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Cincinnati Christian University decides not to fight for accreditation, will close in 2020

Posted at 1:11 AM, Oct 29, 2019

CINCINNATI — The 95-year-old Cincinnati Christian University will officially cease to exist as an educational institution at the start of 2020, having decided to withdraw from its accreditation rather than attempt to keep it. The decision will put CCU out of commission in the middle of the school year.

According to a notice posted Monday on the school’s website, CCU will funnel its existing resources and infrastructure into supporting Central Christian College of the Bible, a Missouri-based college with plans to open a Cincinnati extension site by spring. Students will be expected to transfer — either to CCCB or a partner institution, CCCB wrote on its own website.

Only a select number of CCU employees will keep their jobs at the new CCCB extension site. However, CCU students will have the option to continue their studies in the CCCB extension site.

"CCU will assist CCCB in establishing an extension site in Cincinnati for current and future ministry students to receive undergraduate and graduate education," a post on CCCB's website reads. "CCCB will help CCU’s ministry students complete their education through the extension site, online courses, or by transferring to its Moberly campus."

Although both institutions announced the change in news releases emphasizing “a historic partnership,” Facebook commenters on CCU’s announcement wrote repeatedly that they and their loved ones had been blindsided. Many expressed feelings of anger and betrayal.

In a letter posted on CCU's website addressed to CCU students, the school's board of trustees said they "reached out to over a dozen accredited institutions," to see if these institutions would accept the students. Some of these institutions include, Mount St. Joseph University, Thomas More University and Xavier University.

The letter also said CCU has been working with these same institutions on preliminary "teach-out" and transfer arrangements for students.

The letter also said, "we are providing you with information regarding the 'closed school loan discharge process' administered by the United States Department of Education." Here is the criteria to begin the process, and here is the form for the process.

CCU’s troubles with the Higher Learning Commission, which provides accreditation to universities in the central United States, date back to at least the summer.

In a July letter, the commission’s board of trustees wrote to CCU president Ron Heineman that he would soon be required to make a compelling case for retaining accreditation. According to the letter, which can be viewed online, CCU:

  • Did not “operate with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and auxiliary functions” or establish processes governing fair, ethical behavior among its employees. Significantly, Heineman himself held high-ranking positions with both CCU and Central Bank, its primary lender, where he worked as chief restructuring officer.
  • Was understaffed, employed faculty to teach graduate programs without proof of qualifications and failed to develop a plan for improvement. According to the letter, “student surveys conducted over several years indicate that students were significantly impacted by loss of faculty.”
  • Did not develop functional program reviews or data collection procedures for assessing and improving its courses.
  • Changed its mission statement “without a process suited to the nature and culture of the Institution,” then failed to clearly articulate or follow that mission.
  • Did not make a convincing case that it was prepared to support itself in the future, particularly financially. According to the letter, CCU lost $350,000 a month in 2015. By 2019, it remained financially fragile and did not meet the Office of Federal Student Aid’s standards of financial responsibility.

The letter requested CCU file a show-cause report making its case for continued accreditation no later than Dec. 1.

It withdrew from accreditation instead.

Cincinnati Christian University deleted a reporter’s Facebook comments attempting to ask former employees and students how they had learned about the change.

Its president and board chair did not respond to emailed requests for comment Monday night.

CCU's website appears to have deleted all pages except the letter announcing its partnership with CCCB.