VCOM College Catalog and Student Handbook

History of the College

Shortage of Rural Physicians The decision to establish the College was made after the leaders of the Harvey W. Peters Research Foundation and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) studied the health care needs of Virginia. That study revealed that the Southside and Southwest geographical areas of Virginia had an extreme health care shortage, with 30 counties considered to have critical shortages (HPSA) designations and greater than 70 having medically underserved areas (MUAs). The three existing medical schools in Virginia, being located in the eastern half of the state, were producing a relatively small number of primary care physicians or physicians for Southwest Virginia. Moreover, few graduates chose primary care. It was evident from the study that the health care shortage in Virginia would continue to grow. In addition, a 2002 national study, reported initially in Health Affairs, estimated a shortage of 50,000 physicians by 2010 and shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2020. The need was evident, and plans to establish the first College moved forward. John Rocovich, J.D., LL.M. was at this time the Rector for Virginia Tech and the President of the Harvey Peter’s Research Center. He and Sue Ellen Rocovich, DO, Ph.D. are considered the founders of the College. The Founding of the College VCOM is a non-profit, private 501 c-3 charitable organization initially funded by several foundations that were established by the late Marion Bradley Via to benefit Virginia Tech and Southwest Virginia. Marion Bradley's son, Edward Via, was the person instrumental in approving the dedication of funds to this initiative. John Rocovich J.D., LL.M. and Sue Ellen Rocovich, DO, Ph.D. were the individuals instrumental in founding the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, laying all the groundwork to establish the College. At the time of initial development, VCOM’s vision was to provide healthcare for Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and the Appalachian Region, and to promote biomedical research with Virginia Tech. In 2001, VCOM hired the founding President, James Wolfe, Ph.D. and the founding Dean, now Provost and President, Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO. This team of individuals developed the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Corporate Research Center of Virginia Tech including facility plans and building, academic program planning, accreditation approvals, and the hiring of the initial faculty and staff. The College opened its doors to the first students in fall of 2003 and graduated the first class in 2007. VCOM's founding Board of Directors included the following individuals: William Anderson, D.O.; Neal Castagnoli, Jr, Ph.D.; Roy E. Heaton, D.O.; Mark G. McNamee, Ph.D.; John G. Rocovich, Jr, J.D., LL.M., Chairman of the Board; Sue Ellen B. Rocovich, D.O., Ph.D.; Minnis Ridenhour, Ph.D.; James F. Wolfe, Ph.D. and the late, Eugene T. Zachary, D.O. and John Cifala, D.O. “The credit for the success of the founding of the first Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine belongs to more than the initial founders listed above. It also belongs to the first faculty and staff, the Board of Directors, the many supporters for their contributions, and most of all the first class of students (Class of 2007)." Adding a Branch Campus for the Carolinas In 2010, in response to the enrollment of a significant number of students from western North Carolina and South Carolina, VCOM founded the Carolinas campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. North and South Carolina had each performed workforce studies that demonstrated a tremendous need for primary care and for physicians who would practice in the western Appalachian region of NC and the upstate region of SC. Leadership from the city of Spartanburg and Spartanburg Regional Hospital began recruiting VCOM in 2008 to open the campus in Spartanburg and after much planning and preparation, the campus opened in 2011. Instrumental in founding the VCOM Carolina Campus was Chairman of the Board, John Rocovich, J.D., LL.M.; President James Wolfe, Ph.D.; Dean Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO; and Tim Kowalski DO.


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