Chapter 7, Part 8 – 1980
In early summer 1980, the college was approached by the Hinson Baptist Church and the Burlington Northern Railroad with offers to buy the campus. As attractive as the offers were, they came too late to the change the college’s decision to remain where it was. By mid-summer, the administration had abandoned efforts to sell the eastern half of the campus, recognizing the sale would cause more and greater problems than it would solve. Ultimately, the college settled on an entirely different approach to establish financial stability: cost-cutting.
The administration decided that positions made vacant by departing faculty and staff would not be immediately filled, and salaries for remaining faculty and staff would be frozen. The college cafeteria, which was operating at a loss of $1,000/month, was leased to a group of students willing to assume its operation. By fall term, the college’s austere measures had significantly improved its financial situation. Fundraising efforts had increased annual contributions by $20,000 and cutting costs had significantly reduced operating expenses–enough for the college to make its final $40,000 payment on a bank loan.
The year had begun with the college successfully negotiating an extension of its recognized candidate status; other entities challenging the college would not be nearly as accommodating. By mid-1980,tensions between the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the college had reached counterproductive levels. The college was in receipt of an “invitation” from the Washington State attorney general (AG) to sign a consent order. This time the issue centered on a letter sent to the WBCE by former President Timmins in which he stated that in 1977 the college offered a 3,600-hour chiropractic program. The historical record is unclear regarding the reason for Dr. Timmins’ letter, but in referencing a 3,600-hour chiropractic curriculum, the letter erroneously conveyed the college was not teaching the required 4,000-hour minimum for licensure in Washington.
If the college signed the consent order as written, it would agree to accept a sentence disproportionate to the “crime,” (an error in this case), and suffer undue punishment. The AG’s consent order contained elements that were onerous at best and dangerous at worst:
- The WBCE would withdraw its recognition of WSCC for a period of three years.
- During that three-year period, the college would submit reports to the WBCE every six months detailing any changes in curriculum; an inventory of in-class coursework and out-of-class coursework hours; evidence that the college was teaching at least 4,000 hours in its DC program; demonstrate how the curriculum meets WBCE requirements for the teaching of specific subject matter and any changes in faculty, administration or in administrative organization.
- The college would provide the WBCE with copies of CCE reports, audited financial statements, answers to any interrogatories the WBCE might direct and the college would make itself available for on-site inspections by the WBCE.
The college registrar would be required to certify, in writing, that each graduate from WSCC making application for licensure in Washington had completed all 4,000 hours of study.
Wisely, the college refused to sign the consent order, knowing full well that even the slightest deviation from the dictates of the order would likely jeopardize the college’s accreditation standing in Washington for years.
In June 1980, the college and the Washington state office of the attorney general settled on a less taxing solution. The college felt the punishment remained disproportionate, but both parties walked away with something each could claim as victory. The college agreed to provide the WBCE with progress reports and audits every six months and furnish copies of its CCE self-studies. In exchange, the college would be placed on “probation” for six years, but finally, WSCC graduates would be allowed to sit for licensure in Washington.
By the end of 1980, the college felt that it had accomplished all it could in any one year. Formidable obstacles had been overcome, and advances had been made. The college was confident that its austere measures and fundraising efforts had adequately addressed issues related to financial stability, and it was prepared to share that perspective with the CCE in January.
The appraised value of the campus property had risen substantially, which significantly increased the college’s equity position and its financial portfolio. Additionally, the college could demonstrate that it was financially strong enough to build a new clinic on campus if consent of the County Rezoning Commission could be obtained. The college was prepared to show that its differences with the WBCE and the Washington state office of the attorney general had been resolved, freeing the college to concentrate on other pressing matters. More than 300 prospective students had applied for the 1980 fall term; half of whom were turned away. President Vear and CCE consultants had guided the college through a self-study process and the campus had hosted a CCE site team visit in the fall. The college was in its strongest position ever. There would not be a better time for its all-or-nothing appearance before the Council on Chiropractic Education.