Ellen Kennaugh, right, estate executor
for the late Dr. Flavia Van Dyke,
presented the Dr. Flavia J. Van Dyke
Endowed Recruitment Scholarship
to student Cherity Smythe during a
special awards reception at the 2010
West Campus Homecoming.
When Dr. Flavia Van Dyke graduated
from the Davenport Campus as a second-
generation chiropractor in 1947,
she looked forward to a career utilizing
her skilled hands. However, practicing
chiropractic at that time in her home
state of Washington was more than
challenging in large part due to the
medical community’s lack of acceptance
of chiropractic, which translated into
poor public opinion and low utilization.
As a result, Dr. Van Dyke would use her
hands not only to adjust others but to
supplement her home-based practice by
teaching piano. She gave her last lesson
at age 95, and even wrote a song,
Although Dr. Van Dyke loved teaching
piano, chiropractic was her greatest passion.
Plus, her perseverance and pioneering
spirit earned her an honorary
lifetime chiropractic license by the
Washington State Chiropractic Association
in 1995. Then, prior to her passing
in 2006, she requested the establishment
of an endowment that would
assist women pursuing their D.C.
degree at Palmer’s West Campus.
At the 2010 Homecoming, the first
recipient of a scholarship from Dr. Van
Dyke’s endowment was Cherity
Smythe, who, like Dr. Van Dyke, hails
“I am thankful to have received this
award, and it has motivated me to
apply myself, and work as hard as I
can in school,” says Ms. Smythe, who
selected Palmer’s West Campus after
visiting four other chiropractic colleges
and finding West Campus staff and
students the most friendly and helpful.
“I read about Dr. Van Dyke, and the
struggles she went through, and how
she was a pioneer—in my home state,
for that matter. She was an amazing
woman and worked very hard,” adds
Ms. Smythe, who hopes to practice in
Seattle when she graduates.
Dr. Van Dyke demonstrated “Palmer
Spirit” in more than just the song that
she wrote. She didn’t let the laws of
the time keep her from practicing chiropractic,
and she held chauvinistic
social laws in even greater contempt.
In fact, one of the preprinted certificates
in her office referred to “his”
practice, which Dr. Van Dyke crossed
out and wrote “her.”
Says Ellen Kennaugh, executor of Dr.
Van Dyke’s estate, “Flavia was aware of
the distinct challenges in pursuing a
career in a male-dominated profession,
and she was very interested in encouraging
other women to fulfill their desire
to enter the chiropractic field. As a
woman with something of a pioneering
spirit herself, we are confident that she
would have been pleased to help Palmer
expand opportunities in this way.”
Dr. Van Dyke’s career achievements
stand as a source of inspiration
and motivation on their own merit.
And perhaps future recipients of
the scholarships awarded from her
endowment will be inspired to
honor the legacy of this chiropractic
pioneer by establishing a similar
“Dr. Van Dyke’s personal story is as
impactful as her endowed gift,” says
Senior Development Officer Shelley
Hammill. “And as we see in Ms.
Smythe, both will pass on the values of
service to others and the determination
so clearly held by Dr. Van Dyke.”
To learn about creating an endowed
scholarship in your name, leaving a
legacy, or making a contribution,
contact Shelley Hammill at (563)
884-5609 or at shelley.hammill@
palmer.edu. Or you may contact the
Advancement Office at (563) 884-5453
or (800) 722-2586.