Riekeman named president at Life

A former Palmer College of Chiropractic president will lead a Georgia chiropractic school that was a Palmer competitor and is now rebuilding after experiencing accreditation problems. Guy Riekeman ignited a furor when he resigned his post as president and chancellor of Palmer’s university system Feb. 5 in protest of decisions made by the institution’s board of trustees. He will take office immediately at Life University in Marietta, Ga., where Ben DeSpain resigned as president Tuesday. In a statement, Riekeman thanked the Life board of trustees for “this opportunity to lead a university that I have developed such affection for. As a result of your leadership, the university is now ready to face new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us. “I know that I have much to learn over the coming months, but I also know that I can depend on the advice and counsel of all members of the Life community, from our faculty, staff and students here on campus to the trustees, alumni and the chiropractic family around the world.” Charles Ribley, the chairman of the Life University board, said Riekeman “epitomizes Life’s fundamental commitments to chiropractic scholarship, teaching and service to others. “His character and outstanding human qualities have made Dr. Riekeman a valued colleague among chiropractic educators and an inspiration to students.” Riekeman had been president at Palmer for five years and chancellor of the university system of campuses in Davenport, California and Florida for eight months when he resigned. The board and Riekeman acknowledged that he resigned because of resolutions passed by the board, namely a requirement for board approval of hiring and salary increases and the employment of Larry Patten as a consultant to gather information for the board. Patten resigned after a 1997 vote of no confidence in the school’s administration by organizations connected with Palmer. The Palmer board also ordered an audit, which Riekeman supported. Officials said the audit may take several months to complete. Students publicly protested twice, the first time over a noon hour at the campus along Brady Street in Davenport. At the second, students marched to the office of board chairman Vickie Palmer, who is the great-granddaughter of chiropractic’s founder. Also, 759 students signed a vote of no confidence in the board. An alumni vote of no confidence gathered more than 600 signatures. Several alumni have said they either have pulled or will pull their financial support for the school and will no longer refer future students to the campus. The faculty senate, however, issued a letter of support for the board of trustees. “In this time of transition,” it said, “it is important to remember that the accomplishments of Palmer College or the entire Palmer Chiropractic University System do not rest on the shoulders of any one individual.” Palmer College, in a statement issued Thursday, said: “Life University is a fellow institution in chiropractic education, and Dr. Riekeman is a graduate of Palmer, a former employee and now a colleague. We wish him and Life University the very best and anticipate that we will be able to work together to assure the positive advancement of chiropractic as a primary health-care provider.” Life University, once the largest chiropractic school in the country with 4,000 students, lost its accreditation in June 2002, which meant its students could no longer take licensing exams. Several Life students came to finish their schooling at Palmer as enrollment plummeted at the Georgia campus. The battle resulted in several lawsuits and an injunction from a federal judge that put the accreditation temporarily on hold, according to newspaper accounts. A settlement between Life and the Council on Chiropractic education, the organization that accredits all chiropractic schools, reinstated accreditation in June 2003. Life’s president and founder, Sid Williams, is a Palmer graduate. He retired shortly after the institution lost its accreditation. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about his retirement said the move raised “an age-old question for the future: How will an institution so closely tied with the dynamic and visible personality of its founder survive his departure?” Riekeman, according to the statement announcing his appointment, is “renowned not only for being a powerful motivational speaker, but for his creation of several professional development seminar programs.” This information is reprinted with permission of the Quad-City Times. Copyright 2004. Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or [email protected].

Share this post: