The idea for Life University was conceived among a group of prominent chiropractors led by Dr. Sid Williams during several retreats in Ormond Beach, Florida. The discussion centered on the need for a principled and vitalistic-based chiropractic college in the Southeast.
In 1975, Life Chiropractic College opened its doors using half of what was, at the time, the Georgia Unemployment Office. Twenty-two students attended the first classes in January 1975. Since that “Day-One class,” the school has grown both in enrollment and physical space, acquiring land and buildings and constructing new facilities. Currently, Life University occupies 110 acres of property on the northwest corner of the intersection of Cobb Parkway (US 41) and South Cobb Drive (US 253) in Marietta, Georgia.
By 1990, under the leadership of the founder/president Dr. Sid Williams, Life College had grown to become the largest chiropractic college in the world. In 1996, Life College expanded its degree offerings to include an undergraduate school and became Life University.
In June 2002, Life University’s accreditation was questioned by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Accreditation by the CCE was temporarily suspended before being restored by a Federal Court injunction. Life University was put on temporary probation by SACS, but returned to normal status soon after the accrediting restoration by CCE. During this time, Dr. Sid Williams resigned as President of Life University.
Michael Schmidt, D.C. was installed as interim President in July 2002. Dr. Schmidt diverted resources from many of the programs and initiatives secondary to academics, such as the athletic program, in order to keep the University solvent. Other cost-cutting measures included workforce reductions, and the sale of off-campus administrative and industrial buildings owned by the University. During the relative uncertainty of this period in LIFE’s history, enrollment dropped significantly.
In January 2003, Benjamin DeSpain, Ph.D. was named President. Prior to his arrival, Dr. DeSpain had developed a reputation in his previous positions in higher education for turning the most challenging situations into opportunities for growth. It was during his tenure that the University’s programmatic accreditation was restored retroactively by the Federal Court.
In March 2004, Guy F. Riekeman, D.C., was installed as President of Life University, a role in which he served for more than 13 years through May 2017 when he was appointed University Chancellor. Dr. Riekeman, former Chancellor of Palmer Chiropractic University, played a key role in restoring Life University’s credibility as an institution of higher learning while serving as president. Within months of his appointment, he raised millions of dollars for capital expenditures and operating costs. Dr. Riekeman also led the University through reaffirmation of accreditation by SACS and CCE. Enrollment began growing again in 2004 and has been increasing consistently ever since. By 2008, Life University once again housed the largest single campus chiropractic college in the world, a distinction it holds to this day.
While under the direction of Dr. Riekeman, LIFE underwent transformational innovation that set a standard of world-class excellence in the physical campus, curriculum design, academic programs and national policy. Dr. Riekeman established “Life U” as a premiere university with an international reputation for service and as a thought leader in the healthcare industry.
Changes included new construction built to Gold-level LEED standards, the “greening” of the campus and modernization of existing buildings. Life University also established chiropractic clinics in places such as China and Costa Rica, while also establishing chiropractic education across the globe through international governing bodies and universities. It has developed the first master’s degree program in positive psychology with an emphasis on secular ethics and more, and affected National Testing Protocols.
Additionally, LIFE is known throughout North America for its sports programs, especially its top-ranked rugby program. LIFE continues to influence policy makers via its forums and summits organized through the Octagon, a global think tank serving to advance dialogue on health care and in the community at-large related to the University’s Eight Core Proficiencies.
In May 2017, Rob Scott, D.C., Ph.D., was named the fifth President of Life University. Dr. Scott came to Life University in 2005 as the Dean of the College of Chiropractic before moving to Vice Provost and executive leadership roles in Academic Affairs. He has also worked as the Dean of Chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University and as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Logan College of Chiropractic. Most recently before his appointment to President, Dr. Scott served as University Provost from October 2022 to May 2017. Dr. Scott brings more than two decades of experience in Academia, Chiropractic and health care to his role as President. His ability to lead and manage LIFE’s educational programs and steer its vision forward will continue to make this not-so-little University one that continues to change the world and create thought leaders in a variety of healthcare disciplines.
Life University Founders
- Sidney E. Williams, D.C.
- Nell Williams, D.C.
- Ian Grassam, D.C.
- Janet Grassam
- Charles Ribley, D.C.
- Ruth Ribley
- R. James Gregg, D.C.
- John A. Hofmann, D.C.
- Thomas O. Morgan, D.C.
- Mary Ann Morgan
- Wayne King, D.C.
- Michael Nathanson, D.C.
- Ralph Ungerank, D.C.
- Wilma Ungerank
- Jim Sigafoose, D.C.
- Patsy Sigafoose