Southern Nazarene University

Christian college in Bethany, Oklahoma, U.S.

    Crimson & White[1]NicknameCrimson Storm
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II – Great American ConferenceMascotThunder

Southern Nazarene University (SNU) is a private Nazarene university in Bethany, Oklahoma.


Centennial Plaza

The history of the institution is one of various mergers and, therefore, one of differing institutions.[2] While SNU claims its founding date as 1899, that founding date refers to an institution that merged with what is now SNU: Texas Holiness University. As an Oklahoman institution, SNU dates back to 1906, with the founding of the Beulah Heights Academy and Bible School.

The roots of the original Southern Nazarene University are primarily in an orphanage of downtown Oklahoma City, founded by Miss Mattie Mallory. Mallory used her inheritance to buy property north of the city, which she named Beulah Heights, and relocated the orphanage there. Then, in 1906, the Beulah Heights Academy and Bible School opened. In 1909, the school was renamed Oklahoma Holiness College[3] and new property was purchased to the west of Oklahoma City in Bethany.[4] That same year the surrounding holiness community became Nazarene and, as its church base swelled, the school's financial problems "proved less threatening than those at other institutions".[5] The school eventually changed its name in 1918 to Oklahoma Nazarene College,[6] when the first Nazarene Educational Regions were established.[7]

When Peniel College merged with Oklahoma Nazarene College in 1920, the name changed to Bethany-Peniel College.[4] Peniel was the first of four fellow Nazarene institutions that would be absorbed by the Oklahoma school. The second institution was Central Nazarene College, another Nazarene school in Texas, in 1929. Two years later, Arkansas Holiness College was absorbed by Bethany-Peniel. The last merger was Bresee Theological College, in 1940. As historian Timothy L. Smith wrote, "It eventually outdistanced and absorbed the schools at Hutchinson, Kansas, Peniel and Hamlin, Texas, Vilonia, Arkansas, and Des Arc, Missouri. Bethany became the Nazarene center for the whole Southwest."[8]

In 1955, the name changed again from Bethany-Peniel College to Bethany Nazarene College (BNC) to avoid confusion with the term "penal" or "penal colony",[6] and again in 1986, from Bethany Nazarene College to Southern Nazarene University (SNU).[9]

SNU was placed on the American Association of University Professors's list of censured institutions in 1987 after eight faculty members were irregularly terminated in 1986. Discrepancies in the reasons for their termination led the AAUP to investigate: the initial reason given was that of financial difficulty on the part of the institution, due to a decline in student retention and the resulting drop in enrollment, while the reason given later was one of unspecified performance deficiencies in the terminated faculty members.[10] SNU eventually offered some of the terminated faculty members monetary compensation but remained on the list for 18 years, until its administration had drafted academic tenure procedures that met AAUP standards.[11] In 2005, the American Association of University Professors took SNU off its censure list.[12]

Southern Nazarene University was granted an exception to Title IX in 2016 which allows it to legally discriminate against LGBT students for religious reasons.[13]


The main campus is located in Bethany, Oklahoma. Since 1990, SNU has also maintained a presence in Tulsa, providing adult and professional programs.[14][15] Buildings with excavated basements on the Bethany campus have a history of being opened up to shelter area locals during tornado warnings.


SNU is one of eight regional[16] U.S. liberal arts colleges[17] affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. SNU represents the "South Central Region." In terms of the Church of the Nazarene, the "South Central Region" comprises the North Arkansas, South Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Northeast Oklahoma, Southwest Oklahoma, Texas-Oklahoma Latin, North/East Texas, South Texas, and West Texas districts which cover Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.[18] Each college receives financial backing from the Nazarene churches on its region; part of each church budget is paid into a fund for its regional school. Each college or university is also bound by a gentlemen's agreement not to actively recruit outside its respective "educational region".[19]

Southern Nazarene is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU)[20] and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).[21] SNU has also been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1956.[22]


Campus Mall in winter

SNU provides students undergraduate degree options in several different fields of interest.[23] It also offers three graduate degrees[24] and seven professional programs for adults.[25] Southern Nazarene is an open admissions college[26] that does not require applicants to provide grades or standardized test scores; the 2007 acceptance rate for students who applied to the college was 47 percent.[27]

Student life

There were 2,090 students at SNU in 2007, 1,656 of whom were undergraduates.[28] SNU provides on-campus apartments and various dormitories. All students under the age of 22 must live on-campus, although exceptions are made for local students living with families. The housing options include Bracken Hall and Chapman Apartments for upperclassmen,[29]

Oklahoma! in 2006

As at most Christian colleges, there is an emphasis on spiritual development at SNU. The Office of Spiritual Development is presided over by a Vice President (VP) of Spiritual Development and Chapel services take place each Tuesday and Thursday in Herrick Auditorium. Students are required to go to 25 of 30 chapels offered. There are also alternative chapel credit opportunities available to students: small groups, a student led testimony service, and community service. Chapel speakers and musical groups are arranged by the VP of Spiritual Development. The Office of Spiritual Development work with the SGA Campus Ministries leaders to provide special class chapels and spiritual life retreats.[30]

Inside Herrick Auditorium

The Student Government Association (SGA) coordinates events and services for students. The SGA is broken up into four councils executives: Campus Ministries, Athletic Relations, Publicity, Social Life, Finance, and Presidents, along with the editors for the two SNU publications the campus newspaper, The Echo, formerly The Reveille Echo, and the campus yearbook, The Arrow. Each SGA "exec", preside over sub-councils and have a representative on the class level.[31] The SGA councils are responsible for hosting school activities, including the SNL (Southern Nazarene Live) talent contest, T.W.I.R.P., Heart-Pal Banquet, Junior-Senior Banquet, class chapels, and class parties.

SNU is listed among the "Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth" in the US by Campus Pride due to the previously mentioned partial Title IX exemption.[13]


The motto of SNU is "Character, Culture, Christ". This was first used in 1931 in a student publication called The Reflector. In 1948, under the presidency of Roy H. Cantrell the motto was officially revised and adopted by the staff. This change is detailed in this excerpt from Dr. Cantrell's thesis The History of Bethany Nazarene College : "Character...Culture...Christ. These three words have ever been basic in the program and in the administration of Bethany-Peniel College. The noble founders of this college and their successors have consistently maintained that sound moral CHARACTER is the most insistent need in the world of men, that true CULTURE makes such moral character attractive and effective, and that the transforming power of CHRIST and the refining operation of the Spirit are indispensable in the building of the truest manhood and womanhood. This standard has ever required that the students in this college be provided with the best in educational procedure and the finest in spiritual atmosphere."

Alma Mater

The lyrics for SNU's current alma mater were written by a committee in 1940. This committee was composed of Alice Crill, Hoyle Thomas, Marjorie Crooks, Kyle Crist, Dave McKibbon, and Madge Posey. The lyrics were revised by J. Michael Crabtree, Class of 1972, in 1986 to reflect the university's name change from Bethany Nazarene College to Southern Nazarene University. The tune used to accompany the lyrics is Annie Lisle, an 1857 ballad composed by H.S. Thompson.[32]


SNU football stadium

The Southern Nazarene (SNU) teams are called the Crimson Storm. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the Great American Conference (GAC) since the 2012–13 academic year. The Crimson Storm previously competed in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1978–79 to 2011–12; and in the Texoma Athletic Conference from 1972–73 to 1977–78.

SNU compete in 20 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, equestrian, football, golf, rugby, soccer and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, equestrian, golf, rugby, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.[33][34]


The athletics program at SNU began in 1964, when it was still known as BNC, with the creation of a men's basketball team.[35]


Southern Nazarene University also has an equestrian center where students can learn the basics of horsemanship or move into more specialized fields of study.[36] The SNU Equestrian Center is "committed to furthering the education of men and women looking for a career in the Equine Industry", which they do by offering classes like Equine Anatomy, Introduction to Equine Studies, and Introduction to Equine Reproduction.[37] Additionally, the SNU Equestrian Center offers students the opportunity to try out for the Equestrian Team. Both English and Western riders can try out, and those who make the team participate in events sponsored by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association[38]


There are five facilities and sites for athletic competition and training, including the Sawyer Center (1998) for basketball, volleyball, indoor track, commencement, and other ceremonies, McFarland Park Stadium (2001) for football, the Claud & Betty Cypert Athletic Complex (2000) for baseball and softball, the Wanda Rhodes Soccer Complex (1978), and the tennis courts (1985).


The mascot has been the "Thunder Cat" since 2003, the colors are crimson and white,[39] and the athletic nickname is the Crimson Storm. Until 1999, the nickname was the Redskins, but SNU officials adopted the Crimson Storm as a response to concerns that the term "Redskins" as an athletic mascot was derogatory to Native Americans.[40][41]

Notable persons

Several SNU alumni have become notable as academics, politicians, and leaders in the Church of the Nazarene.


  1. ^ Southern Nazarene University Visual Standards Guide (PDF). Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "Why These Schools? Historical Perspectives on Nazarene Higher Education," by Stan Ingersol Archived June 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Ingersol treats each of these institutions separately in his historical overview of the Nazarene schools.
  3. ^ Raser, Harold E.; Thomas C. Hunt, James C. Carper, eds. (1996). Religious Higher Education in the United States. Taylor & Francis. p. 550. ISBN 0-8153-1636-4. {{cite book}}: |author2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b Songe, Alice H. (1978). American Universities and Colleges. ISBN 9780810811379.
  5. ^ "Why These Schools? Historical Perspectives on Nazarene Higher Education Archived February 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Oklahoma Holiness College - SNU Archives". Southern Nazarene University, Bethany & Tulsa, Oklahoma - Character - Culture - Christ.
  7. ^ Cameron, James R. (1968). Eastern Nazarene College—The First Fifty Years, 1900-1950. Kansas City: Nazarene Publishing House. p. 131.
  8. ^ Timothy L. Smith, Called Unto Holiness, pp. 226–227. found in "Why These Schools? Historical Perspectives on Nazarene Higher Education," by Stan Ingersol Archived June 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ HLC of NAC: SNU profile. Changed after the re-arrangement of educational regions in the late 1960s, but reflects neither locale nor regional affiliation. Trevecca is the Nazarene college for the traditional American "South" and, by U.S. News & World Report's definition, SNU is located in the "West".
  10. ^ AAUP Report on Southern Nazarene University
  11. ^ AAUP Committee A Report 2004-2005 Archived August 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Academe Online. July-August 2005. "Censure Actions".Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b "Worst List: The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth". Campus Pride. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  14. ^ Gillham, Omer (March 13, 2001). "Southern Nazarene expands Tulsa site". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Evatt, Robert (September 1, 2010). "School means business: Regal Plaza expects boost from SNU". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  16. ^ "Nazarene Educational Regions" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2008.
  17. ^ Nazarene higher education is based on the liberal arts model rather than that of a research university. LIBERAL ARTS AND THE PRIORITIES OF NAZARENE HIGHER EDUCATION by J. Matthew Price, Ph.D. Archived June 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "The Office of Church Relations". November 9, 2021. Click on "Our Regional Church" tab.
  19. ^ Guidelines and Handbook for Educational Institutions of the Church of the Nazarene (PDF). Church of the Nazarene International Board of Education. 1997. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2009.
  20. ^ "Council for Christian Colleges & Universities - 404 - Page Not Found". Archived from the original on March 28, 2003. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  21. ^ search. "NAICU - Page Not Found". Archived from the original on June 14, 2009. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  22. ^ "Higher Learning Commission".
  23. ^ 2008 SNU Traditional Undergraduate Catalog
  24. ^ 2009 SNU Graduate Catalog
  25. ^ 2009 SNU Adult Studies Catalog
  26. ^ "Southern Nazarene University - SNU - The College Board".
  27. ^ "Southern Nazarene University". Guide to Best Colleges. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  28. ^ "Search for Schools, Colleges, and Libraries". U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  29. ^ SNU: Housing Changes 2009 Archived April 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Chapel @ SNU". Southern Nazarene University, Bethany & Tulsa, Oklahoma - Character - Culture - Christ.
  31. ^ "SNU sga".
  32. ^ "SNU Commencement Program" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016.
  33. ^ "SNU Sports Page". Archived from the original on December 8, 2008.
  34. ^ "SNU Cheerleading". Archived from the original on January 28, 2004.
  35. ^ "SNU Sports: About the Crimson Storm". Archived from the original on October 25, 2001.
  36. ^ SNU Equestrian Center.
  37. ^ Programs & Courses Archived October 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ Equestrian Team.
  39. ^ "Sooner Athletic Conference Athletics". Archived from the original on February 22, 2009.
  40. ^ Murray Evans, "A Storm on the Horizon: SNU Changes Nickname, Mascot", The Oklahoman, April 22, 1998.
  41. ^ "Burying the Mascot Hatchet".
  42. ^ "1955 Arrow". issuu. Retrieved October 10, 2017.

External links

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