Chapter 5, Part 1 – 1963 – 1964

The new year did not provide much financial relief as the college limped along under very stressful circumstances.

In July 1963, WSC was notified by the Committee on Accreditation (COA) that the college was in danger of losing its accreditation because of low enrollment and limited financial resources. The letter informed the college that its status was being downgraded from “provisional accreditation” to “conditional accreditation.”

The letter further warned that unless effective measures were taken to correct the identified deficiencies “within six months,” the COA would revoke the college’s accreditation. The situation had moved from critical to terminal. In response, Dr. Higgens wrote off an even larger loan he had made to the college as “uncollectable debt.” His act of generosity came close to balancing the college’s operational budget for the year.

May 1963 Commencement Exercise Program

In April of 1964, another letter was sent to the chiropractic community from the alumni association. This letter contained a direct plea for pledges of $1,500 per month so that the college could provide evidence of support at the Council on Education meeting in June. In May, Dr. Elliot approached the leadership of the naturopathic profession with a proposal to share space at the college. He was informed that they were quite pleased with their college in Seattle and were not interested “…in even considering the facilities at Western States College.” In June, the director of education of the American Chiropractic Association, Dr. Dewey Anderson, conducted an unexpected, unannounced, informal inspection of the college in preparation for a general report to the Board of FACE later that month. Following his visit, he met with Drs. Higgens and Elliot to assure them he would recommend continued accreditation and financial support for WSC.

Given a strong endorsement and encouragement by the ACA director of education, the college drafted and submitted another grant proposal to FACE. Between 1959 and 1963, the college had received a number of substantial grants from FACE totaling $21,850. The grant proposal submitted by the college on June 24, 1964, represented a quantum increase in the requested amount: $32,840. In its application request, as evidence of need, the college highlighted its enrollment numbers: 15 freshmen, 10 sophomores, six juniors, and eight seniors for a total of 39 students. Little more was needed to demonstrate how dire the situation was.

In July 1964, WSC received the long-awaited letter from the Committee on Accreditation (COA) that would determine the college’s future. Much to the pleasure and relief of the college, the COA “…commended WSC for showing considerable change in conditions and progress…” and, thus, the COA was extending “conditional accreditation.” So long as the college could demonstrate that “…continued substantial progress is made toward meeting the criteria and correcting the deficiencies which now exist during the next six months,” the college would survive for at least another six months.

COA letter extending conditional accreditation

A financial balance sheet for the month of August 1964 provides some insight into the college’s financial situation. Of the two outstanding deficiencies, increasing student enrollment would prove to be the more challenging, but in its defense, the college would be able to demonstrate to the accrediting committee that it aggressively pursued solutions. In November 1964, the HRF Board of Trustees adopted a resolution directing Dr. Elliot to submit another “student procurement” grant application to FACE for $10,000.

HRF resolution for FACE grant application

1964 was a year of survival. Annual total enrollments had changed little over the past three years:

1962 34 students
1963 33 students
1964 39 students

The entire campus community began to wonder aloud whether or not the college could sustain itself on enrollment numbers this low. The COA was threatening to revoke accreditation unless the college could demonstrate significant progress in this area. Some improvement to the financial position had been achieved, but more would be required before the COA removed this item from its list of concerns. Strapped for cash, the college placed the campus back on the real estate market for $90,000. This action further escalated fears that the college was closing. Despite the dire situation at hand, it was fortunate the campus community could not foresee just how much worse the situation would become and how much longer it would continue.

1964 was also the year in which the National Chiropractic Association became the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

The debate over pre-professional education requirements had reached a level of intensity that demanded more and better action from the ACA than they had provided in the past.

By early 1964, 23 state chiropractic associations had grown so impatient with the lack of progress towards obtaining a two-year, pre-professional education requirement for admission to chiropractic colleges that they had moved independently to enact legislation in their respective jurisdictions to do so. By fall 1964, three of the nine ACA-approved colleges had adopted some form of pre-professional education, but not mandatory pre-professional education like the one required at WSC. It had been a decade since Dr. Budden made the irrevocable decision to require two years of pre-professional education for admission to WSC, and it had come at significant cost to the college’s enrollment efforts.

May 1964 Commencement Exercise Program