John Witherspoon College
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|Motto||Fides Quaerens Intellectum|
|Location||Rapid City, South Dakota|
John Witherspoon College is a non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in Rapid City, South Dakota still in the process of gaining accreditation. The college was founded in 2012, and named after the pastor, scholar, and American Founding Father John Witherspoon. The College was created to serve both a local need for Christian higher education in the Black Hills and the broader interest for classic liberal-arts education in America.
In 2004, the Black Hills Bible Institute was founded by members of South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. Its chief instigator was Dr. C. Richard Wells, a member of the founding faculty of Beeson Divinity School, former President of Criswell College, and the Pastor of South Canyon Baptist Church from 2004–2009. The purpose of the Institute was to offer affordable, academic theological training in the Black Hills to students, including those transferred from other conforming Christian colleges. In 2009, Dr. Wells accepted an offer to be the Dean of Chapel at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and in 2011 returned to Rapid City to restructure the Black Hills Bible Institute into John Witherspoon College, where he is currently President.
According to the official website, the college's purpose is "to glorify God as the beginning and end of all knowledge" and mission is "to build a community of Christ-centered, classics-based education for service to the church and the world."
On August 21, 2012, John Witherspoon College began its first classes. The Inaugural Convocation took place on the campus on September 6 with city Mayor Sam Kooiker as the keynote speaker. US Senator John Thune was the keynote speaker of the annual ScholarShare Banquet the following Spring.
For the tax year of 2012, the college had an income of about $255 thousand.
In Fall 2014 the college announced that it had Applicant status with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), a Christian accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. In April 2015, the TRACS Higher Education Commission approved the college for Candidate status. According to the Rapid City Journal, Witherspoon courses will be accredited through Union University, until the accreditation process is completed.
The campus of John Witherspoon College is located at 4021 Range Road, collocated with BigHorn Canyon Community Church. This land was purchased by Black Hills Bible School in 1956 out of the 1200-acre holdings of the Rapid City Indian boarding school. It was formerly the Abiding Word Lutheran Church. The College library and faculty offices are located in the Christ Church Annex at 414 S. Canyon Road.
The College offers courses inside the Rapid City Juvenile Services Center for incarcerated youth who want to begin working on college degrees while serving time.
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