Dr. Philip Pumerantz, founding president of Western University of Health Sciences, traveled back to the University’s early beginnings on Tuesday, Sept. 6 – the day after Labor Day – though the trip was more about time than distance. Dr. Pumerantz walked from his office in the University Administration Center and across the Esplanade, to the front door of the Student Services Center, which was the original home of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific when it opened the day after Labor Day 1977.
"We’re going to see if we stir up some ghosts in here," the president said wryly as he opened the door. On that morning 34 years ago, Dr. Pumerantz and COMP’s only other employee, his secretary, started the college with the basics – office supplies. "I looked around at this empty space, and then I said to her, ‘Let’s get some supplies. Where’s the nearest stationery store?’ She thought I was crazy, going up and down the aisles of that store with a cart. But I still tell people that we started this college with paper clips." Less than a year later, COMP admitted its inaugural class of 36 osteopathic medical students, 32 of whom went on to graduate in 1982.
Since that first day after Labor Day 1977, the institution has evolved into Western University of Health Sciences, the most comprehensive graduate health professions university in the United States, with nine colleges, 900 employees and more than 3,300 students.