Our History

Our Start

Crowley’s Ridge College opened its doors on July 6, 1964, as a Christian junior college in Paragould, Arkansas, near the crest of Crowley’s Ridge. The scenic campus covers 150 acres of rolling hills densely populated by pine and hardwood trees. While the college is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, students of all religious backgrounds are welcome at Crowley’s Ridge College.

CRC’s founder, Dr. Emmett Floyd Smith Jr. (honoris causa), had a strong desire to bring college-level Christian education to northeast Arkansas. Eleven years earlier, in 1953, Smith had established a Christian secondary school, Crowley’s Ridge Academy, and found that there was support for other Christian endeavors such as the Children’s Homes of Paragould and Crowley’s Ridge College. Governor Orval Faubus helped turn the first shovel of dirt on January 29, 1964, at CRC’s groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction of the campus.

Seven presidents have served Crowley’s Ridge College: Emmett Smith, 1964-1973; Albert Lemmons, 1973-1975; Joe K. Alley, 1979-1982; Larry M. Bills, 1987-2001; Arvil Hill, 2001-2002, and Ken Hoppe, 2003–2019.

Dr. Richard Johnson began his service as President on January 1, 2020.

Dr. Emmett Floyd Smith Jr.
Founder of Crowley’s Ridge College

Study Here

CRC offered a new concept of Christian education as an “accelerated institution of higher education.” Under this program, it was possible to earn sixty-four semester hours within a forty-eight-week period, thereby completing the associate of arts degree in one calendar year. Through the accelerated program, CRC was able to pass the savings in time and money on to the student and his or her family. One major roadblock to the accelerated system was the transfer of credits to senior colleges. 

While it was an innovative program, it became more difficult to gain the approval of people who had spent a lifetime working in conventional programs. Of the eighty enrolling in the first class, eighteen completed the associate’s degree for the first commencement exercise on June 18, 1965. In 1974, CRC began moving away from the accelerated study to a conventional trimester academic calendar, changing to the present semester system permanently in the fall of 1981.


In 1995, CRC received initial candidacy by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), now the Higher Learning Commission. The NCA visiting team of 1998 recommended continued candidacy. On August 7, 2000, the commission granted full accreditation to CRC.

In 2005, CRC was granted a ten-year extension (the most any college or university can receive) through 2015. In 2015, CRC was reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission, through 2025. In 2020, CRC was also granted national accreditation for its education program from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), one of the nation’s premier education program accreditors. 

Academic Programs

CRC offers degrees in Arts and Sciences, Biblical Studies, Business, and Teacher Education. CRC’s enrollment as of September 2023 was 225. Many continue their education at either the local state colleges or one of CRC’s sister senior institutions among the Churches of Christ.

Athletic Excellence

The sports programs at CRC have always drawn interest from prospective students. The Pioneers competed through the years in the SCAC, NJCAA, NBCAA, ACCA, NCCAA, and in 2016 joined the NAIA where they currently compete in the Continental Athletic Conference. 

Women compete in volleyball, basketball, and softball, while men compete in baseball, basketball, and golf. The volleyball program won the NBCAA National Championship in 1996.  Men’s basketball made it to the NCCAA national tournament in 2015 and the NAIA national tournament in 2020. Women’s basketball competed in the NAIA National tournament in 2021.