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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 campuses in Bolivarmarker, Mountain Viewmarker, Salemmarker, and Springfieldmarker, Missourimarker.


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 Auroro, 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.

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 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 of farmland south of Bolivar. This farmland expanded into the Shoffner Campus on which Southwest Baptist University presides 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, adjoined to 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, Missourimarker.

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 of SBU

Presidents listed in Chronological order-
  • James R. Maupin (1878-1884)
  • Abner S. Ingman (1884-1886)
  • Julius M. Leavitt (1886-1889)
  • W. H. Burnham (1889-1892)
  • Robert E. L. Burks (1892-1895)
  • Asa Bush (1895-1897)
  • James R. Rice (1897-1899)
  • Ernest W. Dow (1903-1905)
  • Joseph Rucker (1905-1908)
  • J. E. Austin (1908-1913)
  • Charles W. Fisher (1913-1915)
  • B. W. Wiseman (1915-1916)
  • John C. Pike (1916-1928)
  • John W. Jent (1928-1930)
  • Courts Redford (1930-1943)
  • Samuel H. Jones (1943-1948)
  • John W. Dowdy (1949-1960)
  • Robert E. Craig (1961-1967)
  • James L. Sells (1968-1979)
  • Harlan E. Spurgeon (1979-1983)
  • Charles L. Chaney (1983-1986)
  • J. Edwin Hewlett, Jr. (1989-1990)
  • Wayne Gott (interim) (1991-1992)
  • Roy Blunt (1993-1996)
  • C. Pat Taylor (1996)-current president

Buildings named in honor of...

  • Casebolt Music Center and Casebolt apartments- named after Geneva Casebolt, a beneficiary who gave a large endowment for the buildings.

  • Felix Goodson Student Union- named after a former Dean of Students.

  • Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center - named in honor of former Missouri Congressmen Gene Taylor

  • Hammons Center for Facilities Excellence- named after Dwayne Hammons and his wife 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 1980’s 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.

  • Mellers Dining Commons- named in honor of Marietta Mellers, the wife of Jim Mellers.

  • Plaster Athletic Center/ Plaster Stadium/ Plaster Hall- named in honor of beneficiary Robert W. Plaster.

  • 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. Beasley who gave the lead gift for this hall.

  • Landen Hall- a beneficiary and donor (full name unknown).

  • 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.

Renovations: current and upcoming

These are the current and upcoming renovations at the Bolivar campus.

Current renovations

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.

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 make changes and adjustments to accommodate the living condition for the students. These changes are as minor from changing light bulbs, to fixing heating and cooling units, to complete renovations of buildings.

Upcoming renovations

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.

Mission statement

Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant-leaders in a global society.

Vision statement

Southwest Baptist University fulfills its mission with specific care to guard its Christian distinctives and Baptist heritage as it demonstrates continuous improvement, enlarges its ministry through consistent growth in student enrollment, retention, and ethnic and racial diversity, markets the institution and its mission regionally and nationally, fosters an environment of open communication and service to others, and cares for employees through competitive compensation and benefits packages.

Core values

In fulfilling the University's mission and vision through its strategic planning process, Southwest Baptist University is committed to the following core values: Christian Distinctiveness, Baptist Heritage, Compassion and Care for SBU Family, Academic Excellence, Social and Spiritual Development, Personal Wellness.


Southwest Baptist University Colleges include:

  • College of Business and Computer Science
  • Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry
  • Lewis E. Schollian College of Education and Social Sciences
  • Geneva Casebolt College of Music, Arts and Letters
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • St. John's College of Nursing and Health Services


Southwest Baptist University athletic teams, which compete in the NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, include:

Men's sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country/Track
  • Football (will play as an independent starting in 2008; new MIAA member Nebraska-Omahamarker will replace SBU on the conference football schedule.)
  • Golf
  • Tennis

The Southwest Baptist Men's Club Soccer team competes in the Mid-America Collegiate Soccer League against teams in Missouri and Kansas. Winning the league or earning a wild card spot allows the opportunity to compete in the NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sports Association) Region IV tournament against teams from the Oklahoma Collegiate Club Soccer League. The winner of the Region IV tournament goes on to compete in the NIRSA national tournament against teams from all over the country. In 2007 the National Champion came from the MACSL: The University of Missouri-Columbia.

Women's sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country/Track
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

Athletic facilities


Plaster Stadium, is the home of the SBU Bearcat football team. The stadium was completed in 1985 and named in respect to Robert W. Plaster for his significant contribution towards the facility. Plaster is a businessman from Lebanon, Missouri. Some renovations include the field being re-turfed in 1988 and lights being installed in 1998..

Robert W. Plaster Athletic Center, holds the football coaching staff offices, athletic meeting rooms, athletic training room, banquet room, weight room, and football locker room. Also, the athletic center provides an outside balcony for guest to watch a SBU football game. The facility was completed in 2001 from the major contribution of Robert W. Plaster.

Men and women's cross-country/track

Orlin B. Stewart Track, The track is used by the Bearcat cross-country/track, other athletic teams for physical training, SBU students, and members of the community. The 400 meter track is composed of eight lanes and a polyurethane surface. The track is named in honor Orlin B. Stewart. Stewart taught and coached at SBU for 38 years and the athletic director from 1956-1957. *Note: Orlin B. Stewart Track is not used for intercollegiate track meets. The track itself is in a state of disrepair and is not suitable for competition.

Men and women's basketball/volleyball

Jane and Ken Meyer Sports and Wellness Center, is home of the Bearcat men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and volleyball teams. The facility was built in 2004. The Sports Arena holds seating for 2,800 fans. The court is named in honor of Springfield, Mo businessman John Q. Hammons. The center houses Intramural Basketball and Volleyball Courts, Natatorium, Fitness Room, Weight Room, Indoor Walking or Jogging Track, Racquetball Courts, Rock Climbing Wall, Sports Café, Aerobic Room, Health and Physical Education Classrooms, Faculty and Athletic Offices, Athletic Training Room, and Citizen’s Memorial Hospital Sports Medicine Clinic. Jane and Ken Meyer were the major contributors towards Sports and Wellness Center Project.
The Natatorium is used for swimming classes, aquatic exercises, scuba classes, and for recreational use by SBU students, faculty, and staff. The Natatorium was funded by student activity fees and built in 1985. The Olympic size pool holds six lanes and has a one-meter diving board.

Men and women's tennis

John A. Bryant Tennis Center, is where the SBU men’s and women’s tennis teams compete. The Center was completed in 2000 and is composed of six side by side courts. Since the new facility opened SBU has hosted three NCAA Tournaments. Also, the courts are open to SBU students, faculty, staff, and the Bolivar community. The Center is named in admiration for John A. Bryant’s long time service to SBU Tennis program.


Dodson Field, is home of the Bearcat baseball team. The field was renovated in 2005 with new dugouts, new netting behind home plate, and concrete walls between the dugouts. Dodson field provides large dugouts, a grass infield, and Major League field dimensions. The field is named after James W. Dodson.

Virginia R. Heer Facility, offers rest rooms, concessions, and dressing rooms for the baseball, softball, soccer and intramural fields.


SBU Softball Field, is where the SBU softball team play their home games. The field received some renovations in 2005 to improve the playing surface.


SBU Soccer Field, is where the Women’s soccer team hosts their opponents. The field is adjacent to Dodson Field and the SBU softball field. In 2003, overhangs for the benches were built on the south side of the field and a new scoreboard was constructed.

Academic and Professional Organizations

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. C. Taylor, Personal Communication, January 10, 2008
  6. (portrait list of presidents on display at Harriett K. Hutchens Library in the Jester Learning and Performance Center, Shoffner campus, Bolivar, MO.)
  7. Oliver, J (5/11/07). JMC renovations near completion. Omnibus online, Retrieved 1/16/08, from
  8. B Glidwell Director of Physical Plant, personal communication, 1/14/08
  9. Block, B (8/31/07). Summer renovations provide more security for students. Omnibus online, Retrieved 1/16/08, from
  10. Locke, I (9/14/07). Union renovations are handicap accessible. Omnibus online, Retrieved 1/16/08, from
  11. Oliver, Jessica (11/30/2007). University begins preparations for campus renovations. Omnibus Online, Retrieved 01/13/2007, from
  12. Southwest Baptist University, (1994-2007). Southwest baptist university athletics. Retrieved January 6, 2008, from
  13. Southwest Baptist University, (2007-2008). Campus buildings and facilities. Southwest Baptist University Catalog, 92(3), 7-8.
  14. Southwest Baptist University, (1994-2007). Southwest baptist university campus tour. Retrieved January 6, 2008, from

External links

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