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50-year-old Bible college in Colorado Springs to sell campus, switch to online-only instruction

May 10, 2017 Updated: May 12, 2017 at 6:07 am
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The outside of Nazarene Bible College on Wednesday May 10, 2017. The college will be closing its campus at the end of the year. Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette.

The campus of Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs is up for sale, but the 50-year-old professional school of ministry isn't going away.

"I'm not ready for the sun to set on Nazarene Bible College," said Harold Graves Jr., who's been president of the college since 2006.

The school is selling its 18.5-acre campus with six buildings at 1111 Academy Park Loop and converting to an online-only instructional format.

Current students will be able to continue classes until they graduate at Colorado Springs First Church of the Nazarene, 4120 E. Fountain Blvd.

Graves said graduations will continue to be held in Colorado Springs.

"We still remain a Colorado institution," he said.

Another parcel of 23 undeveloped acres adjacent to the campus, which is northeast of South Academy and Fountain boulevards, also is on the market.

It's a sign of the times, Graves said, but one that he hopes becomes a blessing.

"It's a real challenge in this day and age for small colleges, whether they be Christian colleges or private schools, to keep things going unless there's a large endowment," he said. "Across the nation we're seeing mergers."

Enrollment of students on site has been declining for years, Graves said, to the point of no longer being able to sustain the organization.

"The cost of operating this campus really began to be a detriment to the mission of the college," he said.

The school opened in 1967 in Colorado Springs as the nation's first such Church of the Nazarene college designed to prepare adults to evangelize and minister to others.

While more than 1,000 students signed up for classes in the fall, on-campus enrollment was just 73 students.

"Our college has been primarily for adults, mostly second-career adults going into some type of ministry, and we've never had dorms or housing," Graves said.

With an eye to the future, the college started offering online studies in 1998 with 61 students.

Now, 91 percent of students are choosing to take classes online, and the college has developed offerings to include an accelerated degree completion program, a Spanish-language and contextualized version of its longstanding Pastoral Ministries major and a partnership with the Hong Kong Institute of Christian Counseling.

It's expected that 11 of the college's 56 employees will keep their jobs, Graves said. Some are retiring. A few will relocate to the denomination's Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kan. Others will stay in Colorado Springs and move their offices to First Church of the Nazarene, which is next door to the school.

The action displaces two other groups, Bill Callen's Pikes Peak New Horizons Band and a homeschool band. Both conduct rehearsals and give performances at the school.

"We've been there since 2008, and are looking for a new home," Callen said. "We were surprised they're closing the campus."

Bill Callen's New Horizons Band has up to 60 members who are senior adults, and the homeschool band has about 40 students as members, he said.

Callen's band will perform at Nazarene Bible College's graduation ceremony on May 28. The band is active from August through May each year.

"We certainly need a place to rehearse, or we will not be able to continue," Callen said.

Up to 300 people attend the band's concerts, he said.

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