Our Next Six New Naturopathic Programs … and What the Chiropractors Taught Us (Part 2)

 In Education

David Schleich, PhD

Last month’s discussion about chiropractors’ efforts to situate their educational preparation programs in the higher education landscape to achieve professional legitimacy left off around 1960. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) had talked with York University and the University of Toronto. York University put off CMCC for at least five years, yet in reality the overall timeframe for this group to integrate itself into the higher education realm was to be much longer than that.

 On Aug. 24, 1963 the Chiropractic Faculty Committee (CFC) of the Alberta Chiropractic Association (ACA) proposed to the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta (Edmonton) the establishment of a faculty of chiropractic in the Calgary campus of the University. The Alberta effort was initiated by Alan J. MacFarlane, DC, but had not been reviewed by the national body, the Canadian Chiropractic Association. A “blizzard of correspondence between [sic] the ACA, CCA and CMCC” ensued (p. 34). Notwithstanding the internal controversy within the chiropractic community, the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta rejected the proposal in late October (Letter from WH Johns, president of the University of Alberta, to the ACA, Oct. 1963).

Brown reports that the ACA then petitioned the Alberta government, urging that “equal opportunity for a university education should be extended to prospective chiropractic students on the same basis as those now provided for prospective students of other recognized professions” (p. 34). The debate about where and how to affiliate with a university became part of the agenda of the March 1964 AGM of the National Board of the Chiropractic Association. Discussion emerged about the need for two chiropractic colleges, one in the east and one in the west. Eventually, a new, revised, more complete proposal, now endorsed by all the players in the chiropractic world in Canada (CCA, CMCC, ACA), was delivered to the University of Alberta for its Calgary campus. It, too, was rejected.

In 1966 the chiropractors approached Brandon College in Manitoba (later to become Brandon University). Actually, Brown reports, the Manitoba Chiropractic Association had been contemplating a university program from as early as 1955. Because of financial pressures in Toronto at CMCC related to its then Bloor St. property, the financial support necessary for a Brandon faculty was not forthcoming. Despite at least two trips by Homewood to confer in person with John Robbins, president of Brandon College, and the proposed appointment of Homewood to be dean at a possible faculty in Brandon, the university affiliation efforts were “at a standstill” by the end of 1967. A 1968 CCA document described the collapse of the negotiations, explaining that “complete changes in the University grants setup, creation of two new universities, change of Premier, and a complete cabinet change have held up any concrete works” (CCA, Brandon University Report, 1968). Despite this disappointment, however, the chiropractors did not abandon their intention to affiliate with a university.

Meanwhile, back in Ontario, various communications and faculty exchanges were occurring with York University. For example, Brown (1992) reports that H. Schiff, chair of the department of chemistry at York, acknowledged that the university would “not only provide guest lecturers, but would also be willing to review CMCC’s physical science course and bring it into line with modern methods of teaching science” (p. 41). However, despite a 1971 letter sent by Frederick L. Clubine, president of the CMCC Board of Directors to David W. Slater, president of York asking for a meeting to discuss affiliation, not much happened until February 1977 when the presidents of the two institutions met to discuss the possibilities of affiliation. Indeed, on January 30, 1979 York proposed a two-year pre-chiropractic course. By May 1980, a revised proposal was sent to CMCC by York that further expanded the affiliation.

However, by April 1985, after York had conveyed to the assistant deputy minister of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities its intention to “cooperate with CMCC” (Brown, 1994, p. 42), the Ministry’s reaction was “negative.” By April 1988 the original affiliation ideas had reverted to CMCC’s merely locating a new facility at York, and not academically affiliating at all.

In rapid succession across these three decades, negotiations occurred with a plethora of Canadian universities. After the rejection in Alberta came Notre Dame University in Nelson, B.C. The difference this time, however, was the newly public institution approached Homewood and the chiropractors, rather than the other way around. Even so, Homewood concluded that Notre Dame did not have the capacity to provide the necessary basic sciences courses up to a BSc level. As well, the arrangement would have necessitated students completing a two-year program at CMCC in Toronto after their basic sciences training in B.C. After June 12, 1968 there is no further documentation about this initiative.

Searching for Alliances

In 1967, CMCC, the Ontario regulatory board for chiropractic and the Ontario Chiropractic Association all supported university affiliation and government financial support. A 1967 brief to the Committee on the Healing Arts, a government body examining the wide variety of modalities, healers and health practitioners in the province, included a call for CMCC to “be assisted in affiliating with, or becoming a faculty of, an Ontario university, and that it be given degree-granting authority” (Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 1967, p. 33).

Brown (1992, 1994, 1996) has documented thoroughly how CMCC continued to communicate actively with Canadian Universities, citing letters, reports and meetings between CMCC and universities across Canada. Sometimes these efforts were simultaneous and, on occasion, as with the University of Victoria, they were intensely focused and expensive. All in all, CMCC negotiated at one point or another with the University of British Columbia (1971), Simon Fraser University (1987), the University of Victoria (1988, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92), the University of Guelph (1965, ’66), the University of Waterloo (1969, ’72, ’75, ’84), Waterloo Lutheran University (1969, ’80), Queen’s University (1971, ’84), Ryerson (1971), the University of Toronto (1972, ’76, ’84), McMaster University (1973, ’80, ’81, ’84), Trent University (1976), Brock University (1976, ’77, ’85), University of Ottawa (1984) and the University of Western Ontario (1984). There is reference in documents about negotiations with the University of Windsor, but no details are available other than that the communications occurred in the 1980s.

Throughout this period, the Ministry iterated a 1974 recommendation of the Committee on University Affairs “that provincial support be conditional on full integration of chiropractic education with a university that has a major role in health sciences education” (Brown, 1996, p. 45). Further, Bette Stephenson, the minister of Colleges and Universities, “made it clear that any new health science program must be proposed by the University” (letter, Oct.15, 1981, I. Coulter to Dr. Mustard of MCU). The CMCC Task Force on University Affiliation (struck in March 1976) endured until Nov. 22, 1977. Ian Coulter’s “CMCC Planning Initiatives 1983-1984” created a new organizational approach that would “make the structure of CMCC compatible with those of Canadian universities” (Brown, 1996, p. 51). Even by the time of the passing of the Nov. 25, 1991 New Health Disciplines Act, CMCC had not found a university partner.

CMCC even discussed internally and with the Ministry the option of establishing a private university. In July 1986 the president of CMCC provided the Ontario Council on University Affairs with a report concluding that “the universities have no grounds for opposing degree granting powers and funding to private institutions” (Coulter, pp. 14-15). CMCC’s quest to join the higher education community did not bode well for its new cousin, CCNM, whose own aspirations to the higher education world were strengthening in the 1980s and 1990s, just as CMCC’s similar goals had come into focus in the 1970s.

In terms of private colleges, York University, for example, ultimately rejected the CMCC, and CMCC had no formal recourse. Further, there appears to have been in the process virtually no incentive for universities to embrace new affiliates. As well, there was no model or template available to incorporate or plan for the incremental costs explicit in such relationships, particularly for the affiliating university. Even so, CMCC eventually achieved degree-granting status by another route, based on new legislation empowering non-public sector institutions to grant degrees through a new government agency called the Post-Secondary Education Quality Assessment Board.

CMCC’s long struggle within the then-existing, post-secondary education laws in the province of Ontario ended favorably, but not via a university affiliation route. What is much more likely in the U.S. is that new programs will be initiated from within existing post-secondary institutions such as state universities or private universities (such as NUHS and BU) because of the significantly different structure of post-secondary education in the U.S., a framework where medical degrees are considered doctorates, unlike the British and Canadian systems, which consider first professional degrees to be undergraduate in nature. In any case, as a new cluster of naturopathic medical programs unfolds in America, organizations such as the AANMC will become quite transformed, as will the momentum of growth in applicant pools and an expanding role for the CNME. The future is friendly, and busy. And that future lives in America’s existing private and public post-secondary institutions.

David_Schleich_Headshot-248x300David Schleich, PhD is president and CEO of NCNM, former president of Truestar Health, and former CEO and president of CCNM, where he served from 1996 to 2003. Other previous posts have included appointments as vice president academic of Niagara College, and administrative and teaching positions at St. Lawrence College, Swinburne University (Australia) and the University of Alberta. His academic credentials have been earned from the University of Western Ontario (BA), the University of Alberta (MA), Queen’s University (BEd) and the University of Toronto (PhD).


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