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, United States campuses, located in the state 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. The college remained closed from 1910-1913 due to a fire that destroyed the entire campus, until Missouri Baptists and area supporters helped it open again as a two-year junior college.
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.
When it reopened in 1913 as a junior college, Southwest Baptist College consisted of four buildings, three of which still stand on the Stufflebaum campus. This is what is referred to as the “old campus." Among the buildings still standing from the original Stufflebaum 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. 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.
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.
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 is located in this building.
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.
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, rock wall and is also the home of Bearcat Basketball.
Presidents listed in Chronological order-
Renovations: current and upcoming
These are the current and upcoming renovations at the Bolivar campus.
Redford College of Theology – (2007) There was a complete reconstruction of the building, including all classrooms and offices, heating and air, and new furniture. A new student lounge and current up-to-date technologies in the classrooms were also added.
Wheeler College of Science and Mathematics – (2007) Renovated Physical therapy wing, classrooms, and offices. Renovations included new paint, carpet and tile, and wallpaper.
Woody-Gott Dorm – (2007) Received new paint, new carpet, new locks, and card access at every entrance and new furniture. However, mold has since become a significant problem, covering multiple third-floor-Gott rooms and public showers, as well as the stairwell. The hallway of third-floor-Gott has been leaking since January. SBU has provided alternative housing only to those students living in the most contaminated rooms, while surface repairs are attempted. The roof of Gott has been tarred twice, once during January and once during February, but the hallway continues to leak. SBU's student newspaper, "The Omnibus," was recalled recently for attempting to run an article expressing this issue because it was stated that there was actually mold instead of "alleged mold." (2010) The mechanical and dehumidification systems have been completely replaced as well as building finishes as of fall 2010. There is no longer a mold issue.
Leslie Hall – (2007) There was work on the east wing, replacing carpet with tile, applying new paint, and cleaning the duct work. Currently the South Wing is the only section finished.
Goodson Student Union – (2007) Renovations of the restrooms.
The ice storm of January 2007 caused several problems for the buildings on campus. The physical plant consistently makes changes and adjustments to accommodate the living conditions for the students. These changes are as minor from changing light bulbs, to fixing heating and cooling units, to complete renovations of buildings.
Mabee Chapel - (2011) In December 2010 work began to renovate Mabee Chapel, including Pike Auditorium, the University Success Center, and classrooms. The work was completed and the Chapel was dedicated in the Spring of 2011. The work included adding more seats for Chapel services and other campus events held in Pike Auditorium.
In the 2008 spring semester, Southwest Baptist University will begin renovating three Bolivar campus buildings. The three main sites to be renovated are Hutchens Library, Pike Auditorium, and the swimming pool inside the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center. The Hutchens Library renovations will be made towards using the existing floor space on the second floor. Pike Auditorium renovations begin with the goal of accommodating more students, faculty, and staff. The Chapel currently holds 1150 people with the prospect of holding 1400-1500 people once a new balcony and new chairs are added. The swimming pool inside Meyer Wellness and Sports Center was not renovated when the new center was completed in 2004. The $15.5 million facility was constructed around the existing swimming pool, and with the exception of new pumps being installed, the pool has not received any renovations. Upon completion of renovations, the pool will have new humidity controllers and a new ceiling. Future projects are on the horizon at SBU, although it is too soon to know what and where these will take place.
Southwest Baptist University Colleges include:
Southwest Baptist University athletic teams, which compete in the NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). The university currently fields 14 sports including: