Chapter 6, Part 6 – 1975
The first three months of 1975 were a period of heightened anxiety for the college community as three negotiations for ownership of the campus were being conducted simultaneously. Attempts to negotiate better terms with the wealthy lawyer and the community college were rebuffed. There would be no changes to their respective offers. As for negotiations with the Sisters, the college was overwhelmed by the affable reception they were afforded. The college had repeatedly failed to meet its contractual obligations to the Sisters and the college had no financial wherewithal by which to proceed any further. In essence, the college had no credible bargaining position. Fortunately for the college, the position the Sisters of St. Dominic Convent found themselves in was equally unattractive. The Sisters had vacated the campus and didn’t want to go through the process of foreclosing, returning to the campus and finding another buyer.
After three months of negotiating, the college and the Sisters reached a settlement whereby the Sisters agreed to carry the mortgage on the campus. The college agreed to pay the Sisters approximately $7,800/month for three years after which, payments would be amortized over the next 25 years. The college would be allowed to refinance after 11 years.
As the college negotiated with the Sisters, it moved forward:
- In early January 1975, the college appeared before the CCE Commission on Accreditation. The commission commended the college for completeness of its self-study and supporting documentation, asked only a few questions and concluded the college’s appearance in less than 30 minutes. This was a good sign.
- In late January 1975, CCE Executive Director Dr. Richard Timmins, visited the campus to make arrangements for the next CCE site team visit. During his visit, he advised Interim President Warren to hire a consultant to assist the college in achieving full accreditation. Warren acted upon this advice within a week.
- A $3.3 million class-action lawsuit was filed against Continental Securities Corporation by the WSCC board, college administration and students. Legal counsel for the college had successfully forced CSC to place its assets into a court-administered trust. Counsel was confident that the chiropractors and supporters who purchased life insurance policies from CSC would eventually have all of their money returned.
- The college prepared for 31 freshmen entering the spring term class.
- On March 1975, WSCC purchased an entire medical library from United Medical Laboratories. The library contained the full complement of basic science reference books, professional journals and scientific periodicals recommended by the Carnegie Institute for colleges and universities. The college paid a mere fraction of the original $150,000 purchase price; this would be one of the wisest and most worthwhile investments ever made by the college.
- In spring term 1975, the board authorized purchase of property at SE 217th and Stark Street for $128,000. The college planned to use this site for its clinic operations once the old campus sold.
- Student newspaper for Jul. 1975.
- The WSCC Reporter, official newsletter April 1975
- The WSCC Reporter, official newsletter May 1975
- The college received a $5,400 award from the Veterans Administration.
- The college was awarded a $15,000 Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant from the federal government to provide financial aid to students in need.
In early August 1975, the admissions department announced that 120 freshmen were expected to enroll in the fall class, reason enough for the college to again seek approval from the Multnomah County planning commission to increase the number of students allowed on campus. Just two years earlier the planning commission had approved the college’s request to increase student population to 200. This number was about to be exceeded.
The planning commission approved a campus student population of 550. County extends campus use permit. But, there were conditions:
- The college would need to connect to the public sewage system.
- A college development site plan and impact study would need to be created and submitted to the Division of Planning and Development (DPD) within 60 days.
- The college would also need to provide the DPD a traffic mitigation plan designed to reduce automobile traffic through the neighborhood.
- The college would maintain single occupancy of the campus (only college-related personnel and activities).
- No clinic operations would be allowed on campus.
Permission by the planning commission to increase the campus student population came none too soon. The fall term enrollment exceeded projections. The college added 125 freshmen and 21 transfer students to an existing student population of 164, pushing the total to 310.
College coffers were fattening from a marked increase in tuition dollars and revenue from successes by the postgraduate and continuing education department. Dr. Stonebrink’s orthopedic diplomate programs were being offered out of state and they generated significant income for the college. Other continuing education programs were doing equally well. Successful weekend programs were being offered on: bone tumors, laboratory diagnosis, joint disease, differentiation of major cardiac disease, peripheral vascular disease, management of gastro-intestinal disorders, X-ray technique, clinical anatomy and chiropractic physiotherapy.
Dr. Henry West was attracting dozens of chiropractors to his supplemental courses in orthopedics. Seminars on a host of chiropractic techniques were being conducted by faculty and invited speakers. The visibility and reputation of the college was further enhanced by presentations by WSCC faculty members at state and national association conventions.
That fall brought two noteworthy faculty members to the college. In September, Paul Shervey, Ph.D. joined the basic science faculty to teach pathology and anatomy. Dr. Shervey taught for 31 years, becoming renowned for his skill at human dissection. His students learned very quickly that if they had any question about pathology, Dr. Shervey would either have the answer or provide it within a day. A month later, Steven Oliver, DC joined the WSCC faculty to oversee clinical training in the Student Health Center.
Later that month, a local Christian college offered to buy the campus for $1.25 million. The college was in no mood to endure the ordeal of finding, financing and moving to a new site. The new campus was perfectly sized for the current student population and there was plenty of room for growth, something that was already occurring. However, if the Christian college was interested enough to make an unsolicited offer, perhaps they would entertain a price-tag of $1.45 million. That might make the ordeal of finding another campus more palatable. Negotiations began in early November, but the Christian college lost interest when the college made its counter-offer.
In November 1975, a document entitled: “Philosophy of Western States Chiropractic College” was drafted and adopted by the college. The document stated: “The philosophy…is to inspire the will to serve rather than the will to get, to create goodness rather than goods…expand from the capacity to make a living to the broader capacity to make a life.” There could be no more fitting end to the year than the one provided by the adoption of a philosophical statement reminding all who labored at and for the college of principles worthy of tireless dedication.
In signing a new agreement with the Sisters of St. Dominic Convent, the financial limitations that had hamstrung the college for years vanished almost overnight. The terms of the new mortgage contract were easily managed, allowing the college to redirect funding to areas of need that had gone unaddressed for far too long. From 1976 through 1978, the college grew rapidly, adding new faculty and administrators, initiating a research department and research agenda, re-energizing accreditation efforts and aggressively addressing the multitude of minor problems that had distracted the college for more than a decade. Much of the college’s resurgence was supported by increasing student enrollment.
Unable to sell the old campus on 63rd Street, the college decided to lease the property and rent back the portion of the building still being used for clinic operations. The lease added to an ever-growing revenue stream, but operating a clinic so far from campus was difficult and begged a better solution.
A committee of administrators and faculty was assigned the task of locating a new site for clinic operations. Less than a month after signing the lease on the 63rd Street property, the college located a suitable site on NE 102nd Ave. The building was ideally located on a busy street and close to campus. The college purchased the property. The purchase meant financing another major commitment, but the college’s financial picture had improved so remarkably that it was able to secure a bank loan without difficulty. With its clinic operations problem solved, the college sold the property originally purchased for a clinic site on SE Stark and applied the $59,000 in profit towards the mortgage on the new clinic.