|Statement by Dr. Sid E. Williams, Founder and former President of Life University
I have refrained from offering any public comment until this time on the matter of Life University and its accreditation struggle with the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). Today, in my capacity as a private citizen with no connections whatsoever to the school, I feel compelled to offer my observations on the unfortunate developments over the past few days.
It was my most sincere hope that the accrediting body would, in the end, see the wisdom, indeed the justice, of extending the accreditation of what was, and I hope will again one day be the world's largest and most well known chiropractic educational institution. I am shocked and saddened beyond words at the decision to deny Life its chance to continue as an accredited institution. I believe that this decision was made for a host of complex reasons, many of which are highly suspect and demand further investigation by those organizations and agencies concerned with fairness in the marketplace, and most especially in the marketplace of ideas.
I believe that their decision to deny Life's appeal is a revealing message to the world of chiropractic education and to the chiropractic community at large from those in power in the CCE, that there can be only one way to approach educating chiropractic professionals; their way. The flexibility and tolerance that such bodies are supposed to display to differing philosophies has died under their drive to eliminate those principles with which they do not agree. This is a true American tragedy for which those responsible, while probably smug in their moment of victory should, in the quiet of their hearts be deeply ashamed.
In the end, it will be the students, who in their thousands embraced the vitalistic principles enshrined at Life, who will suffer the greatest loss. The elimination of the opportunity to receive an education anchored in the unique values and philosophy of chiropractic at Life will close an important frontier in health care. They will not be able to follow in the footsteps of the nearly 12,000 doctors of chiropractic who have already gone forward throughout the world as Life graduates to practice the powerful healing methods unique to chiropractic. The greatest legacy to the world of health care and to the chiropractic is the tremendous record of healing, love and service Life graduates have established, and will continue to display as they give of themselves to those in need.
I am most deeply disturbed at the cavalier manner in which the accrediting body cast aside what should have been priority concerns about the Life student body and the disruption, cost and hardship their uncompromising stand has caused. Likewise, the harm to the community and the inevitable blow to the local economy are no small consequences of the CCE's behavior.
I want to express my very grave fear that the CCE's efforts to shape chiropractic education in their limited direction will not end with Life. Those schools who base their educational focus on the subluxation and the chiropractic adjustment will now be forced to re-configure their educational offerings to include less chiropractic-specific training and more common domain procedures, intruding into the realm of medicine. If they do not, they will face the same exclusionary actions confronted by Life. The argument will go forward that in order to serve the public, doctors of chiropractic must have a broader, more medical education so that they can offer themselves as "primary care physicians. In the mind of the public, in the minds of most public policy makers, and in the letter of the law in the State of Georgia, "primary care physician" means medical doctor.
I understand that the CCE and others will try and offer a definition that seeks to qualify this notion, offering a revised and enhanced role for the chiropractor. I say that there should be clear, precise lines between the professions and that the public is entitled to such clarity. Those who aspire to primary care physician status owe it to the public to qualify at the highest level of attainment, by seeking a medical education and obtaining a medical license. Likewise, those educational institutions seeking to educate such providers should seek medical accreditation. Anything in between is presumptuous and, possibly even of danger to the public.
Honesty, objectivity and above all, an understanding and embrace of what chiropractic is, and it is not the practice of medicine, is the only way out of the danger zone that the pursuit of this status, without going the full route to a true medical qualification, can only drag the chiropractic profession.
This is a battle that is far from over. Over the coming months and years, I intend to devote all of my energies to the public policy processes, both state and federal that regulate the activities of organizations like the CCE. My decades of dedication and experience in chiropractic education will, I believe, provide a unique vantage point from which to act to make fundamental changes in the system that has dealt so arbitrarily, callously and, I believe unfairly, with Life.
I am excited about the period of re-definition and challenge ahead and believe strongly in American justice, both formal and informal. I believe that in the end, the quality of education at Life will be vindicated, in the policy process, the court of public opinion and in any and all venues where such issues are debated and decided. I know that I am not alone in this belief.