Grace University (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Grace University, 2017.
Source: Grace University website

Grace University (first known as Grace Bible Institute, and in 1976 as Grace College of the Bible), Omaha, Nebraska, was organized for the purpose of training Christian workers in an inter-Mennonite context. The organizational meeting was held on 1 June 1943. The ten ministers in attendance included August Ewert, Albert Ewert, Albert Schultz, Peter Kliewer, Paul Kuhlmann, Harold Burkholder, John Barkman, Cornelius H. Suckau, Solomon Mouttet, and John Tieszen. The Board of Directors included leaders from six Mennonite conferences. The student body increased from 23 in 1943 to 325 by 1955. The 1955 enrollment consisted of young people from 20 denominations, 24 states, and 5 foreign countries. Sixty-five per cent of the student body was Mennonite at that time. In 2007-2008 there were 440 undergraduates enrolled from 24 states; 317 of these from Nebraska. Twenty-three denominations were represented; 17 students identified themselves as Mennonite.

The Grace Bible Institute was accredited by the Accrediting Association of Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges—Collegiate Division. It offered the degree of Bachelor of Arts with a Bible major. The liberal arts courses were fully accredited by the University of Nebraska. The Institute was classified as a professional school in that it was primarily devoted to the training of young people for full-time Christian service. Grace Bible Institute, as an inter-Mennonite school, affirmed its stand as true and loyal to the time-honored Mennonite doctrines.

Over the years Grace also expanded physically through the construction and purchase of additional facilities. These included Suckau Chapel (basement, 1949; main floor, 1957); Schmidt Hall (1962); Harold D. Burkholder Center (1967) which includes the Jim Classen Gymnasium (2003); and the Donald J. Tschetter Academic Building (1975). In 1977, Grace purchased the St. Catherine’s Hospital Center for Continuing Care, adding building used for dorms and administrative purposes. In 2003 a gymnasium as was added.

In 1995 Grace Bible Institute became Grace University with three colleges: Grace College of the Bible, Grace College of Graduate Studies, and Grace College of Continuing Education.

On 3 October 2017 the university announced it would close at the end of the 2017/18 academic year. Enrolment drops led to deficit financing. In fall 2017 only 33 freshmen students enrolled, with 298 students for the 2017/18 year.

According to the Mennonite World Review, although Grace's Mennonite identity declined significantly in recent decades, Grace University influenced many Mennonite pastors and educators, especially in the former General Conference Mennonite Church. Historian Paul Toews wrote in Mennonites in American Society, 1930-1970 that Grace was intended as a school for General Conference Mennonites "of fundamentalist bent."


Grace University. "An Important Announcement from Grace University." Web. 3 October 2017.

Grace University. "Grace University History." Web. 15 April 2008.

Grace University. "Statistical Information." Web. 15 April 2008.

Huber, Tim. "Nebraska University with Mennonite Roots to Close." Mennonite World Review. Web. 12 October 2017.

Wikipedia. "Grace University." 22 March 2012. Web. 22 June 2012.

Additional Information

Presidents of Grace

President Years
Paul Kuhlmann (acting) 1943
Cornelius H. Suckau 1944-1950
Harold D. Burkholder 1950-1955
Joseph W. Schmidt 1955-1960
D. J. Unruh (interim) 1960-1961
Waldo E. Harder 1961-1971
Robert W. Benton 1971-1984
Warren E. Bathke 1984-1993
Neal F. McBride 1993-1997
James P. Eckman 1997-2012
David M. Barnes 2012-2016
Bill Bauhard (CEO) 2016-2018

Author(s) Harold D. Burkholder
Samuel J. Steiner
Date Published October 2017

Cite This Article

MLA style

Burkholder, Harold D. and Samuel J. Steiner. "Grace University (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2017. Web. 19 Apr 2024.,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=165771.

APA style

Burkholder, Harold D. and Samuel J. Steiner. (October 2017). Grace University (Omaha, Nebraska, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 April 2024, from,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=165771.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 559-560. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.