Chapter 7, Part 4 – Dr. Herbert Vear
Dr. Vear’s first order of business was to prepare for another appearance before the CCE on June 29, 1979. In the event full accreditation was not awarded at the June meeting, Dr. Vear was prepared to request an extension of the college’s recognized candidate status for whatever period was necessary to achieve full accreditation. An extension of the college’s recognized candidate status seemed a remote possibility; denial of accreditation was a more likely outcome. The CCE had already notified the college that it lacked compliance with the standard requiring chiropractic colleges to demonstrate “administrative stability.” The turmoil on campus and sudden resignation of the president would be seen by the CCE as further evidence of administrative instability.
Recognizing the college’s vulnerability, the 12-member faculty academic council asked to meet with the Board of Trustees to offer their perspective and help. In early June, the council met with the board to convey its concerns about the campus turmoil and to offer a number of action-steps it felt were imperative for the long-term survival of the institution. From the perspective of the faculty, the exchange between the council and the board was not as productive as had been hoped for or needed. Following the meeting, a combined statement representing the sentiments of faculty and students was issued: “The college community has no faith or confidence in the present leadership of the Board.”
Everybody associated with the college hoped that the appearance before the CCE would bring about clarity and stability. The appearance did not go well. The CCE denied accreditation to WSCC.
According to the CCE’s interpretation of the accreditation process, the college had exhausted the time allowed to move from recognized candidate status to full accreditation. WSCC was now without accreditation status of any kind. Unless the college chose to appeal the decision, which would extend the college’s recognized candidate status through the appeal process, the college would collapse within a matter of months, if not weeks. The college was given until Sept. 15, 1979 to submit an appeal. An appeal to the revocation of accreditation could only be based on the legal question of “proper action” taken by the CCE and it was doubtful the college would prevail on this point. Legal counsel informed college administration the appeal process could take nine to twelve months to conduct. An appeal process taking this long might provide sufficient time to achieve enough in the way of progress to compel the CCE to reconsider its decision. Dr. Vear refused to accept the CCE’s decision without a fight.
Loss of accreditation instantly claimed a victim. The chairman of the WSCC board submitted his resignation immediately upon receipt of official notice from the CCE that reaffirmation of accreditation for Western States Chiropractic College was denied.
In the first week of July 1979, following the resignation of the board chair, Dr. Herbert Vear was appointed president of Western States Chiropractic College.
At his first board meeting, Dr. Vear presented an action plan by which he intended to achieve full accreditation:
- The board would immediately take sincere and honest action to correct deficiencies regarding organization and administration. Further, it must communicate these actions to the CCE Commission on Accreditation.
- The board would file an appeal to maintain recognized candidate status.
- The college would embark upon a new self-study to be completed and forwarded to the Commission on Accreditation.
- The college would prepare for another appearance before the CCE commission in January and a likely site team visit in the spring of 1980.
Following his meeting with the board, President Vear shared his plan with the entire campus community. He cautioned those in attendance that the road ahead would be difficult, but he expressed his optimism and belief that the end result of a unified effort by the campus community would be full accreditation. He did not share with the campus community how serious and unstable the financial condition of the college was. The college had decided against enrolling a summer entering class.
The downturn in enrollment had become a trend rather than an event. Entering class sizes were becoming increasingly smaller. Students transferring to other colleges had profoundly impacted the current operating budget and the U.S. economy was experiencing a bout of inflation that consumed what little financial reserves the college had. The college faced $425,000 in expenses with only $180,000 in revenue by which to manage them. In order to operate for the remainder of the fiscal year, the college would have to increase its borrowing limit at the bank from $100,000 to $200,000. An increase of this size would require authorization from the Sisters of St. Dominic, to whom the college owed approximately $900,000.
Dr. Vear felt the Sisters might be more amenable to the increase when they learned the most recent appraisal of the college was $1.8 million. In the end, this effort proved unproductive. The Sisters of St. Dominic would not authorize a change in the agreement allowing the college to increase its line of credit. The Sisters actually entertained the idea, but the bank insisted the Sisters surrender title to the campus as collateral in order to approve the increase, something the Sisters refused to do.
Dr. Vear offered a number of proposals for the long-term financial health of the college, but conceded planning and implementation of them would be long-term as well. Unfortunately, the college did not have the luxury of time. One proposal was to sell bonds, but the hurdles involved in transacting that option were formidable. To sell bonds the college would have to conduct an audit, prepare a prospectus, and appear before the state’s bonding authority. This process would consume human and financial resources the college did not have. Another proposal was to commence an aggressive fundraising campaign. That project could be done more immediately, but would still take more time to organize and implement than the college had. Vear had many ideas along with the willingness and energy to implement them.
At the July 1979 meeting of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Vear, the faculty association, and the student body president came forward to proclaim their mutual support of the recent changes in leadership at the college and board. Morale on campus improved overnight. The students who were contemplating transfers to other colleges withdrew their applications. In spite of the dire consequences attendant to failure in achieving full accreditation, which was still a distinct possibility, the college rallied in support.
One of the bright spots of that trying year was when Dr. Vear recommended to the board that Dr. Appa Anderson be awarded an honorary doctor of humanities and Dr. Richard Stonebrink be awarded professor emeritus. The honors were bestowed upon the pair later that year.