University of Western States

By Janet Tapper

The University of Western States has been a fixture of the Oregon healthcare community since 1904. The college began at the turn of the twentieth century when several chiropractic schools merged, including a Portland school opened by D. D. Palmer, the creator of the chiropractic method of healing.

In the 1930s, under the auspices of college director and president W.A. Budden, the campus took on the name Western States School of Chiropractic and Naturopathy. In 1954, the college separated the chiropractic and the naturopathic curricula and became Western States Chiropractic College.

Western States faculty and alumni have been influential in legitimizing and promoting the practice of chiropractic, including the 1915 passage of legislation licensing chiropractor physicians in Oregon, the establishment of a four-year educational requirement for licensure, the 1927 expansion of the chiropractic scope of practice that defines what chiropractic physicians can do and what they can treat (the broadest in the nation), and the formation of the Oregon Chiropractic Association. 

In 1984, Western States faculty became the first researchers from a chiropractic college to present a paper at the International Society for the Study of Lumbar Spine. The Low Back Study, conducted in 1992 by the school's research department, broke ground by defining norms for practice-based research. In 2004, Western States was the first college to receive a grant from the National Institutes of Health for the advancement of evidence-based complementary and alternative curriculum. 

In the fall of 2009, the campus achieved university status and changed its name to the University of Western States (UWS). Still the only chiropractic college in the Northwest, the university has expanded its academic program to include a Masters in Sports and Exercise Science, a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, and a Doctorate of Education in Sport and Performance Psychology, Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization (EdD-SPP, CHHC). UWS is a nonprofit institution that is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Council on Chiropractic Education. UWS is located at 8000 NE Tillamook Street in Portland.

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Further Reading

Homewood, A.E. 75 Years of Tenacity, Challenge and Progress: A History of Western States Chiropractic College. Toronto, Ont.: A. E. Homewood, 1982.

Keating, J. "Early chiropractic education in Oregon." Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association  46:1 (2002), 39-60.

Ritter, J. C. "The Roots of Western States Chiropractic College, 1904-1932." Chiropractic History 11: 2 (Dec. 1991), 19-23.