aerial photo of campus, 1984.
preparing christians to live and serve in the church and the world according to the biblical worldview since 1932
calvary university is the successful result of a merger in 1961 between two small and struggling bible colleges – kansas city bible college (kcbc) and midwest bible college (mbc) in st. louis. a second merger took place in 1987 when citadel bible college of ozark, arkansas, joined calvary. these mergers represented a blending of institutional objectives, assets and liabilities, alumni associations, and doctrinal goals, as well as values that were held in common by all of the institutions.
in the early 1930s, christian work throughout the midwest needed experienced, well-trained pastors and teachers. the economic depression had the country in its grip, many churches were without pastors, and there were no evangelical schools in this area of the heartland. several christian leaders had been praying for a decade about the need for such a school, and the god-selected leaders for the original venture included dr. walter l. wilson, medical doctor, theologian, and author; rev. david bulkley, superintendent of the city union mission; and rev. r. fuller jaudon, pastor of the tabernacle baptist church.
kansas city bible institute first opened its doors in 1932 with dr. wilson as the first president. in 1935 it became kansas city bible college with dr. f. william may as president. in 1938 dr. may left kansas city bible college to assist with the founding of midwest bible and missionary institute in salina, kansas. also assisting was rev. nye j. langmade, who served as its first president until 1954. dr. may served as president from 1954 until 1956 when dr. roger andrus was appointed president. in 1946 midwest moved to st. louis, missouri. it became midwest bible college in 1959. in the early 1960s dr. al metsker, acting president of kcbc, met with dr. roger andrus, president of mbc, to explore the possibility of merging the two small colleges into one stronger institution.
in the summer of 1961 the blueprint was complete; the two schools merged, moved to a campus in the kansas city suburban community of prairie village, kansas, and became calvary bible college. the board of trustees of the newly formed school named dr. roger andrus as its first president. in addition to the individuals named above who were instrumental in the early years, calvary and its predecessor schools were blessed with a number of others who had a desire to see bible institutes begun in the midwest and had an active part in these beginnings – mr. dwight johnson, dr. charles r. rolls, dr. robert belton, dr. clifford lewis, and mr. stanley cook, to name a few.
in 1966 calvary moved to 1111 west 39th street in kansas city, where it remained until the move in 1980 to the current campus at the former richards-gebaur air force base. in 2012 the campus expanded across the street to 13 acres vacated by the us marines and awarded to the school by the us department of education, 9 which included a move-in ready dorm and three other buildings for new offices, classrooms, and space for chapel.
dr. andrus served as president of calvary until the early 1970s, and in 1974 dr. leslie madison was called as president. citadel bible college, originally named ozark bible institute, began in the heart of rev. a. h. levin. under his leadership, the school was organized by a group of pastors and businessmen and incorporated in the state of arkansas in 1947, with classes beginning in 1949. rev. levin served as citadel’s first president until his death in 1970, at which time his son, rev. robert levin, was appointed interim president. dr. paul brownback served as president from 1976 until the merger with calvary in 1987.
in 1991 dr. madison was appointed chancellor, and dr. donald urey, vice president for academic affairs at calvary, was named president. dr. jim anderson, an alumnus of kansas city bible college and former faculty member at calvary, was called as president in 1996. after dr. anderson’s return to full-time evangelistic work, the board of trustees named dr. elwood h. chipchase as president in 1999. in 2009, dr. chipchase retired, and dr. james l. clark, vice president and academic dean of the college, was named president. dr. clark was the first president of calvary to have graduated from calvary.
in 2014 dr. clark announced he would retire after 2015-2016 academic year, and in late 2015, dr. christopher cone was appointed to serve as president beginning in summer, 2016. dr. cone appointed dr. clark to the office of president emeritus. in mid-2016, calvary rebranded as calvary university, and added bylaws reaffirming and deepening calvary’s commitment to the bible as foundational and to the biblical worldview.
the board of trustees ended the presidency of dr. cone in may of 2020 and appointed cu chief operations officer, jeff campa, as interim president.
the calvary board of trustees, 1965.
calvary student and dj for kljc, dave jolly, 1983.
students in the dining hall, 1984.
former calvary presidents, dr. james clark (left) and dr. elwood chipchase (right).