National President Stiefel Under Fire & Facing Accreditation Struggles with Two Agencies

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National President Stiefel Under Fire & Facing Accreditation Struggles with Two Agencies

Quality of Educational Programs in Question

On June 30, 2016 the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) placed National University of Health Sciences on PUBLIC NOTICE because of concerns related to the quality of their educational programs, their assessment of student learning, and their institutional planning.  According to the HLC they accredit approximately 1,000 colleges and universities that have a home base in one of 19 states that stretch from West Virginia to Arizona. HLC is a private, nonprofit regional accrediting agency.

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Then, as if that wasn't enough to deal with, NUHS' two chiropractic programs were placed on PROBATION by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) on February 2, 2018 and according to the public disclosure from the CCE, the Council took this action “. . . due to noncompliance concerns related to program effectiveness, meta- competency assessment and student performance success rates.”

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The President of National University of Health Sciences is Joseph Stiefel MS, EdD, DC and he was inaugurated as NUHS sixth president on June 22, 2013. According to his bio from NUHS website Stiefel decided on a career in "chiropractic medicine" after learning that "the profession embraced primary care" and he could get training in diagnostic imaging.

He was vice president of his class and editor of the school's yearbook. He also won the Joseph Janse Award for excellence at his graduation.

Stiefel completed a three-year residency in diagnostic imaging, and was NUHS' first graduate of the master of science degree program in diagnostic imaging. According to the website:

"Several administrators noticed Dr. Stiefel's managerial talents, and President James F. Winterstein offered him a position as assistant to the vice presidents. One of Dr. Stiefel's first tasks was to evaluate all existing university policies and make recommendations for necessary changes."

Stiefel states on the site: "Educational law was always an interest of mine. There are very interesting scenarios that come up when you talk about the law and students. In fact, many landmark cases in this area come out of professional degree schools."

That interest in law may be getting more attention than he wanted since he is now suing the Council on Chiropractic Education.

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When NUHS opened a DC program in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2008 they asked Dr. Stiefel to lead the new campus as dean of the College of Professional Studies. Stiefel completed an Ed.D in higher educational leadership from Argosy University and for his dissertation created an analytical database for assessing applicants to DC programs and predicting their future academic success.

In 2012, the NUHS Board of Trustees announced that Dr. Stiefel was their choice to succeed Dr. James F. Winterstein as president of the institution when he retired.

According to the website "Dr. Stiefel's vision for National University of Health Sciences is to continue the institution's focus on broad-scope primary care practice for its graduates, and to deepen its commitment to integrative medicine.

That dedication to broad scope primary care practice has put Stiefel on a path to clash with the conservative, traditional faction of the profession while making friends with chiropractors, schools and organizations that seek chiropractic scope expansion including drugs.

In a letter dated October 21, 2014 to Rod Lefler DC, President of the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association (WCA), Dr. Joseph Stiefel President of the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) states that NUHS:

“fully supports your efforts to include the use of prescription drugs” in efforts to expand the scope of practice in the State of Wisconsin.

Stiefel asserts the “necessity for the chiropractic profession to shed old, unsupported ideologies and embrace current evidence and current research as the foundation for professional progress.”

Stiefel has taken issue with the argument that the majority of chiropractors are opposed to the inclusion of drugs in chiropractic.

Dr. Stiefler boasts in the opening to his letter that he is “President of one of the oldest and most established educational institutions offering the Doctor of Chiropractic Educational program”. In recent years however, NUHS has attempted to change the name of their program to “Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine”.

NUHS has even gone so far to suggest they would bypass the Council on Chiropractic Education to confer a post DC Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine degree.

NUHS responded to professional concerns regarding United States Department of Education oversight of a “Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine” degree by asserting that CCE accredits its program and not the degree.

NUHS went so far as to query the regulatory boards in each state to determine which states would allow the use of the DCM degree by its graduates. According to NUHS, the majority of states would not have a problem with the DCM degree.

Despite NUHS assertions that it is one of the oldest and most established chiropractic programs, according to IPEDS data from 2010 through 2013 their chiropractic program had seen a steady decline in enrollment.

Whatever stabilization may have happened during the intervening years is sure to be challenged as the institution battles accreditation woes on two major fronts with a relatively inexperienced President at the helm.

SEE BELOW for more on National's Accreditation Struggles

National Loses Appeal Regarding Accreditation Probation

National Files Lawsuit Against CCE for Placing School on Probation

National President Stiefel Under Fire & Facing Accreditation Struggles with Two Agencies

National Accreditation Placed on NOTICE by Higher Learning Commission

National President Stiefel's Legal Declaration Paints Grim Picture for School Mired in Accreditation Struggle


CCE Public Disclosure

Higher Learning Commission Public Disclosure

Higher Learning Commission Action Letter

Denial of Temporary Restraining Order & Seal

National v. CCE Legal Complaint

Request to Seal Lawsuit

Request for Temporary Restraining Order

Declaration of Stiefel and all Exhibits

Request for Injunctive Relief

Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Memorandum in Support

McCoy Press