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Life University Put on Probation by CCE - President Rob Scott Assures Alumni School Will Not Lose Accreditation

Scott Blames Problems on Students of Diversity & CCE Policies

Life University's President Robert Scott DC, Ph.D has announced that the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has placed LIFE's Doctor of Chiropractic program (DCP) on PROBATION. The sanction of PROBATION follows several years of struggle by the institution to get its Completion Rates under control to meet accreditation requirements.

The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) had met in July 2017 and reviewed several reports related to a February 1, 2017 Interim Site Team Visit and on August 2, 2017, the Doctor of Chiropractic Program at Life University received a written response from the CCE regarding its ongoing concerns related to its graduation rates and evidence for student learning outcomes. The PROBATION sanction reflects ongoing concerns with graduation rates.

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On February 5, 2019, the Council placed the Program on PROBATION and then on February 24, 2019 LIFE appealed the decision. Following an appeal hearing on May 14, 2019, the appeals panel issued a report to the program and the Council Chair on May 20, 2019 upholding the PROBATION sanction and affirming the action of the Council.

The PROBATION sanction comes amidst LIFE recently refinancing its $67,000,000.00 bond obligations in order to build housing for its undergraduate program. Life needs to grow the undergraduate program in order to boost enrollment and show its creditors that it has diversified its sources of income beyond the chiropractic program. Administrators are placing their bets on the hopes of increasing enrollment in the undergrad programs to offset losses from the DC college.

The recent refinancing of the bond debt came with the addition of another $30,000,000.00 in debt to pay for the housing, bringing the total debt to nearly $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars). According to Moody's Investors Service, they had already downgraded the bond rating to Ba3. According to Moody’s, a Ba3 indicates a “substantial credit risk” with this rating indicating the lowest end of the category.

LIFE recently scrapped its plans to open a branch campus in Italy after reportedly spending one million dollars on the project and blaming the CCE, the Italian government and the Italian Medical Association for its failure. It was refused a substantive change request by the CCE to open a branch campus in Hong Kong, and is re-organizing its struggling downtown clinic after investing millions of dollars. All of this, along with its curricular and accreditation challenges, has left many questioning the school's direction, management and oversight.

The following is the full text of Dr. Scott's Letter:

Re: CCE Ruling on LIFE's DCP

Life University Alumni and LIFEforce Doctors:

I am taking the liberty of writing you this letter to notify you of the Council on Chiropractic Education's (CCE) May 20 ruling to place LIFE's Doctor of Chiropractic program (DCP) on probation. This decision will be made public by the CCE later this week. This is an unfortunate and unnecessary occurrence, yet I hope to be the first to let you know and to explain the implications regarding this sanction as it relates to moving forward.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that in the CCE's own words "this does not compromise overall program integrity." The sanction relates to one section of a policy that requires a program completion rate of 70% within 150% of program duration. LIFE's Doctor of Chiropractic Program is proud to be founded on values and principles that have attracted the largest, most diverse student population of any chiropractic college, and nearly half of our students identify as students of diversity. When you consider national "time-to-completion" data for students of diversity, especially first-generation and socio- economically disadvantaged students, this CCE policy directly conflicts with the current state of inequity regarding program completion rates seen nationally.

As it stands today, LIFE has submitted its required Program Characteristic Report (PCR) to the CCE, which indicates that LIFE's DCP is currently compliant with the 70% CCE completion rate policy. We are awaiting the CCE's review of our PCR at their July 2019 biannual meeting at which time we anticipate our probation status being removed; however, it is possible that their decision could be deferred until the Council's January 2020 meeting. Be assured that LIFE's current probation status does not affect the future of our DCP, the quality of our education nor a student's ability to be successful and pass national licensure examinations. LIFE students continue to perform in the top quartile on Part IV National Boards competency examinations. As is unfortunately the case, I am sure that some on social media will be sharing misinformation and suggesting that LIFE will lose its accreditation. This is categorically not the case!

What is important to recognize is that students of diversity enter the DCP meeting the same entrance requirements required of all students at LIFE. In fact, there is very little difference between the average GPAs of our three major ethnic student populations. Our internal data shows this comparison in the table below:

Table 1: Average admitted LUCC students' GPA, by ethnicity.

Admitted GPA

Note: Values reflect terms from Spring 2013 through Summer 2018.

While an initial reaction may be to look to admission requirements, there is little evidence to support it. Life University's DCP already requires a higher standard than many peer institutions in that we specifically require 12 credits of biology and chemistry for the 24-credit-hour Life Sciences requirement. As all of our student populations meet the same admission requirements, and our data suggest a similar trend to national completion rate data for students of diversity, it would appear that our African American and Hispanic students share the same cultural and socioeconomic considerations as their peers nationally. This is a factor that LIFE is specifically addressing to ensure that students are afforded every opportunity to be successful in the program.

LIFE has been working with the CCE to revise this policy away from a "one-size-fits-all" requirement toward best practices as demonstrated by several other national and regional accrediting organizations. Know that we have and will continue to work with student and faculty input to revise internal policy regarding progress to completion, student advising and implementing specific programs for students of diversity - all of which are working as demonstrated by our current PCR.

LIFE is proud to be the most diverse college of chiropractic in the world, being recognized in the U.S. as a top 40 degree granting institution to students of diversity. We are proud to currently be home to 42% of the African American and 31% of the Hispanic student population enrolled in U.S. chiropractic colleges today. LIFE is committed to ensuring that we are compliant with all CCE accreditation standards, and we continue to pave the path for increased diversity in the profession of Chiropractic.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the CCE sanction, or Life University's DCP, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at your convenience.

We appreciate your understanding of the situation.

Robert Scott, D.C., Ph.D.
President, Life University

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