A Pinnacle Achievement

Campbell dedicates the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine


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 Oct. 30, 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 as 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 the 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, he was also confident that Campbell could do the same thing. He soon learned about North Carolina’s problems with health care — 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.”

Photo by Bennett Scarborough