In time for its 125th anniversary, Davenport-based Palmer College of Chiropractic is in the midst of its largest fundraising campaign to date — collecting $20.2 million so far, out of a $25-million goal.

A big contributor to that was recognized over the weekend as QC leaders Paul VanDuyne and his wife Donna (both Palmer alums) have donated $2.5 million. In their honor, the college is naming a new student housing complex VanDuyne Hall — featuring 115 units with capacity for 139 students, plus study areas, a meditation space, multi-purpose room, lounges and social space.

Paul VanDuyne and his wife Donna cut the ribbon at the new VanDuyne Hall on the Palmer College campus Sept. 17, 2022 (courtesy Palmer College).

“We’re making this financial commitment because we feel we can be impactful, and we feel this is something worth giving to — we see Palmer getting better by the year,” says Paul VanDuyne, D.C., who is a member of Palmer’s Board of Trustees and president & CEO of the engineering firm IMEG. “When you see you can make a difference, and you see the success that bears, it’s exciting.”

As a Palmer student in the mid-’70s, VanDuyne worked part-time at a small engineering company to help pay for tuition. After graduating as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 1978, he stayed on at the firm, using his passions for business and health care and his new degree to break into hospital work, according to a Palmer release.

Paul and Donna VanDuyne are both 1978 Palmer graduates, with Doctor of Chiropractic degrees (photo by Palmer College).

Today, IMEG – based in the Quad Cities – is one of the largest players in the national health care engineering market.

VanDuyne and his wife, Donna VanDuyne, D.C. are co-chairs of Palmer’s $25-million Daring and Driven fundraising campaign, announced during a special event at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport on Sept. 17.

More than 1,000 alumni from around the world came to the QCA Sept. 15-17 to celebrate Palmer College’s 125th anniversary. The I-74 bridge was lit purple in honor of the college, and the cities of Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline and Rock Island proclaimed Sept. 18, 2022 Palmer College of Chiropractic Day.

Finding love and a community passion

Palmer is where Paul and Donna VanDuyne met, where Donna spent 15 years as a beloved technique instructor and faculty member, and where their youngest son, Joey, is now studying chiropractic himself.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What else in our life has had that big of an impact on who we are and what our family is today?’” Paul VanDuyne said in the college release. “Donna and I both want young people coming up to be able to share that same level of success we’ve had. We want to pay it forward.”

Pictured at the new VanDuyne Hall are (from left) Vickie Anne Palmer, Palmer Board of Trustees; Donna VanDuyne, D.C.; Paul VanDuyne, D.C., president and CEO of IMEG Corp., and vice chair of the Palmer Board; Trevor V. Ireland, D.C., chairman of the board, and Dennis Marchiori, D.C., chancellor and CEO of Palmer College (courtesy of Palmer College).

“Palmer College has a historic and celebrated past, but the best is yet to come,” said Palmer’s Chancellor and CEO Dennis Marchiori, D.C., Ph.D. “We know chiropractic is in a growth mode, and with Palmer’s own growth, we’re setting the pace for the profession. We have a daring vision, and we’re inviting our alumni and friends to come along with us. This campaign must and will be successful.”

The fundraising campaign has already raised $20.2 million over the last five years, with an impact clear to anyone who has seen the transformation of Palmer’s main campus on the top of Brady Street Hill in Davenport.

The new housing complex is on the east side of the Palmer campus and is expected to open in late October (courtesy Palmer College).

New facilities include the Trevor V. Ireland Student Clinic, the Bruce & Bethel Hagen Student Union, the David D. Palmer Learning Commons, the Experiential Learning Center, and Paul & Donna VanDuyne Hall. A fourth academic building on Palmer’s campus in Port Orange, Fla., was also recently completed to meet growing enrollment demands on that campus.

Not just about buildings

“But Daring and Driven isn’t just about bricks and mortar,” Dr. Marchiori said. “That’s a big piece of it — and sometimes that’s the showcase because you can see it. This is a comprehensive campaign spanning everything that goes into our students’ learning experience and their success well beyond these walls, investments we’re able to make thanks to annual and endowed gifts alumni and friends make to the College.”

Consider endowment, the College’s critical engine for building permanent financial resources that grow over time, offering stability during periods of uncertainty and positioning Palmer to take advantage of exciting new opportunities that arise, the release said.

Palmer College dedicated the new $10.2-million David D. Palmer Learning Commons in September 2021.

Palmer has the largest donor-funded endowment of any chiropractic college. “A strong, healthy and growing endowment differentiates the institutions that will thrive,” said Barbara Melbourne, J.D., Palmer’s vice chancellor for institutional advancement who is leading the fundraising alongside Dr. Marchiori for the campaign.

For Melbourne, endowment and legacy go hand in hand. “Students come to Palmer with the passion and drive to be a chiropractor. Coupled with the best chiropractic education and perfected hands-on technique, as alumni they go out into the world and change lives every day. Endowment is a way to provide opportunities for others to do the same well into the future.”

Scholarships are key

Scholarships are a case in point — and a key focus of the Daring and Driven campaign. Palmer already awards more scholarships than any other chiropractic college.

Participating in the Sept. 17 dedication were (from left) Dennis Marchiori, chancellor and CEO of Palmer College; Ashley Borunda, Palmer student; Donna and Paul VanDuyne, and Barbara Melbourne, vice chancellor for institutional advancement, Palmer College.

With other avenues for financial aid generally closed off to graduate students, almost everyone who studies at Palmer has some financial need. Investments in scholarships relieve financial stress, allow students to focus on their classwork and eventually help them launch more swiftly into their careers. Perhaps as important, scholarships show students that the successful Palmer chiropractors who came before them believe in them and are truly invested in their success.

“Gifts to this campaign are an investment in the value of a Palmer degree — but it’s so much more than that,” said Melbourne. “This is about our tremendous, incomparable pride. Our alumni are like none other, and philanthropy is a way for them to participate fully in the life of the college.”

Charles Keller, D.C., a 1955 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, in February 2021 committed a $1-million legacy gift to his alma mater to support students.

The VanDuynes were inspired by the example of Charles Keller, D.C., and his $1-million gift, half of which went toward the Charles & Hildegarde Keller Terrace at the Fountainhead and half of which went toward Dr. Keller’s existing scholarship endowment. “We thought about it,” recalled Paul, “and we said, ‘Why not dig a bit deeper and see what we can do? Let’s not make it easy on ourselves.’”

Witnessing the passion and commitment of Daring and Driven donors, Dr. Marchiori has been touched personally by sentiments like those. “You can’t help but reflect on your own life and ask, ‘How can I make an impact? How can I give to the generations that follow?’” he said. “Look at how these people are living their lives. Look at the code that they live by. Look at how they’re making a difference bigger than themselves. It’s inspirational.”

The Palmer campaign has helped fund the following enhancements to the Davenport campus:

  • The Trevor V. Ireland Student Clinic (2019)
  • The Bruce & Bethel Hagen Student Union (2020)
  • The David D. Palmer Learning Commons (2021)
  • The NCMIC Center for Business Development (2021)
  • The Experiential Learning Center (2022)
  • The Charles & Hildegarde Keller Terrace (2022)
  • Paul & Donna VanDuyne Hall (opening fall 2022)
  • Recreation and athletic field (expected 2022)

Among facts about Palmer College:

  • Founded in 1897 by D.D. Palmer in Davenport
  • Largest of 18 U.S. chiropractic programs
  • Nonprofit since 1965
  • $75 million annual budget
  • 419 employees, approximately 2,100 students across all of Palmer College’s campuses
  • 44 international and 800 non-QCA students at Davenport campus

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