A Brief History of Ozark Christian College
1942 - 1944
Ozark Bible College was established in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 12, 1942. The school was committed to training men and women for Christian service by teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. An earlier OZARK CHRISTIAN COLLEGE was established in St. Joe, Arkansas, in 1938. It moved to Harrison, Arkansas, in 1939, and then to Bentonville in 1940. This school was to provide both occupational training and Bible teaching.
Ozark Bible College was founded to be a Bible college training full-time and part-time Christian workers. Workers were prepared to be ministers, missionaries, evangelistic singers, church secretaries, educational directors and assistant ministers, as well as elders, deacons and volunteer workers in the local church. The trustees elected F. W. Strong as president and Seth Wilson as dean, positions they held in the former college.
Many churches in the four state area of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma were closed and hundreds were without preachers. Ozark Bible College desired to provide Biblical preachers whose preaching would revive the churches.
516 N Wall St.
In October of 1944, Ozark Bible College moved to Joplin, Missouri. A large house located at 516 N. Wall Street became the new home for the college. Joplin was chosen as the new location for the college because it was easily reached by car, bus, train or plane. Many churches surrounded Joplin, which provided opportunities for student ministries. Joplin also had job opportunities for students.
In 1946, Edwin B. Strong succeeded his father as president of Ozark Bible College. The college grew from sixteen students in 1942 to 123 students in the fall of 1949. An addition to the building in 1948 provided a dining room, a small chapel and two classrooms. At this time most of the full-time faculty preached every weekend. Area ministers assisted as part-time instructors. Students were involved in service in the churches on weekends.
The curriculum has always stressed a knowledge of the Bible, gained through a direct study of the Biblical text, with every degree carrying a major in Bible. Strong emphasis has been placed on apologetics (knowing why we believe in God, Christ and the Bible) and hermeneutics (principles and methods for understanding the Bible). Skills for ministry were also taught at this time.
In 1952, Don Earl Boatman became the third president of Ozark Bible College, a post he held for 27 years. The college had a vision and desire to grow. In 1953 additions to the college provided a large chapel, a library and additional classrooms. This enabled the college to accommodate the 176 students who enrolled in the fall of 1954. In 1955, seventy-five churches were served by Ozark faculty, staff and students. Soon the college reached the maximum capacity in the 516 N. Wall building.
1111 North Main Street
1963 - Present
In 1959, forty acres were purchased on North Main Street, a mile north of downtown Joplin and less than a mile from the Wall Street location. The Missions Building and Alumni Hall were completed in 1963 providing classrooms and a dormitory for women. This enabled the college to move to the new campus to welcome 309 students in the fall of 1963. The Administration Building was completed a few weeks after the fall semester started. Under the direction of Walter Goodman, thirteen buildings were constructed on the new campus during its first two decades.
Every year during the 1960's enrollment increased, reaching a peak of 803 in the fall of 1974. New faculty and programs expanded the outreach of the college. The college was known for its emphasis on evangelism and missions.
In 1979, new leaders assumed responsibilities at Ozark Bible College. Ken Idleman became president and Wallace Wartick was named academic dean. Lynn Gardner became academic dean in 1981. In the same year, Ozark began the process of accreditation and received it from the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now called The Association for Biblical Higher Education) in 1988. On July 1, 1985, Midwest Christian College of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, consolidated with Ozark Bible College on the Joplin campus under the name of OZARK CHRISTIAN COLLEGE. The college grew numerically from the mid 1980’s until the present. A new record enrollment was set in the fall of 2005 of 849. Mark Scott became Academic Dean in 1998 and served until 2011.
In 2005, Matt Proctor was announced as the fifth president of OCC. He served for one year as the President Elect. On July 1, 2006 Matt Proctor officially became President of OCC with Ken Idleman serving as Chancellor. Ken served as Chancellor until 2007 before moving on to another ministry.
The college is now administered by three senior administrators: Matt Proctor, President, Damien Spikereit, Executive Vice President; and Doug Aldridge, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs/Academic Dean. These men work with the vice presidents (Dru Ashwell, Advancement; Travis Hurley, (Interim) Development; David McMillin, Campus Operations; Doug Miller, Effectiveness and General Counsel; Troy Nelson, Enrollment Management; and Monte Shoemake, Student Life;) to form the Administrative Council.
Today the attractive campus includes the Chapel, Missions Building, Seth Wilson Library Building, Casteel Administration Building, Dining Hall, Multi-Purpose Building, Mabee Student Center, Missionary-on-Campus Residence and Hospitality House, Hillside Building, Physical Plant Building and six Residence Halls. The current student enrollment is between 700 and 800. The college today continues to prepare men and women for vocational and volunteer Christian service. The college reaffirms its historic purpose by teaching the Word of God to men and women who will be equipped to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).