ACTCM Struggles to Do Right by Remaining Students

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The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) was first established in 1980. In 2024 it’ll cease to exist. Acquired by the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in 2015, the CIIS Board of Trustees decided to close ACTCM in 2021 following an external audit. 

“The decision to close was multifaceted; finances, leadership, changes in the field, among others, were also involved,” an ACTCM spokesperson said. 

While the school will operate for roughly 14 months, it hopes to terminate its lease on its 450 Connecticut Street/455 Arkansas Street campus by this October. Yet the school wants to continue to hold in-person clinical courses at the campus through the fall 2023 semester, which ends in December, according to the registrar’s office. In other words, ACTCM wants to lease the campus but continue to use it for upwards of another 90-days, an optimistic goal.

ACTCM claims it’s engaging in a “teach-out,” working with students to complete their degrees even though the institution is closing its doors. Currently enrolled students can continue with ACTCM, and be awarded a degree, provided that they can finish by summer 2024. However, it’s unclear how or where the college will offer courses next year.  

ACTCM hired a consultant with expertise in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine education to help guide the teach-out process. The consultant is holding individual meetings with enrolled students to review their course of study and provide advice on the best path to degree completion, the spokesperson said. Students who choose to relocate to another college, such as the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland or Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, will be subject to those institution’s willingness to accept transfer credits.  

All core faculty will continue to be employed by ACTCM for at least the next academic year, unless they choose to voluntarily depart, with no immediate changes to faculty or staff. Similarly, there’ll be no modifications to benefits if staff members remain with their current employment status, according to ACTCM.

ACTCM has a rental agreement with the property owner, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, that extends to September 30, 2024. The college is working with real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield to rent the 12,000-square-foot, two-level building. The property is best suited for a school, according to Cushman & Wakefield. 

After ACTCM’s lease expires in 2024, the Archdiocese isn’t sure what’ll happen to the property. A spokesperson said they’re primarily focused on helping ACTCM secure a subtenant and haven’t thought much beyond that.

ACTCM has an illustrious history. In 1986, it became the first American college to award a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1991, it was accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After merging with CIIS, ACTCM was able to establish the first professional doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine that was both nationally and regionally approved.

“While the upcoming closure of ACTCM deeply saddens our community, we are confident that the medicine and amazing work of faculty, students, and alumni will continue to benefit our local and global community,” the ACTCM website states.