Chapter 7, Part 7 – 1980 – 1990: Survival in a New World

1980 – 1990: Survival in a New World

  • John Lennon was assassinated.
  • Assassination attempts were made on the pope and President Reagan.
  • Mount St. Helens erupted.
  • IBM introduced personal computers (PCs).
  • A new plague was identified as AIDS.
  • Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
  • The “Challenger” space shuttle exploded.
  • The Berlin Wall fell.
  • The Exxon Valdez spilled millions of gallons of oil on the Alaskan coastline.
  • Students were massacred in China’s Tiananmen Square.

The 1980s began with the college’s future uncertain and in jeopardy.

The Council on Chiropractic Education had denied WSCC reaffirmation of accreditation, an adverse action against which the college had filed an appeal. The college recognized that sufficient grounds did not exist to prevail on the appeal and some other affirming action would have to transpire to keep the college alive. President Vear was supremely confident his interpretation of the CCE standards regarding the college’s recognized candidate status was correct. He would defend this position before the CCE at the January 1980 meeting and debate the issue to the point of exhaustion. Fortunately, the entire CCE membership witnessed the debate, with some of the members expressing sympathy for college’s position. Some members conceded that the standards were indeed silent on the issue of how much time a recognized candidate has to achieve full accreditation once an application for accreditation is submitted. After two days of contentious deliberation, the CCE Commission on Accreditation and the college agreed to a mutually acceptable compromise solution:

  1. The college would withdraw its appeal.
  2. The college’s recognized candidate status would be extended for one year (through January 1981). CCE RCA status letter.
  3. The college would conduct a new self-study.
  4. A site team would visit the campus in the fall.
  5. Accreditation or denial of accreditation would be determined at the January 1981 meeting.

The college would survive for at least one more year. The college had to demonstrate unequivocally that it was financially stable, or it would be forced to close its doors. This would be a daunting task. Debt would have to be reduced; mortgage payments would have to be made in full and on time; alternative revenue sources would have to be developed or identified; operating expenses would have to be reduced and the college would have to decrease its dependence on tuition.

Rarely did the college face a crisis without taking advantage of the opportunity to enhance its academic program. Such was the case in 1980 when WSCC added three new faculty members.

Fresh Faculty

Dave Peterson, DC, was the first to join the faculty ranks. The college hired Dr. Peterson for his knowledge, interest and expertise in chiropractic manipulation. What the college could not have foreseen was just how far Dr. Peterson’s interest in the manipulative arts would carry him and the chiropractic program. He became the chair of the division of chiropractic sciences and went on to co-author, with Drs. Tom Bergman and Dana Lawrence—doctors of chiropractic from Northwestern College of Chiropractic and National College of Chiropractic respectively– the definitive text on chiropractic manipulation, Chiropractic Technique.

Less than a week after the arrival of Dr. Dave Peterson, Professor Mark Kaminski joined the basic science faculty. Dr. Kaminski would not only fill a significant gap in the instruction of physiology, he would enhance the instruction of the basic sciences with a new course in genetics. Early in his teaching career at WSCC, he developed a keen interested in computer technology and its applicability to classroom instruction. His expertise served to guide his colleagues in their use of this new technology to markedly improve classroom learning.

This same year, the basic science division added one more member to its faculty, Professor Jim Carollo. Dr. Carollo joined with Dr. Paul Shervey in the classroom and lab to enhance instruction in anatomy, particularly, neuroanatomy. Dr. Carollo’s user-friendly teaching style was very much appreciated by his students; he took a very challenging subject and made it understandable, as well as enjoyable. It was clear to students attending his classes that he was genuinely interested in their learning. Rarely would he deliver a lecture without asking several times, “Are you with me?”

The college registered 110 new students over the fall and winter terms, 35 more than had registered during the same period the previous year. The campus student population was now at 442. There were no plans to enroll a spring or summer term, but 90 students were expected in the fall term alone. The increase in tuition from $950/term to $1,050/term provided a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 1979-1980, but more would be needed if the college was to demonstrate long-term financial stability. To that end, Dr. Vear changed his fundraising campaign to focus on finding 300 chiropractors to donate $50/month for the next three years. If successful, this would generate $180,000 a year, clearly enough to bring about long-term financial stability. In the first half of fiscal year 1979-1980, the college received $42,500 in donations.

Vear 300 Club letter

Promotion of the college was not limited to fundraising only; the college also employed marketing strategies designed to increase visibility of the institution within the immediate geographic area. In early 1980, WSCC teamed with Nike to sponsor a 10-kilometer “Chiropractic Fun Run.”

Marketing brochure for WSCC ‘Chiropractic Fun Run

The likelihood the college would generate $180,000 in the first year was so low additional strategies had to be explored. The most frequent solution proposed whenever the college found itself in a financial crisis was to change campuses. Property values had increased significantly over the past seven years and the appraised value of the campus had reached $1.75 million. With approximately $800,000 in equity, trading for another campus was an attractive option. The college did not put the campus up for sale, but made it known to area schools and colleges that it was contemplating a move. Within a matter of days, an offer came from Portland Christian Schools to swap their Holy Child campus for the WSCC campus, plus the difference in equity.

Negotiations between the two schools consumed much of 1980, but in the end, a mutually satisfactory agreement could not be reached. Having failed to acquire a more affordable campus, the college decided to remain where it was and build a clinic on the property. This was a remarkably bold decision considering the college’s accreditation status remained uncertain. Nevertheless, the college continued looking optimistically to the future.

Construction costs for a campus clinic could be partially offset by rent the college was paying on the 102nd Street clinic, but it would not be enough to break even. Achieving full accreditation status was totally dependent on the college’s ability to demonstrate financial stability. The college was unwilling to assume an additional financial burden without first having the demonstrated means to offset the indebtedness.

The administration proposed a creative, albeit shortsighted, approach, to generate the needed revenue. The college planned to sell the entire eastern half of the campus to a developer who would divide the parcel into 40 lots on which to build residential housing. This would generate more than enough in the way of revenue to demonstrate financially stability. In selling the eastern half of the campus, the college would lose the annex (the administration building) and the area used for student parking. This was a serious drawback. With 442 students on campus, facilities were already stretched to capacity and in some cases, beyond. Losing the annex and parking would only compound problems. Nevertheless, the college continued to search for an interested developer.