Southwest Baptist University
Sbu seal.png
Established1878 (1878)
Religious affiliationMissouri Baptist Convention
Academic affiliationCCCU
PresidentEric A. Turner
ProvostLee Skinkle
Students3,592 (Fall 2017)
LocationBolivar, Missouri, United States
37°36′07″N 93°24′33″W / 37.60186, -93.40911
Campus152 acres (61.5 ha)
ColorsPurple and White
Template:College color boxes

Southwest Baptist University (SBU) is a private Baptist university in Bolivar, Missouri. It is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2017, it had a total enrollment of 3,592 students[1] attending at one of SBU's four Missouri campuses in Bolivar, Mountain View, Salem, or Springfield.[2]


Abner S. Ingman and James R. Maupin founded Southwest Baptist College in 1878 in Lebanon, Missouri.[3] The Lebanon campus originally had an enrollment of 60 students and six faculty. The college lasted one year before the city decided they no longer wanted it. When news got out that the college would be moving, the communities of Aurora, Monett, and Bolivar in southwest Missouri attempted to attract the college. In 1879, the state of Missouri chartered the school and it moved to Bolivar, Missouri. The college went through many financial difficulties in the early part of the twentieth century.

On June 1, 1910, at 11:00 am., the fire that would destroy the campus started. The fire broke out under suspect circumstances, leading some to believe arson was the cause. Bolivar citizen firefighters tried to put out the fire, but the water supply ran dry and at 2:00 pm the fire engulfed the whole campus. Losses were estimated at $20,000. The college was rebuilt, and reopened in 1913.[4]

Campus history

When it reopened in 1913 as a junior college, Southwest Baptist College consisted of four buildings, three of which still stand on the Stufflebam campus. Among the buildings still standing from the original Stufflebam campus are Casebolt Apartments (formerly Casebolt Science Building), Memorial Hall, Maupin Hall and Ingman Hall.

On March 26, 1962, a fire destroyed Pike Auditorium. Students and townspeople saved eight pianos and almost all of the sports equipment from the locker rooms of the multipurpose building at that time. Pike Auditorium was the only building destroyed by the fire.[5] The fire became a turning point in the history of Southwest Baptist. The newly elected president, Dr. Robert E. Craig, used the event to stimulate the buying of 102 acres (41.3 ha) of farmland south of Bolivar. This farmland expanded into the Shoffner Campus on which Southwest Baptist University resides today.[6]

The Shoffner campus, located approximately a quarter-mile south of Stufflebaum campus, was started in 1962 with the opening of Beasley Hall. Within ten years, Landen Hall (formerly New Men's Dorm), Leslie Hall, Goodson Student Union, and the Wayne and Betty Gott Educational Center (formerly the campus library) were opened. In 1977, Mellers Dining Commons was opened, adjoining Goodson Student Union.[7]

In 1981, the Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center was opened to facilitate the College of Business and Computer Science. This was the same year in which Southwest Baptist College became Southwest Baptist University. In 1989, the Sells Administrative Building was completed to accommodate the growing administrative department of Southwest Baptist University.

In 1992, the Wheeler Science Center opened, giving the science department a facility capable of housing hundreds of students. The school of Physical Therapy was located in this building, until it moved to a nearby, offsite location.

In 1995, SBU agreed with St. John's School of Nursing, a traditionally Catholic institution, to form St. John's School of Nursing of Southwest Baptist University located in Springfield, Missouri. It has since been renamed the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of Southwest Baptist University.[8]

The Wayne and Betty Gott Educational Center was renovated in 1998 to accommodate classroom needs. The campus library moved to what is now the Jester Learning and Performance Center, and was renamed the Harriet K. Hutchens Library, which opened in 1996. The rest of the Jester Learning and Performance Center was completed in 2001. It currently houses the Davis-Newport Theater, the Department of Language and Literature, the Department of Art and the Bob R. Derryberry School of Communication Arts.

The most recent addition to the Shoffner campus is the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center. It opened to students in January 2005. This facility houses an indoor track, intramural gym, fitness center, pool, café, racquetball courts, rock wall, and Hammons Court, the home of Bearcat Basketball.


Presidents listed in chronological order.[9]

  1. James R. Maupin (1878–1884)
  2. Abner S. Ingman (1884–1886)
  3. Julius M. Leavitt (1886–1889)
  4. W. H. Burnham (1889–1892)
  5. Robert E. L. Burks (1892–1895)
  6. Asa Bush (1895–1897)
  7. James R. Rice (1897–1899)
  8. Ernest W. Dow (1903–1905)
  9. Joseph Rucker (1905–1908)
  10. J. E. Austin (1908–1913)
  11. Charles W. Fisher (1913–1915)
  12. B. W. Wiseman (1915–1916)
  13. John C. Pike (1916–1928)
  14. John W. Jent (1928–1930)
  15. Courts Redford (1930–1943)
  16. Samuel H. Jones (1943–1948)
  17. John W. Dowdy (1949–1960)
  18. Robert E. Craig (1961–1967)
  19. James L. Sells (1968–1979)
  20. Harlan E. Spurgeon (1979–1983)
  21. Charles L. Chaney (1983–1986)
  22. J. Edwin Hewlett, Jr. (1989–1990)
  23. Wayne Gott (Interim) (1991–1992)
  24. Roy Blunt (1993–1996)
  25. C. Pat Taylor (1996–2018)
  26. Eric A. Turner (2018–present)


Southwest Baptist University Colleges include:

  • Robert W. Plaster College of Business and Computer Science
  • Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry
  • College of Education and Social Sciences
  • Geneva Casebolt College of Music, Arts and Letters
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences[10]


  • Casebolt Music Center and Casebolt Apartments – named after Geneva Casebolt, a beneficiary who gave a large endowment for the buildings.
  • Davis Family Physical Therapy Center - houses the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
  • Felix Goodson Student Union – named after a former Dean of Students.
  • Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center – named in honor of former Missouri Congressman Gene Taylor.
  • Hammons Center for Facilities Excellence – named after Dwain Hammons and his wife, Donna, who gifted SBU with the property this building is located.
  • Harriett K. Hutchens Library – named in honor of Harriett K. Hutchens, who gave a generous donation.
  • Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center/ Meyer Hall – named in honor of the Meyers who were beneficiaries for this and other projects.
  • Jester Learning and Performance Center – named in honor of Bill Jester who stepped in after the project had to be reorganized after the passing of Sam Walton.
  • Jim Mellers Center – Donor in 1980s who owned a photography shop and later received a patent for a photography related idea.
  • Killian Health Center – named in honor of Bob and Betty Killian, owners of Killian Construction Company.
  • Mabee Chapel – named after the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.
  • Marietta Mellers Dining Commons – named in honor of the wife of Jim Mellers.
  • McClelland Dining Facility - capable of hosting banquets and conferences.
  • Plaster Athletic Center/ Plaster Stadium/ Plaster Hall – named in honor of beneficiary Robert W. Plaster.
  • Randolph Meditation Chapel - open 24 hours a day.
  • Jim Sells Administrative Center – named in honor of Jim Sells who served as president for 11 years. (1968–1979)
  • Wayne and Betty Gott Educational Center/ Gott Hall – Wayne and Betty Gott are two of the largest donors to SBU.
  • Wheeler Science Center – named in honor of Clarence Wheeler who gave a large donation for the building and scholarships.
  • Beasley Hall – named in honor of Dr. Titus Beasley who gave the lead gift for this hall.
  • Landen Hall – named in honor of Edward and Daisy Landen for "devotion to their church, the Southern Baptist Convention and to Christian higher education"
  • Leslie Hall
  • Maupin Hall – named in honor of the first President James R. Maupin (1878–1884).
  • Memorial Hall – named in honor of the ten students from SBU who served in World War II.
  • Roseman Apartments – named in honor of the Roseman family who previously owned the complex.
  • Woody Hall – named in honor of Jessie Lee Woody, a donor towards the project.


Southwest Baptist University athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). SBU previously competed in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) until in the spring of 2019 and will begin regular season competition for all sports in the GLVC beginning in the 2019-20 season.[11] The university currently fields 18 NCAA Division II varsity sports. SBU was also one of the first schools to establish a varsity collegiate esports team and is a charter member of the Collegiate Esports Association (CESPA[12]). SBU added a Cheer and STUNT team beginning in the 2018-19 season.[13]

Notable alumni


  1. "Facts and Standards | Key Stats | Southwest Baptist University" (in en).
  2. "SBU Campus Locations | Maps and Directions" (in en).
  3. "History of Southwest Baptist University | SBU Legacy and Heritage" (in en).
  4. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 78)
  5. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 274)
  6. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 275)
  7. C. Taylor, Personal Communication, January 10, 2008.
  8. "College of Nursing and Health Sciences | Southwest Baptist University" (in en).
  9. (portrait list of presidents on display at Harriett K. Hutchens Library in the Jester Learning and Performance Center, Shoffner campus, Bolivar, MO.)
  10. "Academic Colleges | Southwest Baptist University" (in en).
  11. "Great Lakes Valley Conference Admits Southwest Baptist University as Full-Time Member" (in en).
  12. "SBU Launches Varsity eSports Program for Fall 2016" (in en).
  13. "Southwest Baptist University Adding STUNT As a Sport in 2018-19" (in en).
  14. "Benjamin Marcus Bogard (1868–1951)". Retrieved August 4, 2013.

External links

Template:Southwest Baptist University

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