In June 1885, the Educational Board of General Baptists gained a charter from the state of Indiana to operate a college at Oakland City. Oakland City College opened its doors for classes in 1891, in a two-story brick structure that housed the administration and classrooms, on 10 acres of land donated by Colonel William M. Cockrum.
In 1907, the college was accredited by the state of Indiana as a teacher training institution. And by the mid 1920s, several buildings graced the grounds, a number of college sports were played, and more than a dozen clubs were active.
In addition to its liberal arts and theological school, the college had added a large industrial and agricultural department. Enrollment during these prosperous times often reached nearly 1,000 students a semester.
|A.D. Williams, D.D.||1889-1894|
|Joseph B. Cox (Acting)||1895-1903|
|William P. Dearing, LL.D.||1903-1945|
|James E. Cox, Ph.D., Lit.D||1945-1955|
|Onis G. Chapman, D.D.||1955-1965|
|Carl E. Shepard, Ph.D.||1965-1968|
|Ben M. Elrod, Th.D.||1968-1970|
|Laurence N. Barrett, Ph.D. (Acting)||1970-1971|
|Bernard A. Loposer, Th.D.||1971-1973|
|James W. Murray, Ph.D.||1974-2007|
|Alton D. Davis, D.D. (Acting)||2007-2008|
|Ray G. Barber, D.Min.||2008-present|
With the coming of the Great Depression, student rolls shrunk, and faculty and staff often had to forgo paychecks in order to keep the school running. However, at the end of World War II, with the institution of the G.I. Bill, the college saw a resurgence in enrollment, and by the mid 1960s, several new buildings crowned the campus.
Enrollment once again dropped substantially when the war in Vietnam ended. In 1973, the General Baptists made an intense effort to raise funds to keep the school open.
The university became fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools on April 13, 1977, gained full accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education in 1981, and expanded its programming to offer five graduate degrees and more than forty undergraduate programs. In addition, the establishment of the Chapman School of Religious Studies provided a home for the only General Baptist seminary in the nation.
The college achieved university status in 1995, and during the two decades that followed, school enrollment grew to 2,000 and six new buildings were constructed.