By Hunter Ellis and Heather Gast | Staff Writer and Managing Editor
After nearly 100 years in higher education, Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) officially announced it’s doors will close its doors at the end of this fall semester.
On Oct. 29, CCU sent a letter to its students that confirmed the university was no longer going to offer accredited degree programs and they would need to finish their degrees elsewhere.
Josiah Kuha, a graduate student at CCU, said the news that the university was closing was sudden and unexpected to students.
“We knew CCU was in a precarious place, but there seemed to be a clear path forward, and a lot of people had hope that CCU would survive,” Kuha said. “When we were suddenly told that it was closing its doors at the end of the semester… it was a punch to the gut.”
This decision was a long time coming for the university. Since the recession in 2008, it has faced massive struggles with enrollment and finances.
In 10 years, CCU has seen its enrollment drop to nearly half its original size. To bring in more students, the university lowered acceptance standards, resulting in a 92% acceptance rate.
Despite having accepted more students, the university’s retention rates and graduation rates dramatically declined. The graduation rate currently stands at 34%.
To address the problems of revenue, CCU laid off a large portion of its staff, and student-to-faculty rates rose as a result. In a last-gasp effort to bring in more revenue and donors, the university adopted a plan in 2015 to add a new stadium and football team. This decision had the opposite of the desired effect and increased the university’s debt.
The culmination of factors like the low retention and graduation rates forced CCU leadership to take drastic measures.
A misstep by university leaders in appointing a president, but having no documentation, meeting notes or job description to back up the decision, led the Higher Learning Commission to send a letter to CCU asking them to prove why they shouldn’t lose accreditation this past summer.
CCU has stated that it simply has run out of money and are unable to pursue re-accreditation.
With its decision to close, CCU has made an effort to not leave undergraduate and graduate students out in the cold.
The CCU administration has provided a list of 12 schools with whom the administration is working out affiliation agreements for students to transfer.
Other local universities, including Northern Kentucky University and Xavier, have taken it upon themselves to provide for CCU’s students, who learned of the closing after transfer applications were due at most major universities.
Xavier has had several students from CCU reach out about transferring and is offering an expedited transfer application that waives fees.
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