LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) – The largest medical school in the Mountain State turns fifty.

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine celebrated the milestone birthday on Monday, December 12, 2022, with a Founder’s Day bash.

Governor Jim Justice, Babydog, and others helped celebrate a half-century of WVSOM training the next generation of doctors to serve the state of West Virginia.

WVSOM president Dr. James Nemitz said when the school was founded, there were less than eighty Osteopathic doctors in the state, but now thanks in large part to WVSOM, there are more than one thousand.

“We have populated the small towns and rural areas, and many of the cities, with our grads,” Dr. Nemitz told 59News. “And we’re proud of that. We’re proud of what we’ve contributed to the healthcare delivery in this state.”

Despite the growth of the School of Osteopathic Medicine over the last fifty years, the school remains consistently dedicated to its mission to provide healthcare to underserved communities here in the Mountain State.

Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White said she is proud of the relationship the city cultivated with WVSOM, and she is also proud that some of the best doctors all across the state get their training right here in Lewisburg.

“We have just been blessed with outstanding doctors that have come out of this school. The economic impact on our community has been great as well. We welcome our students and are excited every year when the new classes come in,” White said.

Although all four of the original founders of WVSOM are now deceased, their families were included as guests of honor at the ceremony.

Dr. Don Newell Jr., whose father Dr. Don Newell Sr. was one of the four founders, said watching the school he founded become one of the nation’s leaders in medical training was one of the great joys in his father’s life.

“It is wonderful. I wish Dad could have been here to see it, but he probably is seeing it from up high. But he would be very humbled and appreciate what’s happening,” said Newell Jr.”