Reunion Reflections: Paul Rossi “A class characterized by camaraderie”

Paul Rossi at his COMS Commencement

The Class of 1978 at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (COMS), now Des Moines University, were students when the world mourned the passing of Elvis Presley, celebrated the release of the first at-home game console (the Atari 2600), watched the first “Star Wars” movie and danced to the first punk rock music.

At the college, they learned from faculty including Norman Rose, D.O., himself a DMU graduate (Class of 1963); longtime dermatology professor Harry Elmets, D.O.; biochemistry professor Evelyn Celander, M.S.; and Bernard TePoorten, D.O., FAAO, who chaired the college’s osteopathic manipulative medicine department for nearly 20 years. They enjoyed picnics, parties, dances and – according to class member Paul Rossi, D.O., J.D., M.B.A. – each other’s company.

Below Dr. Rossi reflects on his class and his upcoming 40-year milestone reunion, held in conjunction with DMU’s 2018 Commencement and reunions also for the classes of 1993, 1968 and earlier years May 23-25. Reunion activities will include a special medallion ceremony for milestone reunion alumni, a campus picnic and tours and the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 25. All returning alumni are invited to march in the ceremony with their newest fellow alumni. Those who want to participate must order their cap and gown by March 30.

For more information on all reunion activities, visit the DMU alumni website or call Development and Alumni Relations at 515-271-1463. And contact us if you want to share your stories about your DMU student days!

Dr. Rossi’s classmates include Paul Morris and Bob Sing, center, shown here with family members.

What is most memorable to you about your time as a student?

The camaraderie among all the students in my class. We were willing to help each other and study together. The note pool system was a great way to allow us all more study time while we rotated responsibilities for taking class notes.

The most memorable class moment was in neuroanatomy when Dr. Gino Di Virgilio was explaining a complicated nerve process on the board with multiple colors of chalk during one of the first classes. He asked if anyone had any questions, and one of my classmates responded, “Could you please be more vague?” We all broke out in laughter and got through the course.

How would you characterize your classmates?

Determined, focused, cooperative and above all, kind.

Briefly describe your career/practice.

I completed a residency in emergency medicine and practiced emergency medicine and occupational medicine. I earned a J.D. degree then an M.B.A. in health care, and I currently work as a medical director with a health insurance company. 

Paul Rossi was among those who lived as DMU students in the Atlas House, south of campus. He says the rent of $50 per month was an attraction, but “you had to be willing to live with the other creatures that lived there,” including mice, bats and pigeons.

If you plan to attend your reunion, what do you most look forward to about the event?

I look forward to seeing classmates, seeing how the school has developed, visiting the Atlas House where I first lived and taking a tour of Des Moines, since I did not get to see much it while I was attending COMS.

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