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Palmer College announces $3 million donation – the largest gift from a living alumnus in school’s 126-year history

May 31, 2023

Palmer College of Chiropractic has announced the largest single gift from a living alumnus in school history. The new Experiential Learning Center has been renamed the William J. & Mary A. Kiernan Hall – Anatomy & Technique Center in honor of William Kiernan, D.C. for his $3 million gift to Palmer College. Dr. Kiernan graduated from Palmer College in 1951. 


“Dr. Kiernan embodies the dedication our alumni have to supporting the continued growth and advancement not only of Palmer College and the students and patients we serve, but also of the chiropractic profession,” said Palmer College Chancellor and CEO, Dennis Marchiori, D.C., Ph.D. “This significant gift advances our vision to create a student learning experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.” 


The newly-renovated building opened in March 2022. The new space is part of a period of rapid growth in both capital improvements and student enrollment on Palmer’s Main Campus in Davenport, Iowa. The anatomy and technique courses taught in this space sit at the heart of Palmer’s world-class curriculum—it’s where students learn the hands-on technique fundamental to a successful career as a Doctor of Chiropractic. The new space features five technique labs and four anatomy labs, and allows students to move seamlessly between Palmer’s anatomy classrooms, wet and dry labs, and technique classrooms. 


Dr. Kiernan holding large scissors ready to cut purple ribbon at building dedication.


Dr. Kiernan knew at the age of 10 that he wanted to become a Doctor of Chiropractic and he wanted to go to Palmer College. He did just that, traveling farther away from home than any of his friends as a young man. Throughout his career as a Doctor of Chiropractic, he became recognized as a pioneer in the profession, serving in numerous leadership positions.


It’s that type of commitment to the profession that led Dr. Kiernan to care for patients for nearly 40 years and give generously to his alma mater over the years. For his leadership and service to the profession and to his alma mater, Dr. Kiernan and his late wife, Mary, both were inducted as Fellows in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2019. 


Dr. Kiernan in purple polo with Kiernan Hall in background. “Palmer College is important to me because Palmer College has been my life,” said Dr. Kiernan. “I’ve spent 75 years in chiropractic. I see the evolution and growth of chiropractic and we have to keep that going. The only way to do this is through good educational programs and the development of the student.” 


Dr. and Mrs. Kiernan previously established the Dr. William J. and Mary A. Kiernan Radiology Endowment and the Dr. William J. and Mary A. Kiernan Endowed Scholarship, bringing their total philanthropic investments in Palmer College to $4 million. Their generosity will impact Palmer students for generations to come. 


This $3 million gift moves Palmer one step closer to reaching its goal of raising $25 million through “Daring and Driven,” the largest fundraising campaign ever undertaken by a chiropractic college anywhere in the world. To date, $24.8 million has been raised. 


“Through this gift to Palmer College, Dr. Kiernan will leave a legacy that will impact Palmer students and their future patients for generations to come,” said Barbara Melbourne, J.D., vice chancellor for institutional advancement.