Bolivar, Missouri Southwest Baptist University

Bolivar has been home to a nationally renowned university for over 140 years. Southwest Baptist University (SBU) was founded in 1878 in Lebanon, Missouri, before being chartered the next year by the State of Missouri and moved to Bolivar. The early writings of the university housed in its archives are filled with accounts of hardship. Baptists in southwest Missouri built a legacy of sacrificial giving and extraordinary efforts to establish and maintain the college. The college’s founders, Abner S. Ingman and James R. Maupin, faced many difficulties as they rode the state by horseback, seeking funds, students, and land for the college. The college closed from 1910-13 due to lack of funds. After this respite, the college reopened as a junior college. The Missouri Baptist Convention maintains control of the university and has facilitated advancements such as plans in 1964 for the college to become a senior liberal arts college, baccalaureate degrees being awarded after 1967, a name change to Southwest Baptist University in 1995, and entering a partnership with Mercy Health in Springfield for their College of Nursing.

The Baptist heritage at SBU continues to be a central part of its identity and impacts the town, as it employs several hundred Bolivar residents in faculty and staff positions. The university prides itself on several traditions, including:
• Chapel and Discipleship - Required Chapel services are held each Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the entire campus community.
• Center for Global Connections - one of the largest short-term volunteer programs of any university in the United States, offers the opportunity to expand students’ service and your witness through mission projects both at home and abroad.
• Locamente - Student-led prayer and worship service held weekly on Thursdays at 10 p.m. at Randolph Chapel.
• The Table - A weekly college ministry on-campus involving worship, studying the Word, discipleship, prayer, and accountability small groups.
• Center for Worldview and Culture - Provides thoughtful resources and events to prepare students to better answer for their Christian faith with clarity and charity.

The City of Bolivar has invested significant resources in the university to ensure it remains in the city and attracts more students. In the beginning, the school was just one building near the center of town. Thanks to generous Bolivar citizens, a piece of land totaling 102 acres was donated on the southern edge of the city. The land allowed the college to expand beyond the original 10-acre campus. As of 2023, the university comprises 152 acres and 45 physical buildings at its Bolivar campus. It also has sister campuses in Mountain View, Salem, and Springfield, Missouri, plus an online campus added in 2019. The university now offers over 100 areas of study, from undergraduate to doctoral degrees. Its Pike Auditorium and Football Stadium play host to many local events, such as concerts and games, making it a focal point of the city and surrounding communities. The public can explore and drive the Bolivar campus with great ease and admire the work that Bolivar has done to advance the college and its mission as a historic economic force in the city. We hope you enjoy exploring this historically important college.



1600 University Ave, Bolivar, MO 65613