Chapter 5, Part 3 – 1967 – 1969
From 1967 through 1969, the college scraped by. The loss of accreditation was only one of a number of factors that significantly undermined the college’s ability to attract students. Total student enrollment for 1966 was a meager 24, and hopes of ending the downward spiral would not be realized anytime soon.
Total enrollment for 1967 was an even more anemic 22; for 1968 it was only 23. Unless the college could immediately reverse this trend or find other sources of revenue to support the college, an end would come soon. Despite predictions of its certain demise, the college refused to consider failure. If anything, it appeared that the college was invigorated by the challenge. As evidence of the declines in enrollment, the May graduating class of 1967 contained only four candidates.
The two-year, pre-professional education requirement for admission to chiropractic college remained a thorny issue, because it still had not been fully embraced by the other chiropractic colleges or adopted as official policy by the Council on Education. With no option available to change this admission requirement, Western States went on the offensive by taking the issue to the ACA Council on Education.
It was time for the council to adopt a policy requiring all chiropractic colleges to have admission standards equivalent to those employed at Western States. It was a plucky move considering the college had no accreditation standing at the time. From the college’s perspective, it had nothing to lose. The decision to confront the Council on Education seemed perfectly logical and reasonable given the inequity in dissimilar admissions requirements used at other chiropractic colleges. If WSCC could not level the playing field on this single issue, it would eventually bleed to death financially from declines in enrollment.
Even if WSCC prevailed in its effort to bring about a more equitable policy on admissions standards, it would still take years for the college to recover. With few alternatives available to increase revenue, the college looked for ways to cut costs. Oddly, an attractive option came from National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) in February 1968.
Having financial challenges of its own, NCNM felt that merging with a college suffering a similar fate would be in the collective best interests of all. The president of the naturopathic college proposed the founding of Pacific Northwest University by merging six colleges in the Portland area: WSCC, NCNM, Warner Pacific College, Cascade College, Judson Baptist College and Western Business University. It was conceded that Warner Pacific had the most suitable campus. Support for this idea gained momentum when the Washington Osteopathic Association offered to support an osteopathic program at the proposed Pacific Northwest University. In the end, nothing came of this proposal. There were simply too many differing ideas about running a college to find agreement on a common approach. The
outcome was very disappointing to WSCC, because the ACA Council on Education had specifically tied accreditation of WSCC to a merger.
In March 1968, the WSCC Board of Trustees invited William H. Dallas, DC, to serve on the board. He graciously declined. It was hoped that he would assist the college in contesting a decision by the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners (WBCE) to deny licensure to WSCC graduates. If this decision were left unchecked, it would further erode enrollment at the college. The WBCE had denied WSCC graduates licensure in Washington State, because the college didn’t teach enough hours of chiropractic philosophy to satisfy licensure eligibility requirements. The college immediately protested what it considered to be unjust and discriminatory practices, but agreed to increase the visibility of chiropractic philosophy in the curriculum. For all practical purposes, the concessions were negligible and made no appreciable impact on the curriculum at all. However, the changes were enough to convince the WBCE to remove the sanction. Disagreement between WSCC and the WBCE on this issue would become a perennial problem for the college.
At the June 1968 convention of the ACA Council on Education in New York, WSCC was given assurances that all chiropractic colleges agreed to adopt the two-year, pre-professional education admission requirement. In hindsight, it is difficult to decipher precisely what may have been meant by an “agreement.” Later that year, a member of the WSCC Board of Trustees visited six chiropractic colleges to find that none of them had adopted the two-year admission requirement at their respective institutions. WSCC was far too jaundiced by then to be surprised.
The process of recruiting and enrolling students to WSCC became even more difficult in 1969 when the college was notified by the federal government that chiropractic college students were not eligible for student deferments from their local draft boards. The Vietnam War had entered its most active period, and efforts to keep male students enrolled at the college were severely undermined by the government’s decision to deny student deferments. Conscription of students became commonplace.
In fall 1968, only 12 freshmen enrolled. Insights into student life at the college can be gleaned from the pages of the fall term issue of Quantum Libet, the students’ quarterly newsletter. Fall 1969 student newsletter
The same number of freshmen enrolled in fall 1969; by year’s end, the total enrollment at WSCC was 29. Unable to stop the financial blood loss from students being drafted, the new board submitted “…an emergency request for $15,000…” to the Foundation of Chiropractic Education and Research (formerly known as FACE).
The situation was desperate, but at the close of the 1960s, Western States Chiropractic College was still alive – barely. At least one of the graduating classes in 1969 contained only three candidates.