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Our History

The Chicago Baptist Institute was founded in 1934, sponsored by the Chicago Baptist Association, the American Baptist Publication Society, the American Baptist Home Mission, and Black Baptist Pastors and Churches of Chicago. The Institute began its work in one room on the second floor of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company™ building, located at 35th Street and South Parkway, now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

The First Board

The first director of the institute was Reverend H. M. Smith. Officers of the Board of Trustees were:

Chairman, Reverend William S. Bradden
Vice-Chairman, Reverend I. A. Thomas
Secretary, Reverend J. C. Austin, Sr.
Treasurer, Reverend A. M. McDonald

Chicago Baptist Institute Building


From this humble beginning, the institute, under the academic leadership of Dean Leroy R. Mitchell, grew from fewer than 40 students to approximately 400. The work was arranged in three departments: the Leadership Training Department, the Missionary Training Department, and the Seminary. Later, a fourth department was added, which offered courses of study for the benefit of students with educational deficiencies.

Dean Leroy Mitchell served faithfully and effectively until his death in 1952. Assistant Dean, Dr. William A. Johnson, served as Interim Dean until the appointment of Reverend Robert C. Wallace in 1954. In 1957, the Institute purchased and moved to its own facility, located at 5120 S Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. After 19 years of progressive service, Dean Wallace retired. He was succeeded by Reverend Walter B. Hoard. Under Dean Hoard's administration, the institute's three major divisions became: Academy, Institute, and College, covering a wider educational spectrum and meeting the Illinois State Department of Education's guidelines.

New Developments

In 1977, a feeder system was established, feeding academically disadvantaged adult students into a program that would eventually lead to high school equivalency, two-year diploma, four-year college degree, and graduate study programs. Dr. William L Bransford, Pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church of Evanston, succeeded Dean Hoard as Academic Dean in 1980. Dr. J. Clifford Alford was appointed Dean of Students. Dean Alford served faithfully for more than 20 years. He was succeeded in 2002 by Dr. Nathan L. Schaffer, Jr.

Dean Bransford passed away in 1989. He was succeeded by Dr. C. V. Johnson Jr., Pastor of the El Bethel Baptist Church. After 17 years of faithful service, Dr. C. V. Johnson was succeeded by Dr. Lillie M. White Shaffer, who served as Interim Academic Dean from July 3, 2006, to March 16, 2007, at which time she was elected Academic Dean. Dr. Lillie M. White Shaffer, under the presidency of Dr. Clifford Tyler, revised and updated the programs of study. The three departments were re-arranged into four divisions: Biblical and Theological Studies; Pastoral Studies; Missions, Evangelism, and General Studies; and Christian Education and Developmental Studies. A non-degree program, consisting of two areas (Remedial and Certificate), was added. Also, the scheduling was changed from a quarter system to a semester system. Accreditation was attained with Accreditation Commission International (ACI); however, this accreditation did not meet government approval. Therefore, under the presidency of Dr. Tyler and the direction of Academic Dean Shaffer, the Institute pursued accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Applicant Status was granted in February of 2008. Consequently, the grouping of the courses of instruction was realigned to agree with that of most of the ABHE member institutions. The new grouping is: Division of Biblical-Theological Studies, Division of Professional Studies, and Division of General Studies.

More New Programs

Dr. Carolyn C. Walker succeeded Dr. Shaffer as Academic Dean on October 12, 2011. Under the capable leadership of Dr. Walker, several programs of study were introduced to Chicago Baptist Institute. Some of the new programs were college level and adult continuing education level. Saturday school special courses were also included into the curriculum. In addition, under Dr. Walker's leadership, the Institute's students were introduced to the Pastoral/Lay Life Experience Program and the Fast Track Program, just to name a few.

The Reverend J. W. Donahue, Pastor of Brotherly Love Baptist Church, became the first President of the Institute during the academic year 1980 to 1981. Following his death in 1981, Dr. William A. Johnson served as Interim President until the election of Dr. J. P. Tillman Sr. as the second President. President Tillman was called to eternal rest in 1995. Reverend T. L. LaNier served as Interim President until the election of Dr. Arthur D. Griffin as the third President on June 28, 1995. Dr. Griffin came from a strong ministry background. He assumed the office of President with a resolve to keep Chicago Baptist Institute on the leading edge of evangelization through the effective training of Christian leaders, thus revitalizing the work of the church.

The Nehemiah Project

In 2002, Dr. Clifford Tyler was appointed Vice-President for Promotions and Development. This appointment greatly enhanced the ministry of the institute. Under the leadership of President Griffin, the Chicago Baptist Institute's Nehemiah Project, coordinated by Rev. Andre LaNier, was completed in March of 2005 with the committed efforts of Chairman, Dr. Joseph B. Felker, President, Dr. Arthur D. Griffin, Vice-President, Dr. Clifford Tyler, Assistant Treasurer, Dr., Preston R. Winfrey, and Dr. Alvin J. Wesley (deceased).

As a result of the Nehemiah Project, the Institute's facility was completely renovated. After 10 years of dedicated and effective service, Dr. Griffin, due to failing health, resigned. He was succeeded on March 17, 2006, by Dr. Clifford Tyler, Pastor of First Timothy Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Preston R. Winfrey was appointed Vice President. Under Dr. Tyler's leadership, the institute continued to develop and implement progressive policies designed to meet a changing society. The non-degree program was enlarged and the number of general course offerings was expanded.

New Beginnings

Under the governance of a Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr. Joseph B. Felker (1996–2011) and the direction of President Clifford Tyler, Chicago Baptist Institute continued to work toward providing quality preparation of students which resulted in effective Christian service in the church and community. In September of 2011, Dr. Willie Wilson was appointed Chairman of the Trustee Board. Under the guidance of Dr. Willie Wilson, our school was named Chicago Baptist Institute International.

In addition, our school has come out of an enormous financial dilemma. Dr. Wilson has introduced our school to various organizations and ministries that have been instrumental in assisting us in our academic and Christian growth and exposure.

Mr. James Floyd was named the new President of Chicago Baptist Institute International. Moving onto higher educational ground, on May 29, 2013, Rev. Dr. John T. Gray was named President of Chicago Baptist Institute International. On September 30, 2013, Dr. Joseph Henry was appointed Academic Dean.