A $1.7 million donation to fund an endowed position for chiropractic research was reportedly shifted from Florida State University to USF earlier this year.
The donors – the Lincoln College Education and Research Fund and the Florida Chiropractic Foundation – originally gave the money to FSU in 1996 to develop a chiropractic chair, with the hope of developing a chiropractic school of medicine. FSU claimed the donation was independent of the promise of a chiropractic school, and simply for an endowed position in biomechanical research.
The donation was accompanied by $9 million of legislative support per year to develop such a school.
According to an article on FSUnews.com, faculty at FSU fought the proposal to develop a chiropractic school, with many doctors on staff threatening to retire after complaining that chiropractic study was not a legitimate science, and felt a chiropractic school would taint the university’s medical program.
In 2001, FSU hired Steve Messier, formerly of Wake Forest University, to fill the Lincoln College chair as a part-time employee working with faculty. The position was operated within the school’s Nutrition & Exercise Science program, and the school’s goal was to merge chiropractic medicine with research, FSU’s former Dean of the College of Human Sciences Penny Ralston said.
According to Ralston, the goal to develop a chiropractic school of medicine was a separate initiative put forth by the chiropractic community and not a direct goal of FSU.
After the school’s proposal to develop the nation’s first chiropractic college caused uproar with faculty, the project was killed by Florida’s higher education oversight board – which deemed the project an unnecessary financial drain, according to an article on FSUnews.com.
Where faculty at FSU feels that chiropractic medicine is not a legitimate science, doctors at USF do not agree.
“Though I’m not sure about the opinions of those at FSU,” Director of Sports Medicine and Athletic Related Sports Medicine Larry Lemak said, “I have no issues with chiropractic research. I am a sports medicine surgeon and have good relations with my chiropractor colleagues. Chiropractors are closely related with athletes and the studies we will be conducting.”
After concluding the university made little progress to promote the endowed chair or the chiropractic school, the chiropractic foundations required FSU to return the donated funds.
Upon the donation’s return, Lincoln College and the Florida Chiropractic Foundation gave the $1.7 million to USF.
The donation will be used to fund a position in “chiropractic biomechanical research,” which USF has been searching to fill the position upon receiving the donation at the beginning of the year, according to an article on chiropub.com. Though USF has no plans on developing a chiropractic school, according to Lemak, The Lincoln College Endowed Chair will be housed in USF’s physical therapy school, and will be focused on the school’s increasing emphasis on sports medicine and physical therapy.
“This chair will be primarily focused on the study of biomechanics,” Lemak said. “Biomechanics, and how it can assist our current programs involving sports medicine.”
And according to Dean of the College of Medicine and Vice President for USF Health Stephen Klasko, peer recognition won’t be a problem for the chairperson.
“(The chairperson) will be a federally funded, D.C., Ph.D. who is a nationally recognized scientist in this field,” Klasko said in an e-mail. “As a leader in biomechanical research, we plan on having a team of individuals who may have different initials but are all federally funded, nationally recognized individuals in the field of biomechanical research.”
The search to fill the position for the Lincoln College Endowed chair continues. USF has advertised the job opening in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as other academic journals.
“Only one person has been interviewed thus far,” Lemak said. “We will fill the position once we find a qualified applicant.” Lemak continued, “We anticipate finding a qualified person soon.”