Dr. Ronnie Martin, founding dean of Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, has retired, according to the university. Martin served the school for four years.
“He was the perfect person for us,” said Liberty Provost Ron Hawkins, reached by phone Thursday, adding he’s sad to see him go.
Dr. David Klink, chair of the department of specialty medicine and associate professor of ophthalmology, has been serving as interim dean since Martin’s departure earlier this month.
According to Hawkins, Martin was “indispensable,” leading the school through the process of getting its initial provisional accreditation, establishing the curriculum, and hiring the faculty and staff.
Hawkins said Martin, who has dealt with recent health problems, left with plans to move to Arkansas, where his daughter is founding a brand-new medical school.
“He’s going to have a much easier life teaching and advising his daughter on the startup and spending time with his grandchildren,” Hawkins said.
He said the school also is sad to lose Martin’s wife, Sherri, an administrator with the College of Medicine who, along with her husband, played a critical role in helping the school gain provisional accreditation and set up important medical partnerships.
The college gained provisional accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation in 2013. That makes the school eligible for full accreditation by the time the first student-doctors graduate in 2018, according to a Thursday news release.
In 2014, the school signed a 30-year affiliation agreement with Centra Health. In the agreement, Centra maintains its past commitment to provide clinical rotations for 80 students at a time from Liberty’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Centra’s inpatient and outpatient areas; LUCOM provides Centra with medical education support in the form of staff and faculty.
“I think the community will benefit tremendously,” Martin said at the time.
The school also has established partnerships with a variety of health care providers across the state, including hospitals in southern and southwest Virginia, where LUCOM’S third-year class will do their rotations, according to a news release earlier this summer.
Hawkins said Martin shaped the school in terms of pushing a mission of helping the disadvantaged and treating the whole person, and the school will continue with that legacy.
The search for a new dean is underway through a national search firm.
Hawkins said he is looking for an osteopathic doctor and leader with experience with medical education and talent in communicating with students, medical faculty and the larger medical community.