Lincoln Christian University in Illinois will close at the end of the academic year, and its seminary will be acquired by Ozark Cristian College, The State-Journal Register reported Thursday.
The private Christian college has struggled with enrollment in recent years, leading it to trim staff and nonministry degree offerings and cut athletics programs in an unsuccessful effort to right the ship. Administrators told the newspaper that the university was also affected by the 2022 closure of unaffiliated Lincoln College —also in Illinois—which caused confusion among prospective students given the similar names.
Lincoln Christian University enrolled 537 students in fall 2021, according to the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. That number is down from 672 students in fall 2019, the last semester before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and prompted a slowdown in enrollment nationwide. A decade ago, LCU enrolled 997 students.
Lincoln Christian University joins a number of other institutions that have announced closures this year, including Alderson Broaddus University, Alliance University, Cabrini University, Cardinal Stritch University, Finlandia University, Hodges University, Holy Names University, Iowa Wesleyan University, Medaille University, Presentation College and various for-profit colleges.
Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have both predicted more college closures, mergers and reorganizations to come as the sector navigates challenges including stagnant enrollment, wage growth, inflation, rising operational costs and other economic concerns.