We have always been proud to have so many churches trust us to provide conservative Biblical teaching. They recognize our educational quality by hiring our graduates in various ministries. But accreditation helps a college maintain the operational quality needed to succeed. In 1982, Central first received national accreditation from the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges, which we maintain under the Commission on Accreditation of ABHE (Association for Biblical Higher Education). This recognizes that we meet national standards for educational quality and makes our students eligible for Federal Financial Aid.
In 2006, our Board of Directors instructed President Ron Oakes to pursue regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education. (ABHE is also recognized by the DOE.) We expected to receive two benefits: 1) increasing the real and perceived quality of our institution, and 2) increasing confidence in the educational options available for students who attend Central. Some universities only accept credits and degrees from regionally accredited colleges, which means our national accreditation limits student opportunities in many cases.
The regional accrediting process is lengthy. For the first five years, we completed reports and a self-study on the HLC criteria. Our initial site visit was in 2012, when a group of peers came to campus and evaluated our progress. We were approved as a candidate in 2013 and were given four years to demonstrate we were meeting all 21 criteria.
During that time, we created a system to demonstrate students were achieving the learning outcomes in their classes. A program review schedule was created to evaluate our ministry degrees. Every department made changes to improve the student experience and enrollment results.
Central’s financial picture also improved through enhanced reporting, expense controls, and budgetary planning. As a result of our efforts, we finished two consecutive fiscal years in the black: 2015-16 and 2016-17. This enabled us to eliminate some debt. The Department of Education recognized our progress with composite financial ratios that were rated “financially responsible” for the past two years.
In June 2017, the College’s progress was evaluated by the HLC Board, which determined that even though we met every criteria (some “with concerns”), there were too many concerns that remained for them to extend initial accreditation. Therefore, on July 31, 2017, Central withdrew from the process. This gives us at least one year to address their concerns and prepare for our next steps. We are eligible to restart the process as early as August 1, 2018, if we identify regional accreditation as an institutional priority.
At this point, we are disappointed that regional accreditation was not obtained after ten years of effort. However, the process has made us a stronger institution. We will continue to maintain our national accreditation with ABHE, which affirms the quality of our biblical and ministry training. We are working with several regionally accredited universities to provide transfer access for Central students and alumni. In the months to come, we look forward to announcing those agreements. They will allow us to accomplish some of the same goals for our students to pursue non-ministry educational options.
Central Christian College of the Bible does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, disability, national or ethnic origin in employment, admissions, financial aid, and participation in College programs.