Campbell officially dedicates the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine
BUIES CREEK — Jerry Wallace’s decade of leadership as president of Campbell University has been marked by tremendous accomplishments and milestones — from the construction of the Pope Convocation Center to bringing football back after a 52-year absence, and from the building and renovation of residence halls to the launching of several new programs.
But the new School of Osteopathic Medicine — North Carolina’s first new medical school in over 35 years which welcomed a charter class of 160 students this fall — is viewed by many as Wallace’s finest moment.
“His pinnacle achievement,” said Bob Barker, former chairman of the Board of Trustees and a longtime friend of Wallace. “And something that was not imaginable to me just three or four years ago.”
On Wednesday, Barker, the trustees and a large crowd of students, faculty, administration, friends and family gathered in the lobby of the building that houses Wallace’s pinnacle achievement to officially name the school the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. Portraits of Wallace and his wife, Betty Blanchard Wallace, were unveiled in the Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences, as was the new sign at the facility’s entrance bearing Wallace’s name.
Described by current Trustee Chairman Benjamin Thompson as an “architect of ideas” and a man who prefers to draw attention away from himself, a teary-eyed Wallace said he was humbled by Wednesday’s ceremony and proud of his association with the school he’s been with for over 43 years.
“We’re so grateful for the privilege and honor that has come to us today,” Wallace said. “Much has been said about our years here. We’ve enjoyed the days, months and years, but when things happen, it takes a team. And I look into the faces of people who’ve worked with us as a team day by day to cause everything to happen. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful life at Campbell. And we’ve enjoyed it all along the way.”
The events that led to Campbell’s medical school started with Wallace travelling to William Carey University in Mississippi just four years ago as part of a team reviewing the small school’s application to launch its own school of osteopathic medicine. Skeptical at the beginning, Wallace soon learned more about the osteopathic school model (which typically doesn’t require the construction of a large hospital, but, rather, partnerships with several hospitals in the surrounding region).
Not only did Wallace leave Mississippi confident William Carey would be successful with a medical school, but also confident that Campbell could do the same thing. He soon learned about North Carolina’s problems with health care, including how the state ranks 30th in the nation in physician density and how it and other states across the nation are facing a massive physician shortage in the next five to 10 years. In 2010, two years after approving a new physician assistant program, Campbell’s Board of Trustees, at the urging of Wallace, voted to authorize. a feasibility study on starting a school of osteopathic medicine.
Just over a year later, in December 2011, the university broke ground on the Levine Hall of Medical Sciences, a 96,500-square-foot state-of-the-art learning facility located less than half a mile from Campbell’s main campus. Less than two years later, Campbell celebrated its inaugural class of medical school students and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility.
“Dr. Wallace has a rare gift of vision and attention to detail and the ability to direct a project from conception to completion,” said Dr. John Kauffman, founding dean of the Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The dictionary defines ‘vision’ as ‘the act or power to anticipate that which will or may come to be … an experience in which an event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not always present, often under the influence of a divine agency.’ I think that definition fits Dr. Wallace very well.”
In addition to the medical school and physician assistant programs, Campbell’s entire health sciences curriculum has expanded during Wallace’s tenure. The school’s public health program was granted accreditation in 2012, and Campbell is currently seeking accreditation for new physical therapy and nursing programs.
Speaking on behalf of the school of medicine’s Class of 2017, class president Phillip Deal described the ways he and his peers have bonded and worked together during their first few months in their new surroundings. He thanked Wallace for his vision and said his class would do its best to make the university proud.
“Fifteen years from now,” Deal said, “when this is known as one of the best medical schools in the nation, it will all be because of Dr. Wallace’s commitment to raise a hall of medical science in the name of humility and service to the surrounding community, to North Carolina, to the nation and to the world.”
— story by Billy Liggett; photos by Bennett Scarborough
About Jerry Wallace: An ordained Baptist minister and a Rockingham native, Wallace earned his bachelor’s in English and government from East Carolina University, divinity and theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and graduate degrees in sociology and education from North Carolina State University, where he also earned his Doctor of Education. He joined Campbell in 1970 as an adjunct professor of sociology. Before becoming president, he served Campbell in a variety of roles, including chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, director of graduate studies and vice president for academic affairs and provost. He became Campbell University’s fourth president in 2003.
About Betty Wallace: Betty Blanchard Wallace, a native of Warsaw, earned her degree in education from Campbell in 1972. She taught kindergarten and first grade for 10 years and later served as the director of the Curriculum Materials Center at Campbell’s School of Education. She and her husband have three children — Betty Lynne Johnson, a graduate of Campbell University and Wake Forest University; McLain a two-time graduate of Wake Forest University; and Kelly McLamb, a graduate of Meredith College and UNC-Greensboro. They also have five grandchildren — Wallace, Catherine Stuart, Elizabeth, Isaac and Ronald Joseph.