Chapter 5, Part 6 – 1972
In May 1972, the faculty voted to expel four students — all members of the new student ICA club — for fomenting significant discontent on campus. A petition in support of the faculty was signed by 57 students (about 75 percent of the student population) and forwarded to the administration.
Not unexpectedly, the expelled students refused to accept expulsion, claiming the college engaged in discriminatory practices. The four claimed they were being targeted because of their philosophical convictions. The faculty and students countered the expelled students’ claims by providing numerous examples of their classroom disruptions, inappropriately aggressive behavior, acts of intimidation and brow-beatings to those who disagreed with their point of view. The campus community did not soften, reiterating their desire to keep the expelled students off campus and out of their lives. It didn’t take long before threats of legal action were heard on campus. Unable to find a mutually agreeable solution, the administration asked the board of trustees to act as an arbitration panel.
In May 1972, the board convened a special meeting at which representatives of the faculty, administration, student body, and the four dismissed students were invited to discuss the circumstances leading to the expulsions.
After a long evening of accusations and counter-accusations, the board concluded that disciplinary issues and actions of an academic nature are best resolved by the faculty and administration. Following a seven-day cooling-off period, during which the faculty, administration, and aggrieved students met to discuss the situation, the faculty agreed to allow three of the four students to return to the college, if they were placed on behavioral probation for two years. Should any the three students engage in any more disruptive behavior, they would be asked to leave without further recourse. The fourth student was suspended for one year. He chose to transfer to another chiropractic college and did not return. Two years later, in February 1974, the faculty submitted a letter to college administration detailing a process whereby faculty would determine the appropriateness of a student’s participation in the DC program.
Despite the distraction of waging battles on numerous fronts, the college continued to inch forward.
Atop the college’s list of unfulfilled accomplishments was successful fundraising. After months of deliberation, the board of trustees decided against hiring a full-time, professional fundraiser. Rather, the board members chose themselves to be the responsible agents for this effort. With the assistance of President Elliot and his administration, the board crafted a fundraising plan it believed would have the greatest likelihood of success. Lacking background, experience, or professional guidance, the board’s plan lacked cohesiveness and took on the specter of a “shot-gun” approach to fundraising. They acknowledged this shortcoming, but also recognized that a lack of financial resources limited their options. In the end, the board was comfortable with their plan and trusted some of the elements contained in it would be fruitful.
The major elements of the plan were:
- approach all of the external agencies and foundations having a history of awarding direct funding grants to chiropractic colleges
- conduct a fundraising event whereby the board membership would match a dollar for every two dollars raised
- encourage practicing chiropractors to solicit their patients, friends, and acquaintances for a $1/month, tax-deductible contribution to the college
- meet with representatives from area colleges to learn how their successful fundraising efforts could be applied to WSCC
- sponsor a series of workshops by professional fundraisers to teach college personnel basic techniques in successful fundraising
- seek professional advice from financial planners on how to establish a WSCC endowment
The board promoted the idea that fundraising was the responsibility of everyone associated with the college. By mid-year 1972, the college had collected $14,346 in direct contributions. When combined with pledges, the college had raised $20,000, a remarkable sum for such a short period of time. By all appearances, this lingering concern of the accrediting agency was on its way to being resolved.
The college’s accreditation status remained tenuous at best, and campus visits from the accrediting agency became frequent events. Another site team was sent to the college in October 1972, a site team report was drafted and forwarded to the Council on Education, and another letter detailing concerns of the council was forwarded to the college. In their letter, the council and the chairman of the Commission on Accreditation (COA) commended the college for its fundraising efforts, but expressed concern about the meager returns.
Additionally, the commission identified four areas of concern where the college must demonstrate improvement, if full accreditation was to be restored:
- increased revenues
- administrative stability
- improvements to the library and laboratory space
- more equitable faculty salaries
The college was also encouraged to improve its catalog, hire more full-time administrators and faculty, enhance course syllabi and update campus facilities.
In private conversations with the members of the site team and representatives from the Council on Education, the college was informed that success in the areas identified would lead to full accreditation within two years. The positive attitude in which representatives of the accrediting agency expressed themselves was likely the result of recovering enrollment at the college.
It also helped that the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners had lifted its sanction against WSCC and was allowing graduates to sit for its licensing board exam. Following fall enrollment, the college hosted a total student population of 86, insufficient for celebration, but cause for optimism that was shared by the Council on Education. Despite some shared optimism, the council ended its communication to the college on a somber note — it remained concerned with the college’s troubling financial problems and the lack of progress towards successfully resolving them.
By the end of October 1972, the college had exhausted every lead regarding potential affiliation, amalgamation or merger with another college. Despite its willingness to be absorbed by another institution, the college was unable to find a willing suitor. Improvements had been made to the deteriorating 63rd Street campus building, but they were only cosmetic. The facility was not an adequate environment in which to provide a quality first-professional degree education. WSCC could not continue to operate in a facility that was neither designed for nor intended to be a college. Furthermore, the building in which the college resided was so unattractive that it undermined recruiting efforts. Visiting prospective students frequently commented about its objectionable appearance.
As it became clear that a merger was not likely, the college shifted its focus to sites that might be converted to a college. The college considered an aging hospital and a foreclosed convalescent home as potential sites, but each would have cost tens-of-thousands of dollars to convert and would constitute little more than a lateral move. No other accredited chiropractic college had suffered enrollment numbers as low as those experienced by WSC over the preceding decade. In the end, the college concluded that only one course of action was available — move up or move out.