Clearwater Christian College began with a burden in the hearts of the founders concerning the trends in evangelical colleges away from biblical standards of morality and the historic biblical fundamentals. The founders perceived a growing casual attitude toward doctrine and lack of emphasis on personal soul-winning. They were burdened about the tendency of Christian colleges to drift toward the ecumenical movement, new evangelicalism, and ecumenical evangelism. 

A central figure in those early days was founder and first president Dr. Arthur E. Steele. Under his leadership and direction, the possibility of a Christian college on the west coast of Florida became reality in January, 1966, when Clearwater Christian College was officially incorporated in Pinellas County, Florida. The College acquired 50 waterfront acres at the eastern entrance to the city of Clearwater and began construction on campus buildings in early April. On September 17, 1966, the College opened with fifteen students. The Lord providentially supplied funds, friends, faculty, facilities, and a promising student body. The great enthusiasm and sense of expectancy during that first year has continued. 

As the College grew in those early days, the board of directors, administration, and faculty were persuaded to align with the possibility of regional accreditation. After much prayer and preparation, Clearwater Christian College received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in December, 1984, and this status continued until the college closed in 2015. This recognition by a secular, non-governmental agency signified the College’s commitment to basic educational standards, as compared with other accredited colleges and universities, without compromising its historic position on doctrinal issues or its high standards of personal conduct. In 1994, the College received approval for its teacher education program thereby making education graduates eligible for state certification. In 2008, the Florida Department of Education granted full approval for elementary education graduates to be certified with a reading endorsement. 

Steele Hall Under Construction

In January, 1987, the board of directors named Dr. George D. Youstra to succeed Dr. Arthur E. Steele. Dr. Youstra brought an extensive record of accomplishments in Christian education and government to his leadership role. During Dr. Youstra’s administration, the College enrollment grew significantly, new buildings were added, 88 additional acres were acquired, and new programs were offered. 

In May, 2002, Dr. Richard A. Stratton assumed the presidency. In addition to his heart’s desire to preach, Dr. Stratton brought to his position a wealth of experience in education and business. One of the major accomplishments during Dr. Stratton’s presidency was the establishment of the CCC Graduate Studies program. In December, 2007, CCC received approval from the Florida Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to grant the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. 

In May, 2012, Dr. John F. Klem succeeded Dr. Stratton in the presidency. Dr. Klem had extensive theological, pastoral, and administrative experience. It was his desire to see the College intricately connected to the Great Commission through the spiritual and educational training of men and women. 

The College’s position against doctrinal extremes and apostasy, and its commitment to the historic Christian faith did not change through the years, and the College family saw the Lord provide miraculously for the continuance of the ministry. Clearwater Christian College began in the will of the Lord through much prayer and continued to operate seeking His guidance, protection, and provision.

On June 4, 2015, after much prayer and with a genuine heaviness of heart, a unanimous vote was made to close the college.