COLUMBIA, S.C. — Students and faculty lined International Boulevard Wednesday morning as Columbia International University's year-long 100th anniversary celebration proceeded. Flags from 160 countries very paraded down the campus's main street while on-lookers cheered. This is just the beginning of celebrations that are expected to last for the next 12 months.
The school, which was founded in 1923 as 'Columbia Bible College,' is home to over 2,000 students and 24,000 alumni, according to the university.
Dr. Ricky Christman is the Executive Vice President of CIU. He says the school's mission is to spread the Gospel while serving their community. "Our students are able to go into the community and do service projects but we also shut the university down in the spring and we bring in people from the community and we organize projects and we spend the entire day working throughout Columbia."
Part of that local impact is seen at Crossover Global, an international organization that sits across the street from CIU. Ken Katayama is the president and CEO where he says five employees, including himself, are CIU grads. He spoke about the relationship with the school.
"That relationship just continues to grow, there's a lot of synergy of work, not only with with the school allowing us to spend time there with the students and hang out with them," Katayama said. "We also get the chance to sometimes open our offices for some special classes that they have or sometimes a small class."
Down the road, Ruth Wolfe has lived next to CIU since the 1970s. She says students will occasionally come down to her house and volunteer to clean up the area. There is even an agreement between her and the school, she says. that her property will be sold to the university once she moves away.
"We have just so enjoyed what the Bible college has stood for," Wolfe said. "Out of the six children we have, five graduated from CIU, probably four are in ministry today so it has had a big impact on our personal lives as well."
Alex Brickey is the student body president. He told News19 his vision for the future of Columbia International University.
"Lord willing, I hope to see our nursing program fully developed and to a full blown medical mission, training and development center," Brickley said. "I also hope to see more missionaries come through CIU and a continued heritage of CIU sending out missionaries."
A full list of the 100th year celebration events can be found here.