Southwest Baptist University

Southwest Baptist University
Former name
Southwest Baptist College
Type Private
Established 1878 (1878)
Religious affiliation
Missouri Baptist Convention
Academic affiliation
President C. Pat Taylor
Provost Allison Langford (interim)
Students 3,470 (Fall 2014)
Undergraduates 2,570
Postgraduates 900
Location Bolivar, Missouri, U.S.
37°36′07″N 93°24′33″W / 37.60186°N 93.40911°W / 37.60186; -93.40911Coordinates: 37°36′07″N 93°24′33″W / 37.60186°N 93.40911°W / 37.60186; -93.40911
Campus 152 acres (61.5 ha)
Colors Purple and White
Nickname Bearcats
Sporting affiliations
GLVC (football only)

Southwest Baptist University (SBU) is a private institute of higher education affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2003 there were approximately 3,600 students attending at one of SBU's four Missouri campuses, located in the towns of Bolivar, Mountain View, Salem and Springfield.


Abner S. Ingman and James R. Maupin founded Southwest Baptist College in 1878 in Lebanon, Missouri. 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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

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 Mercy College of Nursing.

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 theatre and the Bob R. Derryberry School of Communication Arts.

The most recent addition to the Shoffner campus is the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness 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 of SBU

Presidents listed in chronological order.[5]

  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–present)


Southwest Baptist University Colleges include:



Southwest Baptist University athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), except for football, which competes in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). The university currently fields 16 sports.


Notable alumni


  1. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 78)
  2. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 274)
  3. Hamlett, Mayme (1984). To Noonday Bright: A History of Southwest Baptist University . Bolivar, MO: Southwest Baptist University. (p. 275)
  4. C. Taylor, Personal Communication, January 10, 2008.
  5. (portrait list of presidents on display at Harriett K. Hutchens Library in the Jester Learning and Performance Center, Shoffner campus, Bolivar, MO.)
  6. "Benjamin Marcus Bogard (1868–1951)". Retrieved August 4, 2013.
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