By Jim Nieman
Under a merger plan being discussed between Central Christian College of the Bible and St. Louis Christian College, the latter’s campus “will remain open and functioning as normal for this entire academic year,” SLCC president Terry Stine said.
After this school year, the plan is for SLCC’s students and some staff members to move to CCCB’s campus in Moberly, Mo., Stine said.
The two colleges “have a very similar focus on educating Christian preachers and missionaries,” Stine said. “We will be ‘better together,’ and I believe this is a win for the kingdom.”
Boards of trustees of both schools might consider a plan for approval at their October 2021 meetings. “Any agreed plan will then be implemented during the following months with the support of The Solomon Foundation and other regional partners,” according to a joint announcement earlier this month.
If a plan is approved as envisioned, “The Solomon Foundation will take care of the sale of the [SLCC] campus and use those funds to help other Christian church/church of Christ churches and parachurch organizations to fulfill the Great Commission,” Stine said Wednesday. “SLCC will still have a Legacy Scholarship administered by some SLCC people and The Solomon Foundation for students who want to attend CCCB.”
In the joint announcement available at CCCB’s website and SLCC’s website, the boards of trustees said “a merger or similar formal arrangement between the two institutions . . . will provide traditional and innovative options for ministry education in the St. Louis area.”
“Current SLCC students will have a path to complete their educational programs, either on Central’s campus in Moberly or at a location in the St. Louis area,” the announcement continued. “It will also provide affordable options for future students in the greater St. Louis area to be served in new and exciting ways.”
CCCB president Dr. David Fincher is leading design of a formal plan.
SLCC ENROLLMENT CHALLENGES
Stine highlighted enrollment issues St. Louis Christian College has experienced during the past two years at its Florissant, Mo., campus, 15 miles northwest of St. Louis. He said that last fall’s decline was worse than Christian Standard reported last October.
“We actually ended up with a confirmed 20 students who did not attend last year because of COVID-19,” Stine said.
“Enrollment looked to be up this year,” Stine continued; over the summer it was projected at 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) students. “Then, two weeks before classes started, the new students started announcing they were not coming this year. Some were taking a year off. Many of them were because of concerns about COVID. . . . The number one reason given by those students, though, was the social and political unrest in the St. Louis area.”
The St. Louis area has been a hotbed for squabbling over mask-wearing and mandates, Stine said. There also have been scores of protests over policing since last summer in downtown St. Louis. Additionally, in 2020, the homicide rate in St. Louis was at its highest level in 50 years.
Stine’s opinion is that the negative news coverage served to dissuade several prospective students who live outside the metropolitan area.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.