In 1892, Seventh-day Adventists living near Dallas chose a committee to locate a property for a school in Johnson County. The committee members personally financed the purchase of 800 acres five miles east of Cleburne for $8,000. At a time in our nation when railroads were broken, banks were closing, and businesses were failing, hearty Adventist families converged on the land in November 1893. Families brought all their earthly possessions in covered wagons and began to clear the land and build houses. In these early winter months, most families stayed in tents.
By January 6, 1894, the first school building was completed, and it doubled as the church, which at the time served 67 members. On January 7, the school opened with 56 students in all grades. Soon after, the enrollment increased to 90, as other families moved to the new town that became Keene.
Old Betsy, the one-stop train
On December 20, 1902, the first train pulled into town. Local citizens had raised $3,000 to get a passenger train on the 10-mile stretch from Cleburne to Egan. The new railroad had one stop: Keene’s little depot. The train, operated by a steam engine, was called Old Betsy. It served as the primary means of transportation for 20 years and later was the inspiration for the name of Keene's main road today.
From Industrial to University
Acting on their conviction that classroom learning and work experience complemented each other, Southwestern Adventist University's pioneers named the school Keene Industrial Academy in 1893. Work at the junior college level was first offered in 1916, and the school’s name was changed to Southwestern Junior College. In 1962, the process of approval for senior status was started, and the college was renamed, this time to Southwestern Union College. In 1977, the college was again renamed Southwestern Adventist College as the first Seventh-day Adventist college in North America to reflect the Adventist name. Graduate-level work was first offered in 1987. Nine years later, the institution once again changed its name to the current Southwestern Adventist University.
Inspiring knowledge, faith, and service through Christ-centered education
Southwestern Adventist University seeks to be a community that supports academic, spiritual, physical, and emotional wholeness, encouraging all members to find their purpose and lead lives of service.
The empowering nature of God’s Word
The mercy and justice of God
The blessings of God
The image of God in all humanity
The forgiveness of God
The transformative power of God’s love
The eternal plans of God
Continually seek and be guided by wisdom
Strive to live with complete integrity and without fear
Be good stewards of their time, their talents, and the resources God places in their care
Treat everyone with respect and seek opportunities to work together for the good of humanity
Act with humility and understand others’ limitations
Unselfishly serve and defend those in need through acts of care and compassion
Remain forever faithful