A news release from Life President Ben DeSpain, DC, on the university's Web site2 related the complete statement to Life's "family and friends":
Life University and the Council on Chiropractic Education are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement to resolve the issues surrounding the accreditation status of the university's doctor of chiropractic program.The agreement continues Life's current accredited status and provides for a special accreditation process that is scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2005.
Tensions between Life and the CCE began more than two years ago, when the CCE put Life's chiropractic program on probation. A year later, the Council revoked the school's accreditation for failing to comply with the CCE's educational standards.3 Life immediately appealed that decision, but on Oct. 20, 2002, the appeal was rejected and the school's accreditation was nullified.4
In the wake of these tumultuous developments, several class-action lawsuits were filed against the university,4-6 and long-time college president Sid Williams, DC, who had stepped down in July 2002, filed a lawsuit himself.7 All of these lawsuits are ongoing as of press time, and appear unaffected by the current agreement between Life and the CCE.
In January 2003, Life filed suit against the Council, seeking an immediate injunction that would reinstate accreditation of the school's chiropractic program.8 One month later, Federal Judge Charles E. Moye Jr. granted a preliminary injunction that restored Life's accreditation retroactive to June 7, 2002, the date it had been stripped by the CCE.9 The Council announced almost immediately that it would appeal the decision.10
The most damaging effect of the Life/CCE debacle may be the dramatic decline in student enrollment at Life University (current enrollment is approximately 1,200, compared to a 1995 high of more than 4,000).11 Other chiropractic colleges throughout the U.S. have also seen substantial declines in enrollment. Overall, enrollment at all U.S. chiropractic colleges combined has fallen from more than 15,000 in 1997 to approximately 10,000 in 2003.
Nonetheless, Life presented diplomas to 230 students on June 16 - the first full graduating class since the university's accreditation crisis began. Of the 230 graduates, 190 received doctor of chiropractic degrees.
"This is a day many people doubted would ever come," said Dr. DeSpain during the commencement ceremony. "Many feared Life had held its last graduation."13
For Dr. DeSpain, the June 24 agreement between Life and the CEE is another significant step in the right direction.
"We now have a path. We are now able to focus on the future instead of trying to secure a future."1
- Schafer M. Life U., CCE reach agreement regarding school's accreditation. Marietta Daily Journal Online, June 25, 2003.
- Posted on the Life University Web site, June 24, 2003. www.life.edu/new_president/IMMEDIATE_PRESS_RELEASE.html.
- Life University's accreditation denied. Will retain accreditation through appeals process. Dynamic Chiropractic, July 15, 2002. www.chiroweb.com/archives/20/15/09.html.
- Life's appeal rejected. CCE upholds revocation of Life's accreditation; students take action - lawsuits filed against university. Dynamic Chiropractic, Nov. 18, 2002. www.chiroweb.com/archives/20/24/09.html.
- Life may face class-action suit. Dynamic Chiropractic, Dec. 16, 2002. www.chiroweb.com/archives/20/26/11.html.
- Judge grants class-action status to Life students' lawsuit. Number of students suing school could swell to 2,000. Dynamic Chiropractic, April 7, 2003. www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/08/10.html.
- Sid Williams sues Life. $1.2 million B.J. Palmer Home at center of controversy. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 10, 2003. www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/06/16.html.
- Life files suit against CCE. Judge refrains from granting injunction until at least February. Dynamic Chiropractic, Feb. 10, 2003. www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/04/11.html.
- Life gets preliminary injunction: judge retroactively re-establishes university's CCE accreditation. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 10, 2003. www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/06/09.html.
- CCE to seek stay of preliminary injunction. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 24, 2003. www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/07/04.html.
- MacDonald M, Ahmed S. Deal lets Life retain accreditation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 25, 2003.
- Brett J. Life students turn their tassels. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 16, 2003.