Lubbock Christian University, on the western side of Lubbock, is an independent, fully accredited, private, senior institution of higher learning. It emphasizes academic quality in a Christian environment and offers more than thirty undergraduate and five graduate degrees, including preprofessional programs in medicine, law, dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Cross-enrollment agreements with Texas Tech University in Lubbock enable students to be enrolled in both schools concurrently. LCU began as a kindergarten in 1954 at the Broadway Church of Christ in downtown Lubbock. After the church had established a Bible chair at Texas Tech, it decided to establish a Christian college from the ground up by adding a grade a year through the college level. M. Norvel Young, the minister of the Broadway church, accelerated the plan by urging the Broadway elders to serve as the first board of trustees and to establish a junior college to begin in the fall of 1957. The board of trustees consisted of Paul Sherrod, J. C. Rigney, J. Don Baldridge, J. B. McCorkle, and W. T. Rogers, all prominent business and professional men in Lubbock. The board selected F. W. Mattox president, Jack Bates academic dean, Herman Wilson registrar, and Hugh Rhodes athletic director.
Lubbock Christian College opened as a junior college on September 24, 1957. Classes were conducted in several surplus military barracks that had been purchased and moved from air force bases in Lubbock and Clovis, New Mexico. The first semester 115 students enrolled. In 1972, on the fifteenth anniversary of the college, the school graduated its first senior class. In 1987, on its thirtieth anniversary, it became a university. The physical plant has expanded to twelve permanent brick buildings and several metal buildings. All the surplus military barracks have vanished from campus. One of the metal buildings houses the LCU Institute of Water Research, a scientific and agricultural project that investigates uses of the effluent water from the city of Lubbock. In 1974 the Environmental Protection Agency granted $10 million to the university to recover and use Lubbock's sewage water. The university irrigates its own 4,000-acre farm near Wilson, Texas, and studies the effects of the use of the water on the soil, on crops, and on people. The project benefits the city of Lubbock, serves as a model for other cities in handling their effluent water, and helps finance the operation of the university. The LCU athletic fieldhouse is a former hangar that was used by the Atomic Energy Commission in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during the development of the atomic bomb. The LCU athletic director took eighteen students to Los Alamos and spent a summer disassembling the hangar and hauling it to Lubbock, in more than 150 truckloads. LCU bought the hangar from military surplus for $1,700 but spent about $200,000 to reassemble it. The fieldhouse is large enough for an oval indoor track with a 100-yard straightaway. The track encircles three basketball courts.
The university is funded by tuition and gifts of hundreds of friends, businesses, and foundations. Several multimillion-dollar gifts have come from the Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and from Ilene and Gene Hancock of Lubbock. The university primarily enrolls members of the Church of Christ in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, though students from many states and foreign countries and from a variety of religions attend. Lubbock Christian University had 1,353 students in the fall of 1998. L. Ken Jones was the president.