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CIU Board accepts resignation of Dr. Mark Smith over health issues; Christman named Interim President

The CIU Quad

February 14, 2023

The Columbia International University Board of Trustees has accepted the February 9th letter of resignation from Dr. Mark A. Smith as president of CIU prompted by Dr. Smith’s prolonged health issues.

In an email to faculty and staff, CIU Board Chairman Dr. Hans Finzel wrote, “We thank God for bringing Dr. Smith to us and for the energy he devoted to renewal and expansion of the university.”

CIU experienced record enrollments each year during Smith’s five years at the helm. When Dr. Smith began in 2017, CIU enrollment was just over 1,000 students. Today it has over 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students, many of them learning in growing online programs. Academic offerings expanded under Smith, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and an online RN to BSN program. Smith also improved CIU facilities, overseeing the building of the William H. Jones Center that houses the nursing program and the Cook School of Business. He also developed an Office of Spiritual Formation to keep students on track with CIU’s mission to “educate people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ.”

Dr. Rick Christman, who was named CIU’s acting president in December, will continue in that role. He now has the title Interim President.

“We have every confidence that our mission momentum will continue under his leadership,” Finzel wrote of Christman.

Prior to being named Interim President, Christman had been serving CIU as executive vice president for three years. He came to CIU from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee where he served as an academic dean and associate vice president for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. 

Meanwhile, The Board of Trustees is meeting in late April and is in the process of forming a search committee for CIU’s next president.

Dr. Finzel has requested prayer for God’s clearest direction as the board seeks the next leader. He also requests prayer for Dr. Smith, his wife Debbie, and his family as he continues to recover from a blood clot in his brain that led to brain surgery to remove the blood clot in November. He also asks for prayer for Dr. Christman as God leads him as he serves CIU and Ben Lippen School, CIU’s Pre-K to 12th grade Christian school.

Founded in 1923, Columbia International University is private, Christian and multidenominational. CIU specializes in Bible-centered professional development that prepares students to impact the nations with the message of Christ in ministry, missions and the marketplace. For 100 years, CIU has been recognized for its emphasis on biblical authority and world evangelization. 

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