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At 125, Palmer College Remains a Central Quad Cities Institution

September 6, 2022

As it celebrates its 125th anniversary, Palmer also celebrates its close ties to the local community

On September 18, 1895, D.D. Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment and changed the course of history. His patient—Harvey Lillard, custodian of the Ryan Building in downtown Davenport, where Palmer had an office—returned the following day to express his gratitude for the relief he felt. Two years later, Palmer established the Palmer School and Cure just up the hill on Brady Street to share the chiropractic techniques that had transformed Lillard’s life with students who could go out and do the same for patients near and far.

The first, and still the largest chiropractic college, Palmer College of Chiropractic has grown over the 125 years since then into a premier educational institution, with a $75 million annual budget, additional campuses in Florida and California, and 31,000 living alumni, who represent about one-third of all Doctors of Chiropractic in the profession. A constant amid that dramatic growth is Palmer’s bond to the community in which it was founded.

On September 15-17, Palmer alumni from around the world will converge on the Quad Cities to celebrate the College’s 125th anniversary.

“The Quad Cities is forever linked to chiropractic, and chiropractic forever linked to the Quad Cities,” said Dennis Marchiori, D.C., Ph.D., Palmer’s chancellor and CEO. “We can’t celebrate Palmer’s 125th without also celebrating the College’s connection to this community. Palmer students and alumni are known for their ‘Palmer pride.’ I think our Quad Cities community has a right — and every reason — to feel proud in sharing in Palmer’s history, growth and future, too.”

“Not only has Palmer grown alongside our region — the College has helped drive our region’s growth,” said Kent Pilcher, president of Estes Construction and a member of the Palmer Board of Trustees. “As our community continues to pursue ambitious goals to be a more prosperous, connected, cool and creative place to visit or call home, Palmer adds to the diversity of our community and will be part of how we get there.”

Drawing accomplished and driven students from all over the country and across the world, Palmer helps put the Quad Cities on the global map. When they come, those students stay for at least three and one-third years, the length of the College’s Doctor of Chiropractic program. During that time, Palmer students not only take part in the life of the community, but they also contribute to it economically. In the Quad Cities, Palmer students spend roughly $20 million each year on living and related expenses, not including tuition, while the College’s payroll and purchasing expenditures total more than $42 million. Beyond its role in the local economy, Palmer runs a range of community-service projects and, through its clinics, delivers approximately 60,000 patient visits annually.

“After our students graduate, many of them don’t want to leave the Quad Cities region,” said Dr. Marchiori. “If they do leave, they spread the word not just about Palmer but about this region wherever they go.”

Today, Palmer is attracting the attention of more prospective students than ever before. The College’s $80 million in campus investments over the past decade have both preserved the campus’s historic character and created one of the country’s most sophisticated chiropractic learning environments. Palmer has cultivated collaborations with top universities like Harvard and Yale and placed students in competitive rotations and residencies with the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Since 2000, it has brought in $35 million in research grants, making Davenport a center of academic advancement and health care innovation.

“As a result of these strides forward and a series of high-profile campus enhancements over the last five years, applicant volume has steadily increased, with attendance at campus tours, open houses, and recruiting events at capacity,” says Michael Norris, Palmer College Vice Chancellor for Admissions. “Right now, Palmer is trending to enroll its largest fall class in more than 10 years to our Quad Cities campus.”

To meet its ambitious goals for continuing to grow enrollment, Palmer competes with some of the same communities that the Quad Cities region competes with, from St. Louis and Chicago to Minneapolis, Kansas City and Atlanta to attract students to its main campus in Davenport. That means the College and the Quad Cities have a shared goal of showing off all that our communities have to offer as fabulous places to live, work, study and play.

And as more and more students make Palmer their chiropractic college of choice, Dr. Marchiori hopes the Quad Cities community will continue to play a strong role in Palmer student success.

“Our students have finished undergraduate college experiences and are usually in their mid-twenties. They and the families they bring with them need places to recreate and socialize, they have to have support groups, schools and churches. They have to be connected to the community,” said Dr. Marchiori. “As part of our students’ education, Palmer promotes getting deeply involved in the community — not just by interning at the clinics but also through club activities with the Bix, social organizations, recreation such as the River Bandits and more. And our Quad Cities community has done a fantastic job of welcoming our students and supporting them through their transformation at Palmer for the past 125 years.”

Quad Cities Celebrates with Palmer College of Chiropractic

More than 1,000 alumni from around the world will converge on the Quad Cities to celebrate the College’s 125th anniversary on September 15-17. During that time, the new I-74 bridge will be lit Palmer Purple, and the cities of Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline and Rock Island will proclaim September 18, 2022 Palmer College of Chiropractic Day.

Just the facts:

  • Founded in 1897 by D.D. Palmer in Davenport, Iowa
  • Largest of 18 U.S. chiropractic programs
  • Nonprofit since 1965
  • $75 million annual budget
  • 419 employees, approximately 2,100 students across all of Palmer College’s campuses
  • 44 international and 800 non-QCA students at Davenport campus
  • 31,000 living alumni (1/3 of all practicing Doctors of Chiropractic)
  • $42 million spent in payroll and purchasing annually at Palmer’s Main Campus
  • $20 million spent by students (not including tuition) annually in the Quad Cities region
  • $35 million in research grants received since 2000
  • $6 million in free care for military members across campuses since 2008