About Southwestern College

Founded in 1885 and for the first century of its existence, Southwestern was a liberal arts college whose students were largely Kansan and often United Methodist. It was regionally known for its success in producing ministers, teachers, and students ready to enter medical school. The institution changed dramatically in 1993, though, when college classes for working adults were first offered in off-campus locations. 

Christy Administration Building with flagsToday Southwestern College comprises two thriving facets – the main campus in Winfield, Kansas, which continues to appeal mostly to traditional-aged students, and a Professional Studies program headquartered in Wichita, which is targeted at working adults completing their bachelor’s or graduate degrees in online classes. Even as the college has extended its reach, its fundamental commitments have not changed. Southwestern provides all of its students with educational programs and co-curricular experiences that prepare them to excel in the workplace and in service in the community. 

Southwestern’s 83-acre campus in Winfield provides a beautiful and updated academic setting for students and faculty. Located on a hill overlooking the Walnut River Valley, the campus is notable for an abundance of trees (characteristic of the Winfield area) and its native limestone buildings. The Christy Administration Building, with its iconic stone pillars, is the symbolic heart of the campus. Other major buildings include historic Stewart Field House, which has undergone a major facelift, but remains the oldest field house west of the Mississippi still used for its original purpose. 

In the past 30 years, four capital campaigns have allowed dramatic improvements in the college’s facilities. They have funded construction or renovation of the Beech Science Center, Richard L. Jantz Stadium, Richardson Performing Arts Center, the Cole Hall residence for freshmen women, Mossman Hall, and the Deets Library. These projects, combined with the Heart of the Hill Project which rebuilt the 77 Steps and The Mound (part of a unique Southwestern tradition), have transformed the core of the Winfield campus as will the new residence hall, expected to open in 2023. 

Professional Studies administrative offices are located 45 minutes away in Wichita, providing easy access to learners and amenities in Kansas’ largest city. McConnell Air Force Base is just a few blocks from the Wichita location. 

The Ethos 

Southwestern College’s United Methodist heritage and its vision commitment to “leadership through service in a world without boundaries” have led to a culture of service that pervades campus programs. Leadership development is stressed throughout the curriculum, as the college’s intentionality is formalized in its institutional outcomes – “The ability to create and communicate a vision that inspires others to act or achieve a desired goal” is highlighted along with critical thinking, ethical reasoning, communication, and career preparation. Integral to the Southwestern experience are its faculty and administration – people who don’t just come to work, but have made a genuine commitment to the college and its students. That commitment has cemented ties between generations of students and professors who continue to transform the lives of today’s family of learners. 

Smiling students at CommencementThe college also stresses educational opportunity for all. This is reflected in its Professional Studies offerings where degree options are important to its military students. The care of these military learners (who can continue to take classes through deployments, reassignments, and other life changes) has led to annual recognition as a top military-friendly institution.

The college’s emphasis on racial and cultural diversity has taken it from a mostly-white student population to one whose students self-reported as 37% white and 34% as an underrepresented race/ethnicity or as mixed race in the spring of 2021. Five percent of the main campus student population are international students. 

Southwestern has a proud history of progressive acceptance. Of the college’s first three graduates in 1889, two were women. In 1899, Southwestern graduated its first African American student, Elijah Pilgrim Geiger, a former slave. In the early 1940s, during Japanese internment the college educated and cared for 19 students of Japanese heritage, a number far exceeding regional universities. There are numerous examples such as these from the college’s establishment in 1885 to today which demonstrate a consistent culture of love, value, and acceptance for every student, staff, faculty; indeed, this is a point of pride for Moundbuilders.

Choir students rehearsing at The MoundToday Southwestern makes a concerted effort to recruit and support first-generation college students. Partnerships with two Wichita inner city middle schools have led to SC students serving as mentors for the youth, and to summer camps that give the public schools’ youngsters a taste of life on campus and the realization that higher education is a possibility for them.

The college reinforces its values through its awarding of financial aid – the biggest scholarships are given for academic achievement, family financial need is considered and remedied next, and talent in an activity (activity grant) determines the third-highest amount of institutionally-awarded financial aid.

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