National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) conferred honorary doctorate degrees during the college's July 2009 commencement ceremony to a founding member of the NCNM Board of Directors, Gerald Farnsworth, DC, ND, and to NCNM President Emeritus William J. Keppler, PhD.
In conferring the degrees, NCNM President David J. Schleich, PhD, spoke of the longstanding service Dr. Farnsworth and Dr. Keppler contributed to the medical school's founding and development, as well as to the profession of natural medicine throughout North America.
In his remarks to the graduating class of 2009, Dr. Schleich said of the two honorary degree recipients, "Their exemplary stewardship has forged a path for you to be here today, so that you can achieve your dream to practice natural medicine. Imagine the level of devotion that must have inspired Dr. Farnsworth, a former NCNM board chair and contributing faculty member for more than 20 years, to commute weekly at his own expense for years from British Columbia to this fledgling little college in Portland.
"NCNM's longstanding champion, Dr. Keppler, fought to maintain solvency for NCNM when the college was 30 days from closure. Because of his relentless efforts, within a year, NCNM was debt-free; a year after that, NCNM received full institutional accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education. We would not be here today celebrating your achievement as graduates without the extraordinary dedication shown by these remarkable individuals."
Dr. Gerald Farnsworth earned his chiropractic and naturopathic degrees from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto. He has served the naturopathic medical profession continuously since 1952, when he joined the British Columbia Naturopathic Board of Governors.
A former NCNM board chair, Dr. Farnsworth also served on the NCNM board from 1956 through 1979. He is a lifetime member of the British Columbia Naturopathic Association and the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia; a past president of Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors; a Trustee Emeritus of Bastyr College; and a founding member of Northwest Naturopathic Physicians' Convention, where he has served continuously from 1957 to the present.
Dr. William J. Keppler holds a doctorate in genetics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He served as NCNM president from 2003 through 2007. Under his leadership, NCNM received regional accreditation, regained solid financial ground, reestablished and grew its research department, and brought credible testimony to the naturopathic licensing campaign before the US Department of Education.
A professor emeritus at Florida International University, Dr. Keppler served as professor of public health, teaching graduate courses in genetics, ethics, and biostatistics, and as dean of the College of Health for 15 years. He also served on the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, which honored him with a distinguished service award in 2003, and assisted the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities as a longtime senior evaluator.
In accepting his honorary degree, Dr. Keppler spoke to the new NCNM graduates about treating patients with enthusiasm, excellence, and compassion and exhorted them to remember that through the profession of natural medicine, they will make a profound difference in the lives of their patients.
Before bestowing the honorary degrees, Dr. Schleich added that despite formidable challenges, the two former NCNM administrators helped create a medical college that has stood the test of time, setting the stage for a resurgence of interest in natural medicine.
"All of us who enjoy the enormous benefits of natural medicine owe a debt of gratitude to Drs. Farnsworth and Keppler for their outstanding leadership and allegiance to our profession," Dr. Schleich concluded.
Founded in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America. A nonprofit college of natural medicine, NCNM offers four-year degree programs in Naturopathic Medicine and Classical Chinese Medicine. Its teaching clinics offer free and low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area, with approximately 40,000 patient visits per year. NCNM's Helfgott Research Institute is a nonprofit facility that conducts rigorous independent research to advance the science of natural medicine in order to improve clinical practice.