Cincinnati Christian University: A Brief Look Back on Its 95-Year History in Price Hill - by Scott Lloyd, Febuary 2022
On October 28, 2019, the leadership of Cincinnati Christian University made a surprising announcement to its students, employees, and alumni: the school was going to close its doors in December, making the fall semester its final one. For several years leading up to the announcement, CCU had been struggling with declining enrollment and financial hardships. Furthermore, in the summer of 2019, the University was placed on notice by its primary accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, which added to CCU’s difficulties. University leadership struggled to find solutions to these challenges, which led them to make the difficult decision to cease operations.
CCU was originally known as Cincinnati Bible Seminary, which first opened its doors in August of 1924 in two buildings at 951-959 Chateau Avenue in Price Hill. Representing the merger of two schools that began operation the previous year—Cincinnati Bible Institute in downtown Cincinnati and McGarvey Bible Institute in Louisville—CBS welcomed its first students on the Chateau Avenue property with financial assistance from The Clarke Fund (now known as Christian Restoration Association). Fulfilling its mission as stated by its charter issued by the State of Ohio, the small college began training men and women for Christian service. Recognizing the need for a chapel, CBS also began renting the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Price Avenue. CBS would go on to purchase the church building in 1941. Quickly outgrowing the original Chateau Avenue property, CBS purchased the property at 2700 Glenway Avenue in 1939. This property had formerly been the site of the family home of Peter Neff, a prominent Price Hill resident, and the college moved to its new location in 1940. For the next several decades, the school operated out of the Neff Mansion, the Neff family’s coach house, and some buildings that were built on the property during the time when Grandview Sanitarium operated at the site. Over the years, CCU added its own buildings to the Glenway property: three dormitories (Rine Hall in 1954, Alumni Hall in 1959, and Restoration Hall in 1974), the Crouch Building in 1967 (a library and classroom building), President’s Hall in 1983 (a multi-purpose building with classrooms, offices, gymnasium, dining hall, and campus bookstore), and the Worship and Ministry Building in 2002 (another multipurpose building with an auditorium/worship center, classrooms, offices, coffee shop, and a student recreation center). CBS was affiliated with the independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, and several of these churches became financial supporters of the school. Throughout its ninety-five year history, Cincinnati Bible Seminary also experienced multiple names changes, eventually becoming Cincinnati Bible College and Cincinnati Christian Seminary in 1973, then later becoming Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary, and finally Cincinnati Christian University in 2004. Over the years, CCU educated thousands of men and women for ministry, missionary work, and other vocations, and its alumni served and continue to serve both throughout the United States and in several countries around the world.
When the announcement was made that CCU was closings its doors at the end of the fall semester in 2019, another announcement was made simultaneously: Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri would form a foundation to preserve CCU’s Russell School of Ministry, the Christian Church Leadership Network, and the university’s library and archives. Thus, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation began, and is now operating in Florence Kentucky. The headquarters of the CCLF, located on Mall Road, houses over 50,000 books formerly owned by CCU and has several items from the university’s archives on display in the new facility, including many photographs and other memorabilia.
Last year, IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-Based charter school, announced it would be purchasing the property on Glenway Avenue formerly occupied by CCU. IDEA held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 9, and the school’s leadership announced its plans to renovate the Crouch Building, Presidents’ Hall, and the Worship & Ministry Building to provide learning spaces for K-12 students. IDEA also announced it would demolish the buildings that had been known as “Restoration Hall” and “Alumni Hall,” both of which served as dormitories for CCU. In fact, Alumni Hall was demolished in February, and renovation work on the three previously-mentioned buildings is already well underway. The new school will be known as “IDEA Price Hill,” and it plans to open its doors to students in time for the 2022-2023 school year. IDEA will start by offering classes for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and sixth grade. Thus, new life will be breathed into the old CCU campus and its facilities as the property at 2700 Glenway Avenue finds new purpose as a host to a new educational institution.