Chapter 4, Part 5 – Accreditation 1960


Drs. Elliot and Higgens were informed that WSC was being denied reaffirmation of accreditation. Dr. Higgens, who served on the NCA Executive Committee at that time, pleaded with his colleagues to reconsider. At the conclusion of the meeting, Drs. Elliot and Higgens were told the NCA wanted Western States to merge with Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC). The final report of the accrediting committee urged WSC to amalgamate with LACC by June because of the college’s economic condition. The college was given until June to either comply with the demand to merge or come up with a viable alternative solution.

It is likely that during the January NCA meeting, Dr. Higgens met with George Haynes, president of LACC, to discuss details pertaining to a merger of their respective institutions. Invitations to merge also came from Northwestern College of Chiropractic and National Chiropractic College (NCC). Each of these colleges suggested it would be the more appropriate partner because of their shared similarities in philosophy and principles.

Dr. Higgens called an emergency meeting of the Board Trustees, founders and governors for June 26, 1960, to discuss the situation in which the college found itself.

Board minutes of meeting of Trustees, Founders and Governors

Dr. Higgens was angered by the position of the NCA and did not withhold his contempt for their decision. It was his contention the NCA leadership intended to “whittle down” the number of colleges to four: New York Chiropractic College, Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, Lincoln Chiropractic College and National Chiropractic College. He was particularly disenchanted with what he considered to be the duplicitous nature of the council. “The entire Council on Education [was] with Elliot. They guaranteed [a] $10,000 loan!” However, he watched this commitment evaporate on the last day of proceedings, killed by the executive board. Dr. Higgens proclaimed to his fellow board members, “My first love is WSC, even if it calls for my removal from the Executive Board of NCA.”

The harsh reality Dr. Higgens found difficult to accept was that even though its solution was severe and distasteful, the NCA was actually trying to save the college. The NCA could not see a way for the college to survive and was offering Dr. Higgens an exit strategy that had some merit. As difficult as it was for Dr. Higgens to accept, a merger might be necessary.

At the conclusion of the general meeting, the HRF resolved to:

    • continue pressing for accreditation,
    • maintain the two-year, pre-professional education admissions requirement, and
    • merge with another institution or sell the campus and find a new one.

By no means did reaffirmation of accreditation do anything to improve the college’s unrelenting financial nightmare. The college was not financially self-sufficient, relying heavily on external resources for assistance. Most giving to the college came in relatively small amounts and infrequently. One of the more reliable sources of external funding came by way of an annual contribution from the Foundation of Accredited Chiropractic Education (FACE), the funding arm of the NCA that supported chiropractic education. Historically, FACE made annual contributions to all of the chiropractic colleges and some of the college had come to depend heavily on that annual gift.

Unfortunately for Western States, 1960 would be the year that FACE decided to distribute their annual awards using a different formula. Eighteen percent of the total award was given to each of the four largest colleges, 14 percent of the total award was given to two smaller colleges, and nothing was given to WSC. Upon receipt of this rather distressing news, the college was advised by the Council on Education to apply for a direct grant from FACE. Perhaps this unsolicited advice was the council’s way of apologizing for the manner in which WSC had been overlooked. Nevertheless, Dr. Elliot submitted a proposal for a student procurement grant, for which it received $4,200 in September. This was the second grant of this kind the college received from FACE, having received a similar grant for $4,800 in August 1959. The amount was a fraction of what the college usually received, but it accepted the grant just the same.

From a financial perspective, the college’s situation was not improving by any appreciable degree. In the fall of 1960, the college enrolled only 11 freshmen, nine sophomores, seven juniors and five seniors. The total enrollment numbers upon which an operations budget was built for 1961 remained dangerously low with no indication the trend would improve any time soon. The campus was still for sale, but there were no viable offers or interested buyers. The college’s consideration of an institution with whom to merge had narrowed to just two candidates: Multnomah College and Columbia Christian College.

Multnomah College was favored because it was fully accredited, whereas Columbia Christian was not. Also, Multnomah College did not express a narrow religious viewpoint. Representatives from WSC continued to meet with their counterparts from Multnomah College and Columbia Christian throughout the remainder of 1960 and into 1961. Terms for a mutually agreeable merger could not be reached and the three institutions decided to suspend negotiations until a later date when conditions for a merger improved.