In the early 1970s, Christian Church and Church of Christ ministers in Florida grew interested in establishing a Bible college. In 1975, Florida Christian College (originally named Central Florida Bible College) was chartered, a Board of Trustees was formed, and John P. Hasty (then president of Great Lakes Bible College) agreed to serve as the first president. The mission of the college clearly stated the school’s integral relationship with the Florida churches, and the college met in the facilities of First Christian Church, Orlando. In 1985, the Chapman family donated forty acres of land in Kissimmee and this became FCC’s permanent location. The college received full accreditation from the American Association of Bible Colleges (now the Association for Biblical Higher Education) in November 1985.
In the early years of the college, as support and enrollment grew, they embarked on a capital campaign to establish the permanent campus, and the college reaffirmed its identity as a Bible college with the motto “Strong in the Scriptures.” From 1975-2012, the college saw the succession of seven presidents and developed a dedicated faculty and staff. In addition to the Chapman Center, FCC expanded its facilities to include more student housing, the Tribble Student Union (1991), the Library (1994), and the Forest Brough Music Wing (1998). This expansion brought great financial challenges as church giving and donations declined. FCC found itself in an operational deficit, resulting in the loss of regional accreditation.
In December 2012, the Florida Christian College Board of Trustees asked the Johnson University Board of Trustees to acquire FCC, seeing Johnson’s intervention as the best hope to preserve its mission. Johnson University acquired FCC and established Johnson University Florida in 2013. From 2013-2015 Dr. Eubanks came out of retirement to serve as Chief Operating Officer of Johnson University Florida.
Dr. Michael Chambers, a beloved former faculty member, returned to serve as Chancellor of Johnson University Florida. New and expanded academic programs have been added, along with new faculty. The teacher education program received official licensure from the state of Florida, and leaders from both JU Florida and JU Tennessee have made efforts to reconnect with Florida area churches and expand alumni support of the school.
The largest physical campus change comes in 2018 with the addition of The Commons, which includes the Florida campus’s first-ever dining hall as well as special event space, a coffee shop, and a landscaped plaza and outdoor gathering area. This new space will foster the same community that has characterized Johnson University for over 125 years.