Christian College Reverts to Bible Degrees After Deep Cuts

In financial trouble, Lincoln Christian University goes back to its roots as a Bible college, dropping most undergraduate majors, athletics, and residential life.

A small Christian college with sharply declining enrollment announced it had to “face the facts” this week and either change or die. Lincoln Christian University (LCU), in Lincoln, Illinois, is hoping deep cuts and a directional shift are enough to save it, but president Silas McCormick said the school had reached “the end of our runway” with its current model.

Lincoln Christian has about 500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs on a campus built for about 2,000, and it announced this week that it would be cutting most undergraduate majors, offering only Bible and Theology as well as Christian Ministry, and focusing instead on seminary education and vocational training at partner churches. The school is affiliated with the fellowship of Independent Christian Churches.

It will end most campus and residential activities and shut down athletics, but current students can finish out their degrees. It is considering what to do with its campus property.

“You have to face the hard facts,” said Tamsen Murray, the chair of Lincoln Christian’s board. “For me, this becomes a stewardship issue. … We will ask you to continue to invest kingdom dollars but in this new way that we think is sustainable.”

The school saw enrollment decline by 50 percent over the last decade and had a total net operating deficit of $3.5 million over that span. School leadership noticed that students were less interested in living on campus in downstate Illinois where the population was declining.

“There’s a lot of advantages to experiencing college in a residential setting,” McCormick told CT. “But you can’t force people to buy products that they don’t want.” …

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