Palmer College of Chiropractic has received 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. the school announced Wednesday. Dr. Kiernan graduated from Palmer in 1951.

Palmer College Chancellor and CEO Dennis Marchiori speaks at Wednesday’s announcement, May 31, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“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. “This significant gift advances our vision to create a student learning experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.”

Dr. William Kiernan, Palmer class of 1951, and his wife Mary.

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. The investment was $9.5 million and the building is 51,343 square feet.

Dr. Kiernan stands in front of the renovated building in Davenport named in his honor (courtesy of Palmer College).

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 college said.

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. 

One of the new learning labs in the three-story building (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Dr. Kiernan, now 94, from Atkinson, N.H., knew at the age of 10 that he wanted to become a Doctor of Chiropractic and he wanted to go to Palmer, the Wednesday release said. He did just that, traveling farther away from home than any of his friends as a young man. Throughout his career as a chiropractor, 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. 

William Kiernan, now 94, with Marchiori during Wednesday’s ceremony (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“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. 

The exterior of the newly-renamed William J. & Mary A. Kiernan Hall – Anatomy & Technique Center (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Leaving a legacy

“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, vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

The building renovation is another physical representation of Palmer’s commitment to student success, in preparing the best chiropractors in the world, Marchiori said.

“Dr. Kiernan, you have turned your passion for hands-on training, hands-on learning for chiropractic practice, for Palmer College and the profession of chiropractic into direct action,” the chancellor/CEO said. You have helped create a fantastic space for our students to learn.”

“Thank you for all you have accomplished – as a celebrated Palmer alumnus and a close friend of Palmer College,” Marchiori said.

“With the new scientific advancements that are coming on, that will evaluate the various structures of the human body, that this will show chiropractic is a real science and art,” Kiernan said Wednesday.

Preparing to cut the ribbon Wednesday are Dennis Marchiori, left, Bill Kiernan, Barbara Melbourne, and Donna Craft, D.C., a Palmer alum and chair of the board’s advancement committee (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“I urge the students now here, to pay attention to their instructors, learn all the techniques you can learn and develop that science and create in your mind the art and science that you’re going to stand up before your patients and give them an adjustment,” he said.

A video interview with Kiernan showed him reading a thank-you card from a Palmer student, Emily Keller, who was at Wednesday’s announcement.

“Thank you so much for your generous donation to Palmer College. It gives me encouragement to know donors like you are about the future of chiropractic,” the card said. “I hope one day to follow in your footsteps.”

Current Palmer student Emily Keller meets Dr. Kiernan on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“That’s one of the legacies,” Kiernan said of that card and seeing patients benefit.

He was last on campus in 2019 to be inducted into the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic. Since then, Palmer has opened its David D. Palmer Learning Commons and VanDuyne Student Housing.

The $25-million fundraising campaign supports three pillars: student success, learning innovation and students’ experience on the three Palmer campuses, Machiori said.

“Dr. Kiernan has a long history of being a difference maker for chiropractic – whether it be in the state of Massachusetts, before practicing chiropractic was even legal, to funding important research here at the college,” said Palmer student Jacob Kwast, an executive board member of the Palmer Student Alumni Association.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured Palmer student Emily Keller, left, Marchiori, Kiernan, Melbourne, Craft and current student Jacob Kwast (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“Dr. Kiernan is the reason we have access to one of the most advanced anatomy technology centers in the profession,” he said. “One of the reasons I chose to come to Palmer College was because of the priority that they put on hands-on learning.”

“I believe these improvements will create more skilled and confident doctors of chiropractic,” Kwast said. “The impact of your donation, Dr. Kiernan, is exponential., Most of us will only see the impact this has on the students here at school.

Palmer’s “Daring and Driven” fundraising campaign has collected $24.8 million of its $25-million goal (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“What many of us forget, including me, is that these students will be treating thousands of patients in the near future,” he said. “This translates to millions of lives that are going to be impacted.”

For more information on Palmer, visit its website HERE.