Chapter 9, Part 2 – OHSU Visit
Given the political climate at the time, OECC’s decision to invite three professors from OHSU to conduct an evaluation of a chiropractic program was tantamount to inviting the fox into the hen house. The chiropractic profession was engaged in legal action against the American Medical Association for conspiring to eliminate chiropractic as a profession. At the very moment OECC was appointing a team of medical college professors to conduct an evaluation visit to WSCC, the case was being argued on appeal before the federal appellate courts. The college felt the appointment of three OHSU professors stacked the deck against them. Nevertheless, the college had consented to OECC’s evaluation and chose to withhold its displeasure with the makeup of the team.
Following its visit to the college, the OHSU evaluation team forwarded a report of its findings and recommendations to the OECC. Based on the report and recommendations of the team, OECC identified seven “specific conditions of authorization” the college would have to fulfill to have its degree-granting authority reinstated:
Condition No. 1: WSCC must employ at least a half-time PhD in physiology no later than January 1987 and a full-time PhD in physiology by the fall 1988 academic year.
WSCC did not initially accept this condition. The college informed OECC that its preference was to “seek a second opinion” prior to action on this item. The college would appoint a team of consultants, to include faculty from OHSU, to review the WSCC physiology faculty and curriculum.
Condition No. 2: WSCC must submit for approval of the OECC a comprehensive faculty development plan to include:
- commitment to have a majority of PhD faculty in basic sciences and at least one in each discipline taught
- improvements in faculty preparation to teach
- faculty with only a Master’s degree must have an additional year of specialized study in the discipline they teach
- systematic efforts to train DCs in specialized areas they teach
- efforts to hire graduates from other chiropractic colleges
- an acceptable schedule by which to achieve these improvements.
Despite some minor reservations, the college had no difficulty complying with this demand.
Condition No. 3: By 1991 WSCC must have an admission requirement of at least 18 semester hours in social science and humanities, including four in psychology, six in humanities and six in social science. Measures must be in place by January 1987 that will permit students to satisfy this requirement after matriculating at WSCC.
This requirement was not a problem; CCE intended to make this a requirement anyway. As for the requirement to provide something to enrolled students by year’s end, the college felt OECC was overstepping its authority by requiring the college to teach undergraduate courses. They felt this was a ludicrous, wasteful and inappropriate imposition, if not an outright abuse of OECC power.
Nevertheless, the college went out of its way to create and offer six elective courses of four credits each in the social sciences and humanities at $10/credit hour*:
- Forms and Meaning of Poetry
- History of the Pacific Northwest
- Introduction to Social Sciences
- 20th Century Literature
- History of the Western Civilization
- Introduction to Literature – Drama
*Only one student ever enrolled for any of these courses.
Condition No. 4: WSCC must assure OECC that the college and its auditors will correct errors in financial accounting and analysis.
The college informed OECC that errors identified by the auditors are routinely corrected by the college. The college reassured OECC that current errors had been corrected and additional safeguards put in place to ensure no further errors of the kind were made.
Condition No. 5: WSCC must improve its catalog description regarding Oregon licensing requirements and examination procedures so that prospective students have sufficient understanding of the process
The college informed OECC of changes reflected in the new catalog.
Condition No. 6: Before fall 1986 WSCC will create and implement a plan for financial development that will relieve the college of its tuition dependency.
Condition No. 7: WSCC should form and carry out a plan to broaden representation on the Board of Trustees.
The college chose to respond to Condition 6 and 7 in a single, brief statement. The college informed OECC that the board had already developed a financial plan to reduce the college’s dependency on tuition and it was willing to create a committee to address diversity of board representation.
Although some additional negotiation on the conditions was required, by mid-1986, the responses submitted by the college were deemed acceptable by the executive director of the Oregon Educational Coordinating Committee.
To the benefit of the college, one of the OHSU professors on the evaluation team, “…consulted with people at the medical school who had known Dr. Richard Gillette and they reported that he was perhaps the brightest neurophysiologist they had ever had.” At the time of the team’s visit to the college, Professor Richard Gillette was a member of the WSCC basic science faculty. Dr. Gillette had joined the faculty in 1981 to teach neurophysiology, a capacity in which he would go on to serve for over 29 years. Early in his teaching career at WSCC, he returned to OHSU to complete his PhD in neuro-sciences. It remains a distinct possibility the college benefitted greatly from having such a recognized member on its faculty.
Dr. Tolar appeared before the OECC to report on the college’s progress towards meeting the seven specific conditions of authorization. Pleased with the college’s progress, OECC conferred to WSCC the authority to grant degrees for three years. Furthermore, if WSCC was successful in achieving accreditation through NWASC, OECC “…will have nothing more to say in this regard.” The college was very fortunate to have Drs. Tolar and Gillette present at the college at a most critical moment. Once WSCC received NWASC accreditation, OECC concerns would evaporate. Again, the college had faced a perilous situation only to survive it and prosper.