A huge celebration took place on the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) campus during the installation ceremony of James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., the school’s seventh president.
The installation, which took place Sept. 28, is an official recognition of the school’s change in presidents and marks a new beginning for the institution. The formal ceremony included words of support from the WVSOM Board of Governors’ Chairman Charles Davis, D.O., and Alumni Association President Robert Olexo, D.O. Music was provided by the Greenbrier Valley Chorale and the Greenbrier Academy for Girls.
“It’s been an honor for me to take part in this selection process and see its completion with Dr. Nemitz as the seventh president,” Davis said. “The office of president and the word ‘honor’ just feel right in the same sentence. It’s an honor to hold a position of power, leadership and responsibility. I have no doubt that Dr. Nemitz will keep the honor and integrity of this great institution.”
Nemitz said he is humbled and filled with gratitude to serve as WVSOM’s next president. He thanked his parents for being such an integral part of shaping his values and ultimately passion for the school.
“There’s something special about people who are good parents, who raise their kids and let them go and become what they’re supposed to be. My parents did that. They gave me my work ethic and gave me my values,” Nemitz said during the formal installation.
The ceremony also focused on celebrating three main themes that included “honoring our heritage, living our mission and engaging our future.” WVSOM was founded on modest beginnings, but has risen to national prominence due to the dedicated hard work of many. The new president reiterated the importance of the past while also looking toward the future.
Nemitz explained the “Living our mission” initiative that encourages students, faculty, staff and alumni to immerse themselves in community service projects and share the work they are doing throughout the local area and state.
“We are a public institution and we are here to serve this great state and take care of the citizens of West Virginia. We have to live our mission every day. Many of our alumni are going back to their communities and serving others. We should be taking care of our neighbors, communities and recognizing the diversity and differences of opinion. We need to celebrate those differences and care for our communities,” he said.
“Living our mission” bandanas were given to all guests in order to highlight the sense of service among the WVSOM community.
“These are a symbol of what I’m going to challenge you with — to go out there and do something for somebody else,” Nemitz said. “I want to inaugurate a year of community service. So go out there and do something for your community.”
The informal celebration that followed included music by the Ramp Supper Band and RiverJam Band, dancing and West Virginia-focused dinner menu that paid homage to Mrs. Gwen Clingman, owner of the former Clingman’s restaurant in downtown Lewisburg. The early business of WVSOM was often conducted in her restaurant, and she is credited by many for providing nourishment of the body and soul to many students and their families over the years. WVSOM continues Mrs. Clingman’s legacy through the Gwen Clingman Scholarship award for a graduating student who has demonstrated a commitment to serve people and classmates unselfishly and humbly through community service.
Born and raised in New York City, Nemitz considers himself a West Virginian. He has strong family ties to the Greenbrier Valley, where he has resided for more than 30 years. He previously served for eight years as WVSOM’s vice president for administration and external relations, where he was integrally involved in accreditation, governmental relations, strategic planning and policymaking. Nemitz is a tenured professor of anatomy and served as the associate dean for preclinical education, overseeing the program from 2004 to 2010. Prior to that, he was the gross anatomy course coordinator, director of the Office of Rural Recruitment and Retention, faculty representative to the WVSOM Board of Advisors and Board of Governors, and chaired the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Advisory Council of Faculty. Nemitz has received numerous awards throughout his career, including West Virginia Professor of the Year (1999), the American Osteopathic Foundation’s Educator of the Year (2002) and the George W. Northup, D.O. Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Osteopathic Education (2005).