Palmer problems persist as donors pull funding

The husband and wife leading a $35 million capital campaign at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport have resigned their positions and withdrawn their $220,000 pledge, saying they are “confused and disgusted” by school governing board actions that led to the resignation of president and chancellor Guy Riekeman earlier this month. . Students continued their protests Tuesday, marching down Brady Street to the office of Vickie Palmer, the board chairman and great-granddaughter of chiropractic’s founder. A vote of no confidence sent to Palmer on Friday with 759 signatures will be forwarded to one of the school’s accrediting agencies today, a student leader said. . A Web site designed to gather the thoughts of Palmer alumni on Riekeman’s resignation, as well as to tally alumni votes of no confidence in the governing board, is up and running at . Meanwhile, a handful of students are speaking out in favor of Riekeman’s resignation and the faculty senate is drafting a letter in support of the board. . Faculty senate president Mark Doerrfeld likened the split between Palmer and Riekeman to the divorce of two people who appeared on the outside to have a perfect marriage but really did not. As of Tuesday afternoon, 55 faculty members said they supported the letter and Doerrfeld expected more positive responses to come. The school has 91 faculty members, he said. . Angela Thomas, a Palmer student, joined Doerrfeld in her support of the board. . “The fact remains that Riekeman resigned. He quit. If he is unhappy with that, it’s his problem,” she said. “The students need to refocus on their studies, upcoming finals and becoming qualified, competent doctors of chiropractic.” . Finals at Palmer begin Friday. Graduation is set for Feb. 27. . Riekeman resigned his position as president of Palmer College and as chancellor of the Palmer University System on Feb. 5. He had been president for five years, chancellor for eight months. . The board and Riekeman have acknowledged that he resigned because of resolutions passed by the board, namely a requirement that the board approve hiring and salary increases, and the employment of Larry Patten as a consultant to gather information for the board. Patten resigned in 1997 after a vote of no confidence in the administration. The board said his hiring is on a temporary basis “to ensure that the board has accurate and timely information to make informed and appropriate decisions related to university affairs.” . The board and Riekeman also say he supported an audit requested by the board. They agree that there was a communication problem between them. . Thomas and Mary Ann Morgan chaired the capital campaign that was set to raise $35 million for a learning resource center, operating costs and scholarships. The Morgans hope for Riekeman’s return, but Thomas Morgan said he believes the board is set in its decision. “Past history is that they do what they want,” he added. . In a letter to the board in which he rescinded his own pledge, Morgan wrote: “I simply cannot get up in front of the alumni now and ask for money with a good heart or clear conscience. What I am left with is a sadness for what you have done. On the only positive note I can think of, I can always look back to the past five years and have the knowledge of what power and enthusiasm can be generated from Palmer, when a true leader in the profession is our president.” . Morgan joins several alumni who support Riekeman, said Mary Flannery, a Palmer graduate who is organizing the no confidence vote online at The “polls” will close on Monday. . “The bigger issue is about how the board is not accountable,” she said. “One small group is creating all of the answers.” . Flannery joined more than 100 students who marched down Brady Street, holding signs in support of Riekeman on Tuesday morning. Vickie Palmer was not in her office when students were there, she said, adding that she was meeting off-campus with representatives of the college. . Marc Ott, who is scheduled to graduate in February 2005, said students take offense at Vickie Palmer comparing the loss of Riekeman with a teacher leaving her third-grade class. . “We’re not in third grade. Many of us have children in third grade,” he said. “We didn’t spend $150,000 to go to third grade.” . The vote of no confidence will be delivered to the North Central Association, one of the school’s accrediting organizations, today, he said. And while they want Riekeman back as president and chancellor, students also want to be informed about what is going on at the school, he added. . “This is bigger than a person’s job,” he said. This information is reprinted with permission of the Quad-City Times. Copyright 2004.

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