(ATHENS, Ohio — Aug. 24, 2015) A 40th birthday bash can be a
momentous occasion, although most aren’t as big as the party the
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine threw to
celebrate turning 40 on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Close to 400 students,
faculty and staff turned out at the Heritage College’s three
academic campuses and several clinical campus sites throughout the
state, dressed in specially designed 40th anniversary T-shirts. In a
celebration that connected sites by teleconference, the college
kicked off what’s planned as a yearlong celebration of its first
four decades, with a look back and a look into the future.
On Aug. 18, 1975, then-Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes signed into law
Amended Ohio House Bill 229, which created the state’s first college
of osteopathic medicine at Ohio University. The new college, which
was launched less than a year after the bill’s enactment, was housed
in some empty Ohio University dormitories.
Speaking in Athens, Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth
Johnson, D.O., noted that when the college welcomed its first class
in 1976, it contained only 24 students. By comparison, the class of
2019, which began classes this July, is 10 times that size, with
students in Athens, Cleveland and Dublin. “Who knew?” Johnson
marveled. “Who would ever have known that that would happen?”
One member of the Heritage College’s first class, psychiatrist
Ron Moomaw, D.O. (’80), attended the birthday party by
teleconference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he
now serves as flight surgeon.
“I’m completely amazed to think that 40 years ago, I started with 24
classmates in one classroom,” Moomaw said. “My affiliation with this
school has led me on a career I could never have imagined. It makes
me very, very proud to be part of this group.”
Johnson noted the parallels between the class of 1980 and the
inaugural classes at the college’s new campuses in Dublin (which
opened in 2014) and Cleveland (which opened earlier this year). In
each case, he suggested, the students were “pioneers” who took an
extraordinary leap of faith, walking into a medical school that had
just come into existence.
The college’s expansion, he added, comes at a time when
osteopathic medicine is surging in importance and influence in
health care. When he earned his D.O. degree, Johnson said, there
were 15 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States; now
there are more than twice that number.
“This is an incredible journey that we’re all on together,”
Johnson told the crowd. “The best is yet to come.” He also praised
the college’s many partners around the state, noting, “You don’t
open a medical school without a lot of help from a lot of people.”
Johnson stressed that the Aug. 18 party is just the kickoff of a
yearlong 40th anniversary celebration. On Sept. 12, the Heritage
College will serve as the university partner for the Ohio University
football team’s 2015 home opener against Marshall University’s
“This is a truly historic moment,” he said. “I’m so happy to have
all of you involved in that.”
To view a photo album from the party on Facebook, click
The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a
leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are
prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state
and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni
practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio.
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