UPDATE (12/13/22): Limestone's graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. has been moved inside to Fullerton Auditorium.
For the first time in decades, Limestone will soon host an outdoor graduation on campus as the University welcomes Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) founder John G. Rocovich, Jr., as the commencement speaker.
Limestone will confer degrees for 173 graduates from its various programs during the upcoming fall semester commencement at Saints Field on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m.
Including the 218 degrees that were awarded in May of this year, Limestone will graduate a total of 319 students in 2022.
The ceremony will mark the first outdoor graduation held on campus in many years.
Limestone’s graduation will also be live streamed so family and friends unable to be in attendance can view the ceremony. The live-stream link will be available at www.limestone.edu and on all Limestone University social media platforms.
A native of Roanoke, VA, Rocovich graduated from Blacksburg High School (VA) in 1963 and attended Virginia Tech, graduating cum laude from the College of Business in 1966. He attended law school at the University of Richmond and earned his juris doctorate and passed the Virginia bar in 1967. Rocovich then entered New York University, where he graduated with his Master of Law in taxation in 1968.
Rocovich returned to Roanoke to establish the law firm Moss & Rocovich. He has been admitted to the bar in Virginia, District of Columbia, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the 4th and 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
To recognize his contributions to the Virginia Tech University, Rocovich was presented with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2000.
He now serves as VCOM’s Chairman of the Board.
VCOM is a non-profit, private doctoral-level osteopathic medical college initially funded by several foundations that were established by the late Marion Bradley Via to benefit Virginia Tech and Southwest Virginia. Marion Bradley's son, Edward Via, was the person instrumental in approving the dedication of funds to this initiative.
John G. Rocovich, Jr., and Sue Ellen Rocovich, DO, Ph.D., were the individuals instrumental in founding the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, laying all the groundwork to establish the College. At the time of initial development, VCOM’s vision was to provide healthcare for Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and the Appalachian Region, and to promote biomedical research with Virginia Tech.
In 2001, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine was developed in the Corporate Research Center of Virginia Tech, and that included facility plans and building, academic program planning, accreditation approvals, and the hiring of the initial faculty and staff. The College opened its doors to the first students in fall of 2003 and graduated the first class in 2007.
In 2010, in response to the enrollment of a significant number of students from western North Carolina and South Carolina, VCOM founded the Carolinas Campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg. North and South Carolina had each performed workforce studies that demonstrated a tremendous need for primary care and for physicians who would practice in the western Appalachian region of North Carolina and the upstate region of South Carolina. Leadership from the City of Spartanburg and Spartanburg Regional Hospital began recruiting VCOM in 2008 to open the campus in Spartanburg and after much planning and preparation, the campus opened in 2011.
A VCOM campus opened in Auburn, AL, in 2015, and then another campus was added in Monroe, LA, in 2020.
Limestone announced an articulation agreement in 2019 with VCOM, which provides the University’s pre-medical students an opportunity to receive a Guaranteed Admissions Interview, as well as take part in an Early Admission Program. VCOM typically receives 17,000 applications for about 670 spots in its program. It requires four years of education, including biomedical and clinical courses. Completion of these requirements is required to award the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.
The mission of VCOM is to prepare globally minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations and to promote research to improve human health.
“Our goal in life is simple, as I tell the students on the first day: ‘We’re here to save the world,’” Rocovich said at the time the agreement was signed between Limestone and VCOM. “We want to churn out what we feel is the biggest need, and that’s primary care physicians who will stay in the Appalachian and Southeastern part of the United States and practice medicine for the rest of their lives. We view Limestone as the type of place which has provided us with outstanding students and can provide us with a lot more. We essentially want to be is Limestone’s College of Medicine.”
Rocovich’s commencement address will coincide with Limestone moving its graduation ceremony back to campus. Since the coronavirus pandemic, Limestone has been scheduling its graduation ceremonies outside at the nearby Gaffney High School stadium. Four of those five ceremonies took place outdoors at Gaffney High, while one was moved back to campus inside Fullerton Auditorium due to inclement weather.
Prior to the move to Gaffney High’s stadium, the on-campus auditorium hosted Limestone’s graduations for decades. Up until the 1990s, Limestone’s graduations were typically held outdoors on the historic front campus.
In its continued efforts to improve and expand the student-experience, Limestone brought football games to campus for the first time this past fall to Saints Field. The same seating that was used for football will be utilized for the upcoming graduation. Prior to this fall, Limestone had played its home football games at Gaffney High’s stadium.
If rain or severe weather prevents the graduation on December 17 from being held outdoors at Saints Field, the ceremony will be held inside Fullerton Auditorium. If that occurs, due to the limited indoor seating, graduates will receive four tickets each for their guests.
The ceremony will include conferring 131 degrees at the undergraduate level (include the On-Campus and Online Programs) and 42 from the various graduate level programs.
ACCOMPANYING PHOTO: John Rocovich talks to Limestone students during an articulation agreement signing ceremony at the University in 2019.