Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Opinion: FSU's hands-off approach

January 18, 2005

Opinion: FSU's hands-off approach

The university's Board of Trustees is playing hot potato with the proposed chiropractic school, leaving its fate up to the state Board of Governors.

A Times Editorial
Published January 18, 2005


The chiropractic school that no university sought has become the national spectacle no one wants to touch. But the beleaguered Florida State University Board of Trustees can't hold meddling lawmakers entirely responsible for this mess. The board and FSU president T.K. Wetherell brought some of this on themselves.

Among the more specious arguments the board offered Friday as it ducked a decision on the chiropractic school was that the state Board of Governors and the Legislature had tied the university into a knot. Indeed, the Legislature, following the lead of then-Senate Majority Leader and chiropractor Dennis Jones, did appropriate $9-million last year to create the school. Indeed, the Board of Governors, created to insulate universities from political interference, did then tell FSU that legislative approval would not suffice.

But no one ordered FSU to ignore its own faculty, disregard the implications with national accrediting bodies and proceed to hire a chiropractic school dean without first asking either the state governing board or the people who have invested their educational careers there. For Wetherell to chide faculty opponents for failing to be "open-minded" took some cheek.

The FSU trustees' action was politically calibrated to pass the potato, which is all the more reason for the Board of Governors to end this unseemly game.

The chiropractic school was created in whole cloth by a few lawmakers with a personal agenda, never vetted by the university or its oversight board. It would be the first such school on any public university campus in the nation, and, more important, there is no demonstrated need for it. Florida already has more chiropractors per capita than the national average, according to a new state board report, and is producing roughly 80 more graduates per year than it needs to keep pace with demand.

In a university system that is turning away high school graduates because campuses are overloaded, the money that might be plowed into a chiropractic school is, at best, an unaffordable luxury.

The political irony here is hard to miss. FSU has been run by two former House speakers, president Wetherell and trustees chairman John Thrasher, who have not concealed their dislike for the constitutional powers of the Board of Governors. But now that the chiropractic school has stirred a national debate and a campus uproar over whether the university would be cheapening its academic standards, they are suddenly content, perhaps eager, to let the state board kill it. Rather than provide leadership, they seek deniability.

The board has no option but to oblige them.