Cincinnati Christian College Closes Its Doors


According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cincinnati Christian University will close its doors.  I don’t know much about this school beyond the fact that they had a pretty good basketball team in the 1980s (the school was then known as Cincinnati Bible College) led by two phenomenal guards named Charlie McMahan and Lawain McNeil.

Here is a taste of Eric Kelderman and Dan Bauman’s reporting:

Three months after Cincinnati Christian University was disciplined by its accreditor, the institution announced it will close at the end of the fall semester.

A regional accrediting agency told the university in July that it had a year to “show cause” why it shouldn’t lose accreditation. Cincinnati Christian’s financial condition and governance lapses had put its status at risk. Without accreditation, the university would lose access to millions of dollars in federal student aid.

But instead of enduring that process, the college’s board announced on Monday that it will close its doors at the end of the semester.

“We hope this letter finds you well! You may have heard by now that CCU has made the difficult decision to cease offering accredited degree programs following the Fall 2019 semester,” said an open letter to students posted online Monday.

“We are truly sorry to have to send this letter. CCU has been serving students for almost a century, and we view all of you as friends and family,” the letter said. It was signed by the college’s Board of Trustees.

Since 2015, the college has made a series of bold bets to try to reverse declining enrollment and tuition revenues. Those moves were among the reasons cited by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, when it issued its dire warning in the summer.

With little planning, the college started a football program, laid off administrative staff and faculty members to cut costs, and revised its academic mission. But its retention and graduation rates suffered, the accreditor reported, while its fiscal condition continued to erode.

The university has now spent the entirety of its $4-million endowment, according to financial disclosures filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The institution owed nearly $6 million at the end of the 2018 fiscal year on a mortgage to Central Bank and Trust, which has claim to all of the university’s assets.

The accreditor also found numerous conflicts of interest within the university’s governance structure. President Ronald E. Heineman is a former board member who was also appointed chief restructuring officer by the bank. That situation led Heineman to put the interests of the bank that extended credit to Cincinnati Christian above the interests of the institution itself, the accreditor said.

Heineman, a local businessman, also has a troubled past, including having had to pay a $150,000 fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission. He also owes more than a million dollars in unpaid state taxes, according to Chronicle reporting.

The university’s closure gives the institution’s nearly 700 undergraduates little time to choose a new college to continue their studies. In its letter to students, the college said it is seeking to finalize agreements with a dozen other colleges where students might be able to complete their degree programs.

Read the rest here.

The article also mentions the way the university is explaining its closure on the college website.  Rather than announcing the closing of the college, the leaders of Cincinnati Christian is promoting its “historic partnership” with Central Christian College of the Bible in Missouri:

Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) announces a new partnership with Central Christian College of the Bible (CCCB). This follows the decision by CCU’s Trustees to withdraw from Higher Learning Commission accreditation following the Fall 2019 semester.  In Spring 2020, CCCB will open an extension site in Cincinnati to provide accredited ministerial degrees in the region. At the same time, CCU will work together with CCCB to serve more congregations and ministry leaders through the Center for Church Leadership (CCL).

CCU realizes this decision will greatly impact students and employees, but also views it as the best possible stewardship of the resources and opportunities God has provided. Over the past two decades, it has become increasingly difficult to provide accredited ministry programs at a reasonable cost in a metropolitan location. CCU has approached this challenge by exploring mergers, adding other programs, and expanding athletic programming to attract more students. These strategies have allowed the school to serve new populations but have not overcome the financial challenges that face many private, residential colleges today.