Crowley's Ridge College (CRC)

Crowley’s Ridge College (CRC) in Paragould (Greene County) is a co-educational liberal arts college providing a balanced course of study. Until it became a four-year institution in 2008, it was the only two-year college in the nation affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

Crowley’s Ridge College opened its doors on July 6, 1964, as a Christian junior college. CRC’s founder, Dr. Emmett Floyd Smith Jr., had a strong desire to bring college-level Christian education to northeast Arkansas. Eleven years earlier, in 1953, Smith had established a Christian secondary school, Crowley’s Ridge Academy, and found that there was support for other Christian endeavors such as the Children’s Homes of Paragould and Crowley’s Ridge College. Governor Orval Faubus helped turn the first shovel of dirt on January 29, 1964, at CRC’s groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction of the campus.

In CRC’s beginning, it offered a new concept of Christian education as an “accelerated institution of higher education.” Under this program, it was possible to earn sixty-four semester hours within a forty-eight-week period, thereby completing the associate of arts degree in one calendar year. Through the accelerated program, CRC was able to pass the savings in time and money on to the student and his or her family. One major roadblock to the accelerated system was the transfer of credits to senior colleges. While it was an innovative program, it became more difficult to gain the approval of people who had spent a lifetime working in conventional programs. Of the eighty enrolling in the first class, eighteen completed the associate’s degree for the first commencement exercise on June 18, 1965. In 1974, CRC began moving away from the accelerated study to a conventional trimester academic calendar, changing to the present semester system permanently in the fall of 1981.

In 1995, CRC received initial candidacy by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The NCA visiting team of 1998 recommended continued candidacy. On August 7, 2000, the commission granted full accreditation to CRC. In 2005, CRC was granted a ten-year extension (the most any college or university can receive) through 2015.

CRC offers three associate’s degrees—in general studies, the Bible, and teaching. CRC’s enrollment as of September 2014 was 223. Most students come from within Arkansas, and approximately seventy percent are affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Many continue their education in either the local state colleges or one of CRC’s sister senior institutions among the Churches of Christ.

The sports programs at CRC have always drawn interest from prospective students. Men’s baseball and basketball began intercollegiate-level competition in the early 1970s but were discontinued for budgetary reasons. They were reinstated on a non-scholarship level in 1984 and continue to the present; they now include soccer. The women’s programs are volleyball and fast-pitch softball; the volleyball team won the National Bible College Athletic Association—currently the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA)—national championship in 1996. All teams compete in the ACCA, and the men’s basketball team was runner-up national champion in 2005 and 2007.

CRC became a four-year college in 2008, and its president is Ken Hoppe.

For additional information:
Crowley’s Ridge College. (accessed June 15, 2023).

McFadden, Paul. “Crowley’s Ridge College—The First Forty Years.” N.p.: n.d.

Paul McFadden
Crowley’s Ridge College


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