Administrative adjustments don’t sit well with students

Guy Riekeman resigned as president of Palmer College of Chiropractic and chancellor of the Palmer system last week because of conflicts with the board of trustees but would return if those disagreements are resolved. Speaking Monday night to students at a standing-room-only session at First Baptist Church near the Davenport campus, he said the way he was allowed to communicate with the board contributed to his resignation. He also said he has a “serious concern” about the board “crossing the line from governance into management.” He had been presented with board resolutions that would have “stripped administration of all its authority,” said Riekeman, President of Palmer College since 1998 and chancellor since July of the system that includes the school in Davenport and campuses in California and Florida. “It became for me an impossible working environment,” he said during the hour-long session where he received two standing ovations. The school’s enrollment is solid, and its financial situation is good, Riekeman said. But communication with the board has been “difficult” since shortly after he was named chancellor. He could not communicate with individual board members directly and ultimately, communication was through Vickie Palmer’s office only, he said. Palmer is chairman of the board and great-granddaughter of founder D.D. Palmer. Palmer said Monday that it is the job of the chancellor to keep in touch with the board, and that the chairman is the point person for the board. Palmer said the board has several functions, including policy and financial, as well as appointing leadership. “We understand our role very well,” she said. And as for Riekeman’s return, she said: “The board accepted his resignation and I believe that the board stands true to that.” Earlier in the day, students protested over the noon hour at the campus along Brady Street in Davenport. About 150 students carrying signs showed their support for Riekeman while standing in the cold. The signs read: “Keep the good Guy.” “Fledgling chiros unite for Riekeman.” “Palmer’s future needs Riekeman.” One sign, “United we stand for Riekeman” required six people to hold. Bolden Harris, president of the student council, said Riekeman was moving the college and the chiropractic profession in the right direction. “He’s a man of integrity. He’s got a great vision for this school and the profession,” he said of Riekeman as the crowd cheered in the background and a car drove by honking its horn. Interim president Don Kern, while watching the protest from a fourth-floor window, encouraged students to base their opinions on fact, not emotion. He acknowledged that Riekeman had been a “very popular” president but hopes students will concentrate on the work they are there to do. “It saddens me to see them being so distracted from their studies,” he said. Students also passed around two petitions on Monday. One asked the board and Riekeman to talk about his return to leadership. The second was for a no-confidence vote in Vickie Palmer and the board. Riekeman said he is not asking, nor will not ask, students to protest or leave the school, just to follow their own conscience. “I’ve always been known for integrity and responsibility. I don’t want to incite people to do things,” he said. He is asking those contributing to the school’s $35 million capital campaign to continue to do so. Riekeman has received other job offers, but he and his wife, Annie, will not consider anything for at least a month, he said. He hopes to return to Palmer. “I want to go back to work,” he said. “There is no better place to get a chiropractic education.” Ann McGlynn can be contacted at. (563) 383-2336 or [email protected]. This information is reprinted with permission of the Quad-City Times. Copyright 2004.

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