Heritage College honors osteopathic pioneer in dedication ceremony

Published: July 5, 2023 Author: Staff reports

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine honored the life and career of the late osteopathic manipulative medicine trailblazer Robert C. Fulford, D.O., on April 14 during a dedication ceremony held in Heritage Hall.

Students, faculty, University leadership and admirers of Dr. Fulford were on hand, along with his son Richard Graff Fulford, for the unveiling of the Robert C. Fulford, D.O., Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Lab.  

“It brings me great joy when I consider that every Athens campus medical student from this point forward will come to know Robert Fulford’s name and his contributions to the osteopathic medical field as they attend classes in this space,” said Ken Johnson, D.O., executive dean of the Heritage College and OHIO’s chief medical affairs officer, at the ceremony.

Richard Graff Fulford donated $700,000 to the Heritage College and created the Robert C. Fulford, D.O., Endowment Fund to support osteopathic manipulative medicine programs in the college. The endowment will be created through a residual bequest in Fulford’s will at a future date and is currently estimated at $300,000. The total donation is the largest individual gift in the history of the Heritage College. 

Robert Fulford was born in 1905 and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a graduate of the Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine, his practice focused primarily on osteopathic manipulative medicine and alternative medical remedies, such as cranial manipulation and cranial osteopathy. Over the course of his career, he developed innovative treatment methods, most notably those involving the percussion hammer. He authored three books and developed several methods to treat chronic illnesses, opening practices in Indiana, Ohio and Arizona, before retiring and living the rest of his life in Waverly, Ohio. While in Waverly, Robert developed relationships with faculty and students from the Heritage College, with whom he shared his medical knowledge. He died in 1997.

Richard Graff Fulford, who currently lives in Ontario, Canada, did not follow his father’s footsteps in medicine, and instead made much of his fortune through financial investments. 

“I’m very glad that I made a really good decision with the money I’ve been able to make to give it to this school,” Richard said at the dedication. “I’m really impressed by the educational programs that are going on here.”

Johnson presented Richard with the Honorary Alumnus Award, which is given to non-alumni who have brought honor, exemplary service and support to the Heritage College and its community of alumni, students, faculty and staff.

“I’m a real sucker for education,” Richard said. “I’ll spend money for education… and I thought, I think it would be a good place to send a lot of it here.”