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University Archives

Southwest Baptist University University Archives and Special Collections

Items marked TNB, are from To Noonday Bright by Mayme Hamlett

Beginnings: 1878 - 1929

1878, Sept. 17 - SWBC opened in Lebanon, MO

1879, Mar. 19 - Chartered by the State of Missouri

1879, Apr. 18 - Cornerstone laid for the first college building in Bolivar

1879, Sept. 19 - School opened in the Bolivar House Hotel on the square

1880, September - School opened in the new building

1882, Spring - First graduating class; four men and one woman

1883, Spring - 164 students matriculated and four graduated (TNB p.19)

1905-1910 - SWBC operated as the "Southwest Baptist Academy of William Jewell College"

1908, July 18 - "...the mortgage was foreclosed and the school became the property of William Jewell College." (TNB p.73)

1910, June 1 - The college was destroyed  by fire and essentially closed from 1910-1913

1911, Apr. 6 - William Jewell returned the deed to the trustees and the property once more belonged to the Baptists of Southwest Missouri

1913, Sept. 16 - SWBC rebuilt and reopened as a junior college

1913, Sept. 25 - Faculty and students attend the Polk County Fair; students dressed in purple and white, which remain the college colors to this day

1917 - SWBC adopted as a "Mountain School" under the Mountain School System of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and received funding to help further the education of ministerial students

1918, May 23 - Dean Pike announced that "the College had been approved by the University of Missouri for all academy courses and had been granted the privilege of certification for all college grades." (TNB p. 147)

1921 - Junior College accreditation was granted

1923 - Muirhead dormitory for girls completed

1926 - The original Pike Auditorium was built

1928 - Dr. Jent puts in place a "self-help" program so that students could earn 100% of their expenses by working two hours a day at the farm. The farm supplies most of the colleges eggs, milk and vegetables as well as meat. (TNB p.167)

Struggle and Growth: 1930-1980

1930, August - Dr. Courts Redford becomes the president of SWBC

1938 - The Life Beautiful Award, the highest award granted to a student, was established by Mrs. Rosalie Mills Appleby, author and missionary to Brazil

1940, May 16 - JC Penney, a former student of Dean Pike,  delivers the Commencement Address (TNB p. 160)

1941 - Under the leadership of Dr. Courts Redford, the College was debt-free for the first time in the college history

1945 - Ground breaking was held for a new men's dormitory to be named Memorial Hall in honor of the ten SWBC students who had given their lives serving ni World War II

1946 - World War II ended

1951 - Miss Ellen Bell was hired as the president's secretary

1954 - Ingman Hall completed

1962 - Pike Auditorium destroyed by fire

1962, July - 102 acres, located on the south side of Bolivar, was purchased for SWBC by the Bolivar community and named the FM Shoffner Campus of SWBC

1962, July - Board of Trustees approves construction of a new men's dorm for $630,000, which is later named Beasley Hall.

1963 (August 17) - The President's home located on Lillian Street (Craig House), the Field House, a new dormitory for men (Beasley Hall), and six homes for faculty members were dedicated on the Shoffner Campus

1964 - The fine arts building was completed and occupied.  1965, March - North Central Association for Colleges and Schools granted full accreditation to SWBC to become a four-year institution

1965, September - Leslie Hall, a three story dormitory for women providing air conditioned rooms for 200 students, is completed and opened

1978-79 - The College celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opening of SWBC and celebrates homecoming with the theme, "A Proud Past and a Bold Future" with a week-long series of events

1979, Nov. 18 - Mabee Chapel and Pike Auditorium were dedicated

1981 - Southwest Baptist College officially changes its name to Southwest Baptist University, gets a new seal and a new school song, written by Mr. Steve Whisler

1980s - started partnerships that have resulted in campuses in Mountain View, Salem and Springfield

Into the Future - 1980 to now

1983, May 20 - Then Vice-President George Bush gave the keynote address during the dedication ceremony to formally name the Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center (1983 Mozarkian p.18)

1987 - Missouri Baptist Convention granted approval to SBU to offer 20 hours of graduate courses in teacher education, on a one-year trial basis

1989 - North Central Association of Colleges and Schools approves accreditation at the Master's degree granting level, limiting the graduate offerings to the Master of Science in Education degree to be offered on the Bolivar campus

1994 - First Faculty Senate meeting was called to order with prayer by President Mark Tappmeyer in the Board Room of the Sells Administration building

1996 - North Centra Association granted full 10 year accreditation to the University and all of her programs

1997 - Adopted new mission statement, "Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring  academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society"

2000 - University Libraries lanuched a new web-based library catalog as a charter member of MOBIUS, a state wide consortuim

2003, Sept. 17 - the 125th anniversary of the day that the doors of "The Baptist College" opened for the first time in Lebanon, MO

2003 - Buried a time capsule in the lobby of Jester Learning and Performand Center

2004 - Began Darrell R. Strait for the Integration of Science and the Christian Faith

2005 - Granted permission by HLC to offer first doctorate in Physical Therapy

2011 - Master of Science in Nursing added

2012 - Added Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

2013 - Associate of Science in Radiography approved.

2016 - The David and Betty Cribbs Athletic Practice Facility was named and dedication on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

2016 - As a charter member of the Collegiate eSports Association (CESPA), the eSports program is launched.  ESports, or “electronic sports,” is an emerging, competitive gaming scene in which teams compete in popular video game titles. SBU’s first varsity team will compete in League of Legends, a five-player team game in which the team works together to destroy an enemy team’s base.

2016 - The Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of Southwest Baptist University christened its Nursing Training Center with a grand opening ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 1265 E. Lark St., in Springfield.

2016 - The Judy Taylor Physical Therapy Garden and the Warren B. Davis Family Physical Therapy Center Faculty Practice was dedicated on October 6.  The 2,700-square-foot Faculty Practice will be a student-learning lab that utilizes select patients from the surrounding community, incorporates high-level care for patients and provides invaluable learning experiences for students.

2017 - Master of Arts in Christian Ministry Degree was approved to begin in the Fall of 2017.

2017 - The Bachelor of Science degree in Cybersecurity was approved to begin in the Fall of 2017.

2018 - After a successful site visit on Friday, April 28, beginning June 5, an associate’s degree in nursing was approved to be offered through the Dr. Tracy and Debbie Dobbs Nursing Department at Southwest Baptist University’s Salem campus.

2018 -The dedication of the Robert W. Plaster College of Business and Computer Science and re-dedicated of the Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center was held in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2018.  The renovation was initiated with a ground breaking ceremony held on Friday, Dec. 18, 2016, which was designed to expand and renovate the Gene Taylor National Free Enterprise Center that houses the Robert W. Plaster College of Business and Computer Science and the department of history and political science.

2018 - A Health Administration concentration was added to the Master of Business Administration degree and will be offered beginning in the Fall of 2018.

2018 - Digital Marketing degree approved to be offered in the Fall of 2018.

2018 -  Dr. C. Pat Taylor, President, retired as the 24th University President on Aug. 31.  Dr. Taylor announced his retirement plans in January. He assumed his duties as the University’s 24th president on Oct. 21, 1996, and is the longest-serving president in the University’s 140-year history.

2018 - The Wayne & Diana Hutchins Center for Nursing Education dedicated on Thursday, August 30, at the Springfield Campus located at 1265 E. Lark St.  The 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art training facility features a learning resource center, simulation lab, nursing stations, task training room and a 50-seat classroom.

2019 - Missouri State Board of Nursing granted approval to begin the pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program on the Bolivar campus in the Spring of 2019..

2019 - Dedicated of the Don and Carrie Babb Department of Nursing and the associated training facilities was held April 4., 2019.  

2019 - Eric A. Turner, Ed.D., was inaugurated as the 25th president on Friday, April 26.  Dr. Turner was named president-elect on July 20, 2018. He began his service as president-elect on Aug. 6, 2018, and assumed the presidency on Sept. 1, 2018.

2019 - The Lloyd & Frances Randolph Meditation Chapel and Clement Amphitheatre & Prayer Garden were re-dedication on May 9 to celebrate renovations.  The facilities were constructed in 1988.

2019 - Bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and forensic chemistry were approved to begin in Fall of 2019.

2020 - The Education Specialist in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership degree approved to begin in Spring 2021 semester..

2020 - The Board of Trustees and Missouri Baptist Convention approved the sale of Ingman Hall and Maupin Hall on the Stufflebam Campus to Polk County House of Hope.