Chapter 9, Part 3 – Alumni Association
At the June 1986 meeting of the WSCC Board of Trustees, the alumni association was expected to present the results of an alumni membership vote to change their bylaws. Eight months had passed since the association had informed the board of its desire to remain “separate and distinct” from the college. Over those eight months the Board of Trustees had informed the association on several occasions that its position was unacceptable. The board had respectfully requested the association change its bylaws to reflect a subordinate role to college administration and turn over all funds it had collected in the college’s name. The association failed to appear at the meeting. An irate President Vear declared the situation “…could only be resolved in one of two ways; 1) that they change their bylaws in keeping with the board’s request or 2) that the board disband the Alumni Association and reappoint it with bylaws established by the Board.”
On August 1, 1986, William H. Dallas, DC, officially became president of Western States Chiropractic College. One of his first official duties was to preside over the dedication ceremony of the new campus clinic. In October, Dr. Vear returned to the college from Canada to participate in the observance.
Difficulties with the alumni association worsened in October 1986 when the visiting CCE site team discovered the association was acting inappropriately and outside its authority by fundraising in the college’s name and using the college’s tax-exempt status. In not having control of the proceeds from the association’s fundraising efforts, the college was in clear violation of CCE standards. Patience with the association was wearing thin. The association’s position regarding college non-compliance with CCE standards did not endear it to the new president. The association felt it was separate and distinct from the college and therefore, standards violations were the administration’s problem and of no concern to them.
President Dallas appeared before the CCE in January 1987 to respond to questions regarding the few concerns identified by the site team during its visit to the college in October. CCE commended the college on the progress it had made over the previous two years. Feeling the college had successfully addressed all of its concerns, CCE reaffirmed the accreditation of WSCC for four years.
In early spring 1987, Dr. Dallas, with the support and urging of faculty, staff, students and fellow administrators, proposed an ambitious five-point plan for the college. The Board of Trustees approved the plan by resolution and directed Dr. Dallas to implement it as quickly as possible. The plan outlined specific goals and objectives to be achieved:
- increase entering class sizes from 115 to 130 by the fall of 1989 and maintain a steady-state enrollment of 418 students
- increase research activity with an emphasis on clinical trials
- conclude planning and start construction of a new auditorium by fall of 1989
- expand clinic services by making greater use of the profession and by providing greater access to the public
- dedicate 10 percent of all gifts and grants received by the college to an endowment fund
In spring 1987, the governor of Oregon signed a bill allocating $30,000 to conduct chiropractic research. The $30,000 came from a budgetary overage by the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (OBCE). It was left to the OBCE to determine the specific research project to be funded. At that time, complaints about chiropractic participation in the state workers’ compensation system were circulating. Chiropractic reimbursement from workers’ compensation claims amounted to a mere fraction of all compensation paid to health care providers, but chiropractic services were viewed by some insurers and the medical profession as “non-essential.” The OBCE felt that data gathered from the workers’ compensation system could provide a more accurate reflection of chiropractic.
Dr. Nyiendo submitted her proposal for a retrospective analysis of services provided through the largest workers’ compensation insurance provider in Oregon, State Accident Industrial Fund (SAIF.) The study was to compare costs and outcomes of medical services to costs and outcomes of chiropractic services for SAIF patients with low back pain. Dr. Nyiendo was notified shortly after her submission that she had been chosen to conduct her study. No one could have predicted the important role her study would play, but first, data had to be gathered and analyzed.
In early fall, President Dallas and WSCC administrative representatives drove to Salem to meet with the executive director of the Oregon Education Coordinating Committee (OECC), to discuss college plans to offer a bachelor of science degree. Authorization to offer a BS degree was ultimately the purview of the Northwest Association of Schools and College, but the OECC had “review authority” and a letter of recommendation from the committee was required. Any reservations about the college OECC may have expressed in the past were absent on this occasion. The executive director was receptive to the college’s plan and shared his expectation of committee approval. The director’s assessment was correct. The OECC approved the college’s plan to offer a BS degree and a letter of recommendation was forwarded to NWASC.
As fall 1987 drew to a close, the college found itself in a stronger, more stable position. More new students had enrolled in the fall class than were expected. Elaine Johnston Erdman, DC, a former member of the board, joined the college to assist in admissions, alumni affairs, public relations, and development. Recognizing her many diverse talents, the college increasingly called upon her to play a greater role in the growth and development of college. Ultimately, Dr. Erdman would be given administrative authority over clinic education and operations, a position she remained in for 18 years. As a member of the president’s cabinet, she championed the clinical training of student/interns, contending it was the apex of their chiropractic education and training. Her unrelenting dedication to this premise ensured that students receiving their clinical education and training during her tenure benefited from an unsurpassed experience.
Three months after Dr. Erdmann joined the college, Mitchell Haas, DC, was offered a position as well. The college couldn’t have known, at the time, just how adept Dr. Haas would become at attracting chiropractic research funding and just how prolific he would become in having his articles published in scientific and professional journals. Within a matter of three short years, Dr. Haas became an FCER research resident, securing funding for half of his salary. He would go on to conduct or participate in dozens of funded research projects, attracting millions of dollars in grant money. Dr. Haas would eventually become the dean of research and oversee the WSCC Center for Outcomes Research. He was instrumental in advancing the presence of chiropractic in the American Public Health Association, becoming chair of the chiropractic health care section, a governing councilor and a member of the APHA executive board. Dr. Haas received a Distinguished Service Award from the APHA in 1997 for his contributions. He would be elected president of the Oregon Public Health Association in 2002. It surprised no one when he was recognized by the Federation of Chiropractic Education and Research as their Chiropractic Researcher of the Year.
1987 did not produce a cessation of hostilities between the college and the alumni association. In late fall, the association informed the college that it had raised over $40,000 for the college and it was “considering” a “probable” contribution of $35,000 to the college’s endowment fund. Once it had the support of the membership, it would notify the college of its decision. In response, President Dallas informed the association that the time for “consideration” and “probabilities” had passed. He directed them to surrender all funds and concede to college authority immediately. The college was in violation of CCE standards because of the association’s position and actions. From Dr. Dallas’ perspective, this was a mandate for action requiring no further deliberation or hesitation by the association. The Dallas administration provided the association the same options it had been presented by the Vear administration. They could either change their bylaws and surrender all money collected in the college’s name, or be disbanded by the Board of Trustees and reconfigured with new bylaws in keeping with college expectations and accreditation standards. The year ended with this conflict unresolved.
Most notably, 1987 will go down in chiropractic history as the year in which the chiropractic profession won its anti-trust lawsuit against the American Medical Association. After 11 years of legal battles, the Wilk et al v. AMA et al No. 90-542 was settled. A federal appellate court judge ruled the AMA had engaged in a “…lengthy, systematic, successful and unlawful boycott…” designed to restrict cooperation between the medical and chiropractic professions. The AMA had conspired to eliminate the chiropractic profession as a competitor in the U.S. health care system. After years of testimony, evidence, depositions, documents and proceedings, it was concluded the AMA had attempted to:
- undermine chiropractic schools
- undercut insurance programs
- conceal evidence of the effectiveness of chiropractic care
- subvert government inquiries into the effectiveness of chiropractic
- promote other activities that would control the monopoly the AMA had on health care
These conclusions were upheld by the 7th United States Circuit Court of Appeals. The settlement included an injunctive order instructing the AMA to cease its efforts to restrict the chiropractic profession. The AMA was further instructed to share the findings of the court with its members. The court also instructed the American Hospital Association (AHA) to send out 440,000 separate notices informing hospitals the AHA had no objections to allowing chiropractic care in hospitals.