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Palmer College of Chiropractic Announces Largest Campaign in 125-Year History

Unveiled during Palmer’s 125th anniversary celebrations, Daring and Driven seeks to raise $25 million to educate the best chiropractors in the world

Quad Cities residents Paul and Donna VanDuyne donate $2.5 million to the campaign

As a student at Palmer College in the mid-1970s, Paul VanDuyne picked up a part-time job at a small engineering company to help pay for tuition. After graduating as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 1978, he stayed on at the firm, using his passions for business and health care and his new degree to break into hospital work. Today, IMEG – based in the Quad Cities – is one of the largest players in the national health care engineering market, and VanDuyne is its president and CEO.

He also remains deeply involved with the institution that brought him to the Quad Cities. VanDuyne and his wife, Donna VanDuyne, D.C. are co-chairs of Palmer College’s $25 million Daring and Driven fundraising campaign. Announced during a special event at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport on Sept. 17, it is the largest campaign in the College’s history.

Drs. Paul and Donna VanDuyne smiling.
Drs. Paul and Donna VanDuyne.

The VanDuynes draw a clear line from the education they received at Palmer to their success today. It’s where Paul and Donna met, where Donna spent 15 years as a beloved technique instructor and faculty member, and where their youngest son, Joey, is now studying chiropractic himself. “We asked ourselves, ‘What else in our life has had that big of an impact on who we are and what our family is today?’” said VanDuyne. “Donna and I both want young people coming up to be able to share that same level of success we’ve had. We want to pay it forward.”

The VanDuynes are doing just that with a $2.5 million contribution to the campaign, their most significant philanthropic gift ever.

The new student housing complex dedicated during Palmer College’s 125th Anniversary Celebration festivities this weekend bears their name in recognition of their leadership and generosity. “We’re making this financial commitment because we feel we can be impactful, and we feel this is something worth giving to — we see Palmer getting better by the year,” said VanDuyne. “When you see you can make a difference, and you see the success that bears, it’s exciting.”

“Palmer College has a historic and celebrated past, but the best is yet to come,” said Palmer’s Chancellor and CEO Dennis Marchiori, D.C., Ph.D. “We know chiropractic is in a growth mode, and with Palmer’s own growth, we’re setting the pace for the profession. We have a daring vision, and we’re inviting our alumni and friends to come along with us. This campaign must and will be successful.”

Indeed, the campaign has already raised $20.2 million over the last five years, with an impact clear to anyone who has seen the transformation of Palmer’s Main campus on the top of Brady Street Hill in Davenport. New facilities include the Trevor V. Ireland Student Clinic, the Bruce & Bethel Hagen Student Union, the David D. Palmer Learning Commons, the Experiential Learning Center*, and Paul & Donna VanDuyne Hall. A fourth academic building on Palmer’s campus in Port Orange, Florida, was also recently completed to meet growing enrollment demands on that campus.

“But Daring and Driven isn’t just about bricks and mortar,” explained Dr. Marchiori. “That’s a big piece of it — and sometimes that’s the showcase because you can see it. This is a comprehensive campaign spanning everything that goes into our students’ learning experience and their success well beyond these walls, investments we’re able to make thanks to annual and endowed gifts alumni and friends make to the College.”

Consider endowment, the College’s critical engine for building permanent financial resources that grow over time, offering stability during periods of uncertainty and positioning Palmer to take advantage of exciting new opportunities that arise. Palmer has the largest donor-funded endowment of any chiropractic college. “A strong, healthy and growing endowment differentiates the institutions that will thrive,” said Barbara Melbourne, J.D., Palmer’s vice chancellor for institutional advancement who is leading the fundraising alongside Dr. Marchiori for the campaign.

For Melbourne, endowment and legacy go hand in hand. “Students come to Palmer with the passion and drive to be a chiropractor. Coupled with the best chiropractic education and perfected hands-on technique, as alumni they go out into the world and change lives every day. Endowment is a way to provide opportunities for others to do the same well into the future.”

Scholarships are a case in point — and a key focus of the Daring and Driven campaign. Palmer already awards more scholarships than any other chiropractic college. That support means that anyone, no matter their circumstances, can access the best chiropractic education possible. With other avenues for financial aid generally closed off to graduate students, almost everyone who studies at Palmer has some financial need. Investments in scholarships relieve financial stress, allow students to focus on their classwork and eventually help them launch more swiftly into their careers. Perhaps as important, scholarships show students that the successful Palmer chiropractors who came before them believe in them and are truly invested in their success.

“Gifts to this campaign are an investment in the value of a Palmer degree — but it’s so much more than that,” said Melbourne. “This is about our tremendous, incomparable pride. Our alumni are like none other, and philanthropy is a way for them to participate fully in the life of the College.”

No matter what and how Palmer alumni give, their generosity will set an example for their peers, paving the way for an impact larger than any one person could dream of making alone. The VanDuynes were inspired by the example of Charles Keller, D.C., and his $1 million gift, half of which went toward the Charles & Hildegarde Keller Terrace at the Fountainhead and half of which went toward Dr. Keller’s existing scholarship endowment. “We thought about it,” recalled Paul, “and we said, ‘Why not dig a bit deeper and see what we can do? Let’s not make it easy on ourselves.’”

Witnessing the passion and commitment of Daring and Driven donors, Dr. Marchiori has been touched personally by sentiments like those. “You can’t help but reflect on your own life and ask, ‘How can I make an impact? How can I give to the generations that follow?’” he said. “Look at how these people are living their lives. Look at the code that they live by. Look at how they’re making a difference bigger than themselves. It’s inspirational.”

Just the facts:

  • Campaign goal: $25 million
  • Campaign funds raised to date: $20.2 million
  • Davenport campus enhancements:
    • The Trevor V. Ireland Student Clinic (2019)
    • The Bruce & Bethel Hagen Student Union (2020)
    • The David D. Palmer Learning Commons (2021)
    • The NCMIC Center for Business Development (2021)
    • The Experiential Learning Center (2022)
    • The Charles & Hildegarde Keller Terrace (2022)
    • Paul & Donna VanDuyne Hall (opening fall 2022)
    • Recreation and athletic field (expected 2022)
  • Port Orange, Florida campus enhancements:
    • Fourth academic building (completed in 2022)

*The Experiential Learning Center was dedicated May 31, 2023 as the William J. & Mary A. Kiernan Hall – Anatomy & Technique Center.