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Q & A

with Vickie Palmer

Insights asked Palmer Trustee Vickie Palmer to talk about the past, present and future of the College and chiropractic
Vickie Palmer

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 Palmer College.

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.
family portrait of Vickie

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 operator.

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 broadcast pioneer.

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.

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