Vickie Anne Palmer has
built on the heritage of her
family by providing leadership
to the chiropractic
mission they began. She
assumed the chairmanship
of the Board of Trustees of
Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1987. In February 2008,
she concluded her 21-year tenure as chairman, and now
serves on the Board as an officer and member of the executive
committee. As Board chairman, she was instrumental in
developing the concept of Palmer’s current multi-campus
system. Her skills in business and in leadership have been a
major factor in moving the College and chiropractic forward
over the years. Her tireless and strong dedication to what her
great-grandfather, D.D. Palmer, started, her grandfather B.J.
developed, and her father Dr. David Palmer refined, is evident
in everything she does.
What is your vision of the three campuses of
Palmer College in 25 years?
I expect Palmer College of Chiropractic to be at the forefront
of our profession. It will be as strong or stronger in 25 years.
It also will be determined by the time we will be living in. As
past chairman, I’ve worked with the Board of Trustees and we
are dedicated to the Palmer Mission and Tenets. We have a
diverse Trustee group and we will face “head on” the challenges
that lie ahead.
What issues in the chiropractic profession do
you believe present the most concerns?
I would change the word “concerns” to “opportunities.” I’ll
address one issue that is emerging. Doctors of chiropractic
will have the opportunity to obtain hospital privileges. By
that I mean, chiropractors would be permitted to adjust their
patients while in the hospital and to work side by side with
the medical doctors for the benefit of the patient. This opportunity
certainly needs development and implementation.
What strengths do you bring to the Board?
I’ve often been asked to talk about my favorite memories of
my time at Palmer and why I love Palmer College. It is all
intertwined: my memories, my strengths and my love of
The strengths I bring include a sense of heritage my parents
gave me; the experience of growing up fully immersed in the
inner workings of the College; understanding the politics of
the profession; and most importantly, keeping the best aspects
of Palmer’s past while preparing for its future. They all come
from how I was raised by my parents.
A 1950s-era photo of the
Palmer family. From left,
Bonnie, Dave, Vickie,
Agnes and Jenny.
My childhood, as well as that of my sisters, was filled with loving
parents who were interested in every aspect of our education and
experiences—some good, some bad. I’ll start with B.J.’s death in
1961 when I was eight years old and my father, Dr. Dave,
became President of Palmer School of Chiropractic. Building
upon B.J.’s focus on the atlas vertebrae, affectionately referred to
as “the hole in one,” Dr. Dave began viewing the patient as a
whole person and adjusting the full spine. His emphasis was on
building the educational curriculum, the faculty, administration
and a new department under the President’s Office, forming an
alumni department, enlarging the campus with the purchase of
West Hall and other buildings along the back alley. These buildings
housed much-needed classrooms and faculty offices and
our first theater for graduations. He improved our image both
in our community and in the profession. Accreditation was
ever important to my father, not only from the Council of
Chiropractic Education, but because he wanted Palmer to be the
first chiropractic college to receive the regional accreditation,
which for Davenport was North Central Association of Colleges
and Schools (NCA). This was so important because other types
of colleges had regional accreditation, and it was a standard that
our peers understood. He sought this in his term and Palmer
received NCA accreditation just weeks after his death.
I share this about my father because he did so much in a quiet,
yet steady, pace and because he was such an integral part of my
life then and now. I loved listening to the many conversations
that took place. My father developed a cabinet of people who
talked and strategized on how best to attain the challenges and
goals that would transform Palmer School of Chiropractic to
Palmer College of Chiropractic and beyond. I listened to those
conversations, and they were spirited at times but always with
a positive, respectful, and energetic enthusiasm. So my journey
of love for the College began.
As I grew older, I shared my Dad’s desire to know as much as I
could about the College in its entirety. I asked for jobs after
school and on summer breaks and started in the Cafeteria.
From there, I held a variety of other jobs including switchboard
After college, I worked in the banking industry, which gave me
insights into financial affairs and also the business world.
Returning to Palmer College, I worked in several departments
including Student Affairs and the Alumni Department.
In the Alumni Department, I worked on Homecoming events.
Let me tell you, you gain a lot of appreciation for the work
those people do in coordinating that very special time when
“the family” comes home to learn and celebrate as one. This
gave me a little experience in public relations. The job I held
the longest was in the Library, where I worked as an assistant
librarian. The Library doubled its size and resources to meet the
accreditation standards. It was located where the Campus
Health Center is now, across the street from the new Academic
Health Center. There I met the student doctors and faculty
clinicians and listened to a lot of topics being discussed.
I knew everyone by their first name, from the janitorial staff to
the President’s Office. I thank my parents, but especially my
father, because he taught me the importance of people skills
through his example. I learned how important Palmer College of
Chiropractic is and why it should be the “beacon” for the profession.
His epigram is truly what we are about: “Palmer is to chiropractic
what sterling is to silver.” I learned that chiropractic is a
distinct philosophy, science and art, and should stand alongside
the medical profession. I learned tolerance to a certain point,
since the profession has had some contentious issues at times. I
learned graciousness, because not all were victories. The people
I’ve worked with were colleagues as well as friends.
In the future, I would like to share the experience my sisters
and I had growing up as the fourth generation of Palmers associated
with the College. I would also like to share my father’s
boyhood and adult life, and his other business venture as a
Today I have a real sense of appreciation and understanding of
all who work with the same goals as the Board of Trustees.
Under the leadership of our new Board chairman, Dr. Trevor
Ireland, I’m excited for what lies ahead.