importantly for the citizens of our great state who will benefit from the work at this college."
The campus is funded in part through the transformational gift of $105 million from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations in 2011, one of the largest private donations ever directed to higher education in Ohio. The gift was intended to address pressing health delivery issues across the state and nation, including the shortage of primary care physicians.
"Ohio University and its Heritage College have a rich tradition of serving Ohio," said Richard Vincent, president and chief executive officer of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations. "The extension of the Heritage College to central Ohio next year, and to the Cleveland area in another year, addresses the need for increasing the number of primary care physicians and will increase the availability of health care for future generations of Ohio citizens," Mr. Vincent added, referencing the campus in northeast Ohio in conjunction with Cleveland Clinic, which is slated to open in 2015.
Mr. Vincent announced that just a day prior to the ceremony, the college accepted the first of 50 students who will begin classes next July: a central Ohio resident and 2014 graduate from the University of Notre Dame.
David Blom, president and chief executive officer of OhioHealth, the preeminent education partner for this site, said that primary care physicians are best suited for managing the teams of providers that will be crucial to the future delivery of primary health care.
"Increasingly they will be the captains of the ship, the leaders of the team. In order for them to spend more time with their patients, they will need a strong team around them," Mr. Blom said. "Being able to train physicians for that experience, for that responsibility, is part of the vision for this new medical school, and to achieve that with students who are from Ohio and who want to stay in Ohio is even more exciting."
Mr. Blom also lauded the new dean for the campus, William Burke, D.O., a 1988 alumnus of the college and, until recently, vice president for medical education at OhioHealth's Doctors Hospital. Dr. Burke said that, in conjunction with many partners, the campus will make central Ohio a national destination for osteopathic medical education.
"We have a great demand for our program. This year there were over 4,000 applicants for the 140 positions, and many of those applicants were from central Ohio," said Dr. Burke. He added that for the "many excellent candidates who want to train here and stay to practice, this campus will offer an extraordinary opportunity, including exposure to a wide variety of physician expertise and clinical experiences, thanks to our central Ohio partners."
"You'll see significant changes when you come for the grand opening about a year from now," said Dr. Burke. "The construction site behind the fences will have become a cutting-edge medical education facility."
Formerly a business park, the three existing buildings on the 14.8 acre site are being redeveloped to include a new simulated operating theater and emergency room, imaging labs, a café and spaces for student support, activities and study.
Sandra Anderson, chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and a resident of Dublin, said the Dublin community welcomes the Heritage College and the new campus.
"Everyone is excited to see the Ohio University name down the street," she said. "The community is enthusiastic about the growth for Dublin and the role this campus will play in improving health care in central Ohio."