About RU

Rochester University is an accredited liberal arts educational institution firmly grounded in the teachings of Jesus. The university offers 22 bachelor’s degree majors in traditional and accelerated learning formats, and a master’s degree in missional leadership. Educational programs in areas such as business, computer science, education, mass communication, ministry, nursing and psychology prepare students for productive careers while emphasizing Christian values and integrity.

Located on a tranquil campus in one of America’s safest communities, Rochester University also shines on athletic fields. With 20 men’s and women’s athletic teams, the university competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Wolverine–Hoosier Athletic Conference. Throughout the university’s history, several teams have won small-college national championships.

The university affirms its commitment to a holistic education that offers unique opportunities for faculty-student mentoring. The institution promotes an inclusive learning experience by welcoming students from all backgrounds, regions of the United States and foreign countries. Students, faculty and staff interact to create a healthy environment of mutual respect where every individual is heard, welcomed and respected.

Rochester University History

In 1954, members of Churches of Christ formed a Board of Trustees to establish an educational institution in the North Central region of the United States. In the initial college catalog, the institution’s leaders affirmed their dedication “to the task of leading students toward higher academic achievement.” The founders also stated their belief “that the development of Christian ideals in the life of an individual is highly important.” Leaders of Rochester University remain firmly committed to those ideals.

The college opened in 1959 as North Central Christian College and became Michigan Christian Junior College in 1961. The board dropped “Junior” from the institution’s name in 1978 as the college prepared for the addition of its first bachelor’s degree program. The name was changed from Michigan Christian College to Rochester College in 1997. That change signaled a broadening of the college’s vision as a liberal arts Christian college. The institution became Rochester University in 2019.

The values-based and values-driven curriculum of the university provides a great educational experience in today’s culture. Men and women educated at Rochester University embrace challenge, apply problem-solving skills, serve their communities and provide leadership for challenges yet to come.

Institutional Archive

Rochester University maintains an archive of institutional publications, photographs and artifacts. In addition to the actual collection housed on campus, an online collection includes selected items for public use and viewing. The online site features over 800 publications and photos dating back to the 1950s.

Anniversary History Book

During it’s 50th anniversary, the university published “The Seasons of Rochester College” to trace the institution’s history from the founding of the board in 1957 though the 2008 celebration. The book is still available in printed form by contacting Larry Stewart at You may also view the book through the following links.


Rochester University is built upon a firm foundation laid by hundreds of individuals over the past six decades. Certain events stand out as historical milestones in the university’s progress.

Milestones if_right_arrow_476325_white


  • Board formed to establish a Christian school in the North Central region
  • Board organizes as the North Central Christian College Foundation


  • Search process for a president initiated by the board
  • Maxon estate in Rochester selected as a campus site
  • First of several open houses conducted on the newly acquired property


  • Series of rallies for teenagers conducted on the future campus
  • Otis Gatewood named president of the college at the first lectureship
  • Lucien Palmer named dean at a rally in Detroit’s new Ford Auditorium
  • Ground broken for first new facility, the Multi-Purpose Building


  • Rally at State Fair Coliseum with Pat Boone attracts over 8,500 guests
  • Associates formed to raise funds for the college
  • North Central Christian College welcomes first students


  • First addition to greenhouse completed for science classroom
  • Palmer Hall completed


  • Institutional name changed to Michigan Christian Junior College
  • Second addition to Science Building completed for classroom space
  • Barbier Hall completed
  • Men’s Club organized to raise funds for the college
  • Cafetorium completed for use as a cafeteria and auditorium


  • Third addition to Science Building completed for a biology laboratory


  • First Homecoming held in conjunction with the Valentine Banquet
  • Gymnasium completed
  • State accreditation achieved


  • Gold Room completed
  • Lucien Palmer named second president of the college
  • Alumni Association formed
  • Gierok farm purchased to provide 54 acres for future growth of the college


  • Muirhead Center completed for student center, library, and classrooms


  • Addition to Multi-Purpose Building completed for the bookstore


  • Candidate status achieved with the North Central Association
  • First conference title won by men’s basketball team


  • Men’s baseball added to intercollegiate sports program
  • Alma Gatewood Residence Hall completed


  • Don Gardner named third president of the college


  • Partnership Dinner organized to meet annual payments on Gatewood Hall


  • Autumn formed to assist with student recruitment efforts


  • College accredited by the North Central Association


  • Over 300 students enrolled for the first time in college history


  • Barbier Hall updated and Palmer Hall totally renovated with suites


  • Millionth dollar donated to the college by the Associates
  • Celebration in Song introduced as an annual showcase of student talent
  • Third year of coursework added to the Bible program
  • Associate in Applied Science introduced for technical degree options


  • Westside Central Chapel and original Utley Student Center completed
  • Walt Gilfilen named fourth president of the college
  • Bachelor of Religious Education degree approved by state
  • Institutional name officially changed to Michigan Christian College


  • Lobby, restrooms, and locker rooms added to gymnasium
  • New campus master plan unveiled


  • Milton Fletcher named fifth president of the college
  • Bachelor of Religious Education approved by North Central Association


  • Women’s softball team organized
  • Autumn restructured to perform contemporary Christian music


  • Wang VS-80 computer system purchased for campus-wide use


  • Gatehouse renovated for use as the Homemaking House
  • Computer and Office Systems labs opened in Campus Center
  • Silver Anniversary celebration launched during the fall semester
  • Business programs added at the associate degree level


  • Company formed to assist student recruitment efforts
  • City charter approved and college’s hometown becomes Rochester Hills


  • Women’s volleyball added to the intercollegiate sports program


  • Third year of course work added to the business program
  • Women’s basketball team organized
  • Men’s soccer team organized
  • Second millionth dollar donated to the college by the Associates


  • First national championship captured by the men’s basketball team
  • First online database added to resources available in the Muirhead Library
  • Counseling major added to Bachelor of Religious Education program
  • First national title earned by the cross country team


  • Preschool opened by the college in new church facility next to campus
  • Second national title earned by men’s cross country team


  • Ken Johnson named sixth president of the college


  • Music Center renovated by alumni volunteers


  • Bachelor of Business Administration degree approved by NCA
  • Third millionth dollar raised by the Associates


  • Warrior Cafe opened in lower level of former Utley Student Center
  • Second national title captured by men’s basketball team


  • Campus connected to the Internet


  • Bachelor of Science degree approved by the state and NCA
  • First national title earned by men’s soccer team


  • Institutional name changed to Rochester College
  • Weekend College introduced for working adults
  • Ferndale Hall, Hoggatt Hall, and Dearborn Commons completed
  • College web site launched


  • First national title earned by women’s volleyball team


  • Satellite campus established at the Macomb University Center
  • Over 500 students enrolled for the first time
  • Second national title earned by women’s volleyball team


  • Barbier Hall renovated and equipped with modular furniture
  • Satellite campus established at the Mott University Center


  • Isom Atrium and Associates Plaza completed
  • GEO international studies program launched with a study tour in Scotland


  • Bachelor of Arts degree approved by state and North Central Association
  • Ham Library completed
  • Bookstore moved to a new location in the Utley Center


  • Satellite campus established at Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts
  • Michael Westerfield named interim (later elected) president of the college
  • Over 1,000 students enrolled for the first time


  • Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) opened
  • Former library building renovated and rededicated as Muirhead Center
  • Third national championship captured by men’s basketball team
  • Richardson Center completed


  • Fourth national championship captured by men’s basketball team
  • Planned unit development agreement signed with the city of Rochester Hills
  • Master of Religious Education approved by North Central Association


  • College authorized by state to recommend teachers for certification
  • Second national title earned by men’s soccer team


  • Men’s and women’s golf added to intercollegiate sports roster


  • Rubel Shelly named interim (later elected) president of the college
  • 50th Anniversary celebration launched during the fall semester


  • Integrated Learning Program introduced
  • Portion of Gallaher Center restored for Campus Store


  • College accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
  • National championship captured by women’s softball team
  • Nursing program approved by Michigan Board of Nursing
  • Kibo Corner opened in Utley-McCauley Student Center


  • College of Nursing accredited by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education


  • Fifth national championship captured by men’s basketball team
  • Fourth millionth dollar raised by the Associates
  • John Tyson named president of the college
  • Men’s ACHA hockey added to sports program


  • Master plan developed for Lake Norcentra Park
  • First online degree program introduced


  • Center for Social Entrepreneurship launched
  • Fletcher Center renovated


  • College awarded Director’s Cup as USCAA sports program of year
  • Brian Stogner named interim (later elected) president of the college
  • Alumni Chorus formed
  • College accepted in Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference of NAIA


  • Garth Pleasant Arena completed
  • Warrior Center renovated for recreation center
  • Fountains, mural, new lighting, and signage added in Lake Norcentra Park


  • National championships captured by men’s and women’s basketball teams
  • Deck and gazebos constructed in Lake Norcentra Park
  • Campus landscaping improved and Gallaher Center patio restored


  • Slater Montgomery Family Chapel completed in Lake Norcentra Park
  • Original gymnasium renovated
  • Institutional name changed to Rochester University