Missouri’s 55th governor, the Honorable Jeremiah W. “Jay” Nixon, shared the stage with ATSU-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine’s class of 2009 graduates at the College’s commencement ceremony on May 16.
As the graduates looked on in Baldwin Hall Auditorium at Truman State University, Governor Nixon delivered his keynote speech, focusing on the healthcare crisis in Missouri and the role of osteopathic medicine in creating jobs and providing better care to all citizens.
“As you bring your healing touch to your patients, you’ll be helping us turn the corner on both this healthcare crisis and our economic crisis,” he said. “You’ll be helping us ensure that our workforce is healthy and ready to take on the challenges of the 21st-century economy.”
In light of the storms that ravaged parts of Kirksville just two days before the ceremony, Governor Nixon praised the hard work of the community as they labored to recover and rebuild what was lost.
“The storm certainly didn’t go easy on Kirksville, as my emergency management team and I saw on Thursday when we surveyed the damage ourselves,” he said. “But I know the folks here in Kirksville. I know you will come together, as you always have before. And my administration will be there to support you every step of the way.”
The new graduates represent nine different countries, including Kenya and Lithuania. While the majority of students received doctorates of osteopathic medicine, eight received master’s in biomedical science, and four received dual degrees. The event marked the 117th annual commencement ceremony in the College’s history, and seventh since the formation of A.T. Still University.
“This year’s graduates will go out as individuals representing the founding osteopathic medical institution,” said KCOM Dean Philip Slocum, D.O. “They will together and individually make significant contributions to addressing the shortage of physicians in the United States and to whole person healthcare in this country.”
ATSU’s Board of Trustees and KCOM professors unanimously voted to give Governor Nixon an honorary doctor of humane letters (D.Hu.L.) degree, and Dr. Slocum presented it to him at the ceremony.