Oberstein Appointed as Interim President of Life Chiropractic College West Amid Abrupt Departure by Brian Kelly
According to a press release from Life Chiropractic College West, Ron Oberstein DC has been appointed to serve as the interim President following the abrupt departure of Brian Kelly DC last week. According to sources, Kelly left abruptly after being told his contract was not going to be renewed at the end of this year. Faculty and students were left wondering what had happened.
It seems the school had already been looking for a new President even prior to this series of events. According to a job posting in the Chronicle of Higher Education posted earlier this year, Life West had already been looking for a new President. The school had been under the leadership of Dr. Brian Kelly since Gerry Clum DC stepped down several years ago amid enrollment and financial struggles. At one point Kelly was struggling to raise the needed funds just to keep the school open.
Since then enrollment at Life West has improved and the institution has embarked on a bold initiative to gain regional accreditation through WASC Senior College and University Commission. According to WASC Life West is a “Candidate” for accreditation status as of June 19, 2015. The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid.
Life West is the only chiropractic college in the United States that does not hold accreditation through a regional accreditor and instead is accredited only by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE).
The “Candicacy” status with WASC is good thru July 2020 and the school must achieve full recognition by that time. While WASC commended Life West on several areas during its accreditation review WAC also had concerns that Life West would need to address. This issues were related to the following areas:
- Quality Assurance, Institutional Learning and Improvement. WASC is concerned that the institution needs to embrace data-driven decision making and to develop a culture based on evidence and improvement.
- WASC expressed concern regarding diversity at the institution especially in regards to cultural acceptance.
- There is a need to improve course learning outcomes.
- It is necessary to develop resources and mentoring of faculty and student scholarship
There is no doubt that WASC will be watching closely as Life West maneuvers through this time of leadership upheaval. Governance concerns, conflicts of interest and other such issues play a major role in accreditation issues and the chiropractic profession is notorious as a “good ole’ boys club” when it comes to political leadership within the profession and its academic institutions. The days of chiropractic college presidents with no educational background other than on the job experience running our educational institutions are limited.
While being a chiropractor helps to “get butts in seats” during a severely strained market for chiropractic students, it does not transfer over easily to running an educational institution. This seems to be reflected in the concerns identified by WASC.
According to the Life West press release Oberstein is a “nationally recognized chiropractor” and had been serving as the Chair of its Board of Regents. The college also announced that a presidential search process was underway, and that the Board of Regents had elected members Jimmy Nanda, DC, to succeed Dr. Oberstein as Chair, and Kristen Giles, DC, to serve as Vice Chair.