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Southwestern Adventist University

Brian Hart General Entry

Southwestern Adventist University is a four-year, accredited institution of higher learning in Keene, owned and operated by the Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. It was established on January 7, 1894, as the Keene Industrial Academy and was chartered by the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to train religious workers. During its initial year the academy had one building on a ten-acre tract of land, enrolled fifty-six students, and employed two instructors. The institution included a broom factory, a blacksmith shop, a carpentry shop, a tent factory, a bakery, and a printing office, which enabled students to earn a part of their expenses and to learn a trade. The institution became a twelve-year academy in 1896 and added two additional years of study to its curriculum in 1916, when it was renamed Southwestern Junior College. The school maintained primary, secondary, and collegiate departments and offered courses at the junior college level in such fields as industrial arts, art, and commercial subjects. Between 1916 and 1963 the school gradually accumulated a 150-acre campus. In 1963 the school's name was changed to Southwestern Union College. In 1965 it had an enrollment of 275 students. A number of new buildings were added to the campus during the 1950s and 1960s, and by 1969 its library had 40,000 volumes. In 1977 the school became a private, four-year institution named Southwestern Adventist College, and in 1989 it qualified for university status. The school maintains that "true education consists of the harmonious development of the mental, physical, social, and spiritual nature of man." In 1990 the university was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Council on Social Work Education, the General Conference Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities, the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners, and the National League for Nursing. It offered undergraduate degrees in a variety of fields and master's degrees in business administration and elementary education. The school differs from most other colleges and universities in the maintenance of its original emphasis upon work experience for its students. It guarantees a job to any student who desires work. During the 1988–89 session Southwestern Adventist University had 778 students and sixty regular faculty, twenty-nine buildings, a radio station, four residence halls, an apartment complex, and a lakeside park on 150 wooded acres. The president of the university in 2001 was Dr. Marvin Anderson. In 1994 the university completed the Chan Sun Centennial Library at the highest point in Johnson County. Southwestern Adventist University had 49 faculty and 1,165 students in the fall of 1998, plus 297 for the 1998 summer session.

Johnson County History Book Committee, History of Johnson County, Texas (Dallas: Curtis Media, 1985).


  • Education
  • Private Four-Year Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Adventist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Brian Hart, “Southwestern Adventist University,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 21, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 2, 2001