Grace University is an American private Bible college located in Omaha, Nebraska. The university includes three separate colleges: Grace College of the Bible, Grace College of Graduate Studies, and Grace College of Continuing Education.
Founded in 1943, Grace was originally intended as an interdenominational Bible institute where Christian men and women might further their theological training. The ten ministers and leaders counted as Grace's founders (August Ewert, Albert Ewert, Albert Schultz, Peter Kliewer, Paul Kuhlmann, Harold Burkholder, John Barkman, C.H. Suckau, Solomon Mouttet, and John Tieszen) originally met to discuss relocating the Bible department of Oklahoma Bible Academy. After several days of prayer, they decided that really what was needed was a place of higher education.
Originally called Grace Bible Institute, the school opened in the fall of 1943 with a grand total of 23 students and six professors. No tuition was charged; instead, students performed "30-minute jobs" every day. That changed in 1948 when the Accrediting Association required member schools to charge money. The original tuition was a flat $50 fee. In 1976, the school's name was changed to Grace College of the Bible. On July 1, 1995, the school officially became Grace University, emphasizing the school's new academic identity.
Grace's original home was in the former site of the recently shuttered Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In less than a year the college was able to purchase Stuntz Hall on South 10th Street in Omaha. The current campus includes that lot (the hall, by then known as Old Main, was torn down in the 1990s because of decay and safety concerns) as well as the surrounding city blocks. In 1977, the University purchased St. Catherine’s Hospital Center for Continuing Care. This purchase added almost 2.7 acres (1.1 ha) to the campus and doubled facility space.
Grace University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. From the original three majors offered, Grace has grown to offer 36 undergraduate degrees and six graduate degrees, including Fast Track to Teaching. Popular programs include business, intercultural studies, communication, pastoral ministries, psychology, music, and teacher education. Approximately 500 students currently attend. Facilities include a state of the art library, a new gym (which hosted the NCCAA division II Volleyball National Championships in 2007 and 2008), a newly remodeled teacher education wing, and wifi across campus.
The teacher education program is one of the biggest programs offered at Grace University. This program started in 1998. This program strives to provide biblically integrated curriculum as well as challenging, up-to-date education. Students can choose from a variety of different areas of teaching interest. Elementary and Middle School Education majors automatically receive an additional English Language Learner endorsement with their diploma. Among the possibilities of teacher education programs, students can receive an associate’s degree of education, elementary education, middle school, and high school. Students are also given the opportunity to pursue a degree in music education.
As a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), Grace offers sports including baseball, women's soccer, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The Lady Royals Volleyball team was named Division II National Champions of the NCCAA in 2005. In 2007 and 2008, Grace University hosted the NCCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship. The Royals head coach Courtney Moore played for Grace from 2005-2008 and was an assistant coach for two seasons. In the six seasons Coach Moore has been a part of Grace volleyball, the team has competed at the National level five times to bring home two final four finishes, one National Runner-up finish and one National Championship.
In 2008, the Men's Basketball Team won the NCCAA Div. II National Championship. Starter Paul Putz was named Tournament MVP. They are currently coached by Willie Williams, who was a member of the 2008 National Championship team. The Royals won the NCCAA Div. II Central Region Championship in 2012 and 2013.
The men's soccer team is coached by Jon McNeel. The soccer team made consecutive appearances in the NCCAA National Tournament in 2002 and 2003. The women's soccer team is coached by Tanya Benning, a World Cup soccer player and former Husker.
The women's basketball team were the 2011 NCCAA Central Region Champions. This earned them a birth in the NCCAA Div. II National Tournament. They are coached by Grace University alum Shawn Kliewer. The Lady Royals won the NCCAA Div. II Central Region Championship in 2011 and 2012.
The men's baseball team is coached by former major league player and coach Thad Bosley.
Arts and music
In the area of fine arts, there are the Concert Band, the Women's Chorale, and most notably the Grace Chorale, which tours regularly across the United States and overseas. Instrumentalists have opportunities to join ensembles or the Community Concert Band. Annual musicals are held as well.
Grace University's code of conduct for its students is strict: no kissing, no prolonged hugs and no premarital sex. The school also forbids certain television channels which they assert consistently air material contrary to their values. HBO, MTV, and Comedy Central are among the restricted channels "because of the values they promote". The rules are laid out in a student handbook signed by students every year." The Resident Assistants and Deans are charged with upholding the school's code of conduct and holding the students accountable to the university's standards.
Married student expulsion controversy
Grace University receives federal Title IV funding under the Higher Education Act of 1965. This prohibits them from discriminating against individuals protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. However, this does not prohibit them from discriminating against students on the basis of sex or gender identity, and Grace University received national attention in 2013 when it expelled a married student on the basis of her orientation. Danielle Powell was expelled during her last semester at Grace when the university learned of her relationship with another woman. The university subsequently demanded she pay back $6,000 in scholarship funds that would have covered that semester at Grace, despite her not being allowed to complete it, and refused to issue Powell a transcript until payment. A petition demanding that the university waive its demands reached more than 30,000 signatures within the first week.
The most recent statistical report from Grace University reveals that 99.7% of the 438 students enrolled are from the United States, with 72% being from Nebraska. In 2008, Grace’s enrollment was 56% female, 44% male. In 2008, 77 students graduated with bachelor’s degrees, 21 with masters and 4 with associates. Grace also offers an accelerated adult degree completion program, EXCEL, for those who are not able to attend traditional undergraduate courses. The National Center of Education Statistics found Grace University's six-year graduation rate to be 48.8% in 2004, up from 33.7% the previous year. A 2013 report by a Nebraska Commission found that the 2011 statewide graduation rate was 50.1%, while at 32.1% Grace University has the lowest rate out of the 10 remaining independent institutions in Nebraska.
- Directory of HLC Institutions
- Academic Catalog 2012
- "Christian college in Omaha expels lesbian". USA Today. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Rogers, M. (2013). Grace University: Don't force my wife to pay back college scholarships because she's gay. Change.org. Retrieved from .
- "Statistical Information: Grace University". Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Horn, Laura. "Placing College Graduation Rates in Context". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Hunter, et al. "2013 Nebraska Higher Education Progress Report". Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.
- Grace University
- Grace University (Omaha, Nebraska, USA) at Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online