Chapter 8, Part 2 – 1983
As the college and the nation entered 1983, the U.S. economy showed some signs of improvement, but not enough to declare a recovery. The recession continued to ripple through the nation, demoralizing those trying to find a way out of financial difficulty. Early in the year, the college administration reported the college had survived the worst of the recession and would be able to operate within the budget through spring term. Midway through the previous year, the college had embarked upon an aggressive capital campaign to retire the college’s mortgage within four years. The plan was to identify 1,000 chiropractors willing to give $500/year over the next three years. If the college collected only half of that amount, the college would achieve financial stability. By mid-1983, the college had collected only $15,000 towards its objective, and the college discontinued its campaign.
Fortunately for the college, it was able to add two new members to the faculty in 1983. In April, Anita Roberts, DC, joined the clinic faculty as a clinic director, a position she remained in until moving to the campus to run the student clinic. When she finished her “tour of duty” in the student clinic, she returned to the outpatient clinic to pursue her passions of providing patient care and mentoring interns. Eventually, she volunteered to work in the college’s Columbia Integrated Care Center on Airport Way.
Peter Shull, DC, joined the clinical science faculty to teach two physical diagnosis courses: gastroenterology and cardio/respiratory diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Shull became known for his prolific authorship of note packets to support his classroom instruction, all of which were inches thick. Upon graduation, many, if not all of Dr. Shull’s former students, retained their copies of his notes and still have them today.
In February 1983, the college reported enrollment over the past four years had dropped from an all-time high of 550 students to 445. Total enrollment for 1986 was projected to be somewhere between 380 and 395. The large classes of the late 70s had migrated through the program and increasingly smaller classes were now enrolling. Enrollment numbers were expected to dip even further because of a new CCE admission requirement in effect for fall 1983. In addition to a year of biology and chemistry, students would have to complete a year of physics as well.
The recession had devastated the practices of many chiropractors, especially those that had only recently started. Without the business skills to survive economic hard times, an appalling number of chiropractors went out of business. This regrettable outcome motivated the college to incorporate the teaching of sound business practices into its core curriculum. The college felt an obligation to produce clinically competent physicians prepared to run small businesses.
Federal Grant Awarded
As widespread as the recession was, it had a negligible impact on the college’s efforts to conduct research. WSCC was beginning to enjoy dividends from its years of investment in research. In evaluating socio-graphic data for that period, the college discovered the U.S. had only one Native American chiropractor.
Armed with this information, Dr. Joanne Nyiendo, WSCC director of research, applied for a Health Career Opportunities Program (HCOP) grant through the U.S. Department of Education. If funded, the grant would support three consecutive summer education programs for 12 Native Americans interested in pursuing a chiropractic career. WSCC was awarded a $250,000 grant to support the proposal. This was the first federally-funded grant ever awarded to a chiropractic college.
Numerous federal grants would follow over successive decades, placing WSCC at the forefront of chiropractic research.
At the time Dr. Nyiendo was applying for the HCOP grant, she was overseeing a clinic utilization research project involving 2,040 consecutive new patients presenting to the WSCC outpatient clinic for care. Historically, research from the chiropractic community had been published almost exclusively in chiropractic journals for consumption by chiropractors. The greater health-sciences community knew very little about chiropractic or the services offered by chiropractors. Dr. Nyiendo’s WSCC clinic study was remarkable in that it offered revealing insights into the clinical practice of chiropractic. Furthermore, the study would be used to introduce the field of chiropractic practice to other health care professionals.
In a collaborative effort, Dr. Nyiendo and Scott Haldeman, DC, MD, submitted their study for presentation at the September 1983 meeting of the International Congress of Manual Medicine (ICMM) in Geneva, Switzerland. Within a matter of days, Drs. Nyiendo and Haldeman were notified by the congress that their submission would not be presented, since “…the word ‘chiropractor’ could not be mentioned at the conference because half of the medical doctors would get up and walk out.” Upon learning of this insult, Dr. Kirkaldy Willis, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on manipulative therapy, petitioned the ICMM to reconsider its position. The ICMM denied his request in rather blunt terms, “We don’t accept chiropractors.” Fortunately, the attitude displayed by the ICMM did not deter Dr. Nyiendo’s research efforts. If anything, the affront and the rudeness by which it was delivered, only incited a redoubling of her efforts to engage the scientific community on its turf and on its terms. Her tireless dedication to responsible, rational chiropractic research contributed significantly to the credibility and respectability WSCC and the entire chiropractic profession enjoys today.
By summer 1983, more than 100 WSCC graduates had been denied licensure by the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners (WBCE). Unless the college could rectify this situation, it would lose prospective students from Washington, which at that time represented the largest percentage of enrolling students from any one state. The college elicited the support of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) once again, but WBCE refused to recognize the authority of CCE. The WBCE considered itself an autonomous accrediting agency and solely responsible for determining the qualifications of applicants for licensure in Washington. It was the conclusion of the WBCE that WSCC did not teach enough philosophy. Consequently, graduates from WSCC were ineligible to sit the licensure examination.
The position taken by the WBCE put the college in a very difficult situation. From the college’s perspective, it was improper to allow licensing boards to dictate an institution’s curriculum, to do so would set a dangerous precedent. Not even the WSCC administration or board was allowed to dictate curriculum. Curriculum development at WSCC was the domain and responsibility of faculty, as is the case at other institutions of higher learning. The faculty recognized the predicament in which the college found itself, and volunteered to review the entire curriculum for hours dedicated to chiropractic philosophy. This resulted in the renaming of courses in which chiropractic philosophy was taught, but not reflected in the title of the course. Dr. Vear accepted the offer by faculty to rename some of the courses in the college’s catalog and WSCC was finally put back on the list of chiropractic colleges recognized by Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners.