Fall 2019 marks 20 years since The King’s College reopened in New York City. Our story is one of faith, daring, and God’s grace.
Founded in 1938 by Percy Crawford, King’s moved to several campuses but had its longest sojourn in Briarcliff Manor, NY for 40 years. Economic hardships, compounded by an unexpected delay in disposing of a second mortgage, forced King’s to close its doors in the fall of 1994; but thanks to the vision of a Christian member on the New York State Board of Education, the College’s legal charter was allowed to remain in force.
In 1998, King’s president Dr. Friedhelm Radandt joined forces with J. Stanley Oakes and Dr. Bill Bright of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) to recapitalize the school. In 1999, Northeastern Bible College gifted King’s its financial assets after closing in 1990 under similar economic pressures that were affecting many Christian colleges in the Northeast. Consensus grew around reopening in New York City; a real estate connection opened a lead on an iconic address; and in the fall of 1999, King’s reopened its doors with 17 students, this time in the Empire State Building.
Those original 17 students took a risk on a school that was then not accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, didn’t have a single full-time faculty member, and was not yet offering four-year degrees. King’s did have state accreditation through the New York Board of Regents, but in 2004 even that stamp of approval was threatened by what many took to be the ill will of one Regent who took sudden issue with the legitimacy of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) major. The College granted its first bachelor degrees in 2003.
That same year, the Board of Trustees elected Oakes as the College’s fourth president. Oakes immediately began consulting with Dr. Peter Wood of Boston University to design the PPE core curriculum and major, and Wood implemented the program upon joining King’s as provost in 2005. Under Wood’s direction, the education major was discontinued in favor of the business management and PPE majors. These majors, combined with our PPE Core, would contribute to the College’s identity as a culture-shaping institution.
In 2009, the news broke that Stan Oakes would be taking a leave of absence to seek treatment for brain cancer. His treatment, return, and subsequent retirement initiated a series of presidential transitions that lasted from the 2007-08 academic year to the summer of 2013, with no one person at the helm longer than two years. Despite this administrative turnover, King’s delivered on its promise of academic excellence in measurable ways. In the 2009-10 academic year, the College achieved full accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education under the leadership of education professor Dr. Robert Jackson. Despite retention issues that troubled the College throughout its first decade or more, the King’s community grew as well. The College recruited top-performing high school students from around the country and hired additional full-time faculty members, bringing the total number of full-time faculty and program chairs to two dozen. Today, King’s employs 32 full-time faculty and ranks 13th in the United States for the geographic breadth of its recruiting, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
In the summer of 2012, with the Empire State Building planning a public stock offering and courting a more exclusive tenant pool, King’s relocated to its current location at 56 Broadway in Manhattan—one block south of Wall Street. In 2013 Dr. Gregory Thornbury was named the College’s sixth President, replacing author Dinesh D’Souza. Under Thornbury’s leadership, the College renewed its emphasis on Christian formation, increased its major offerings, expanded the Board of Trustees, added additional academic and student space, and rejoined the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. MSCHE accreditation was renewed in 2015, with the renewal efforts led by English professor Dr. Ethan Campbell.
Student housing, originally in Herald Square, has been centered around the Financial District and in Brooklyn since the College moved to Lower Manhattan. In a banner moment for the College, King’s purchased its first Manhattan residential building at 102 Greenwich St. in May 2018. In May 2019 it was dedicated as DeVos Hall in honor of Rich and Helen DeVos, whose gift made the purchase possible.
Currently, under the presidential leadership of Brigadier General Tim Gibson, King’s is 556 students strong and growing. At 79%, the retention rate is higher than ever. Students are achieving academic and post-college success. Ninety-four percent of King’s students in the last graduating class interned before graduation (compared to the national average of 61%), and 98% of graduates in the past two years have become employed or started graduate school within six months of graduating—a full 17% above the national average. Alumni are currently studying or serving in strategic institutions such as Harvard, Columbia, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Court of Appeals, Broadway, Goldman Sachs, World Vision, Teach for America, and the United Nations.
So, with gratitude to God and all who helped make King’s what we are today, we celebrate 20 years in New York City and more than 80 years of higher education for the glory of God!