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Three campuses, one college, throw one three-way birthday party

(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 Thundering Herd.

“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 here.

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. CARE LEADS HERE.

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Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 01/28/2016