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Wesleyan Higher Education Spotlight: Southern Wesleyan University

"Our mission is to impact the world for Christ by raising up the next generation of leaders, pastors, and congregants, to grow the church and turn society toward Christ." – Todd Voss, President of Southern Wesleyan University

Many high school graduates no longer ask whether to pursue higher education; instead, they ask where their higher education will occur. As a denomination focused on developing authentic Christian leaders, our educational institutions seek to shape both intellect and character.

Located in Central, South Carolina, Southern Wesleyan University exemplifies the tenets of a formational education. The leaders at SWU believe their university's association with The Wesleyan Church—and with Christ—requires a deep commitment to excellence. This commitment provides both formational education and transformative witness to the world.

According to SWU's President, Dr. Todd Voss, Wesleyan higher education shapes "both head and heart." Most institutions of higher education emphasize intellectual formation: this is good, but incomplete. While growth in knowledge is essential, a holistic education requires development of the "heart"- the student's passions, talents, and abilities. At Southern Wesleyan University, students are grounded in faith and provided with both. As a result, SWU's curriculum focuses on imbuing scholars with character, virtue, integrity, and responsibility.

President Voss believes these elements of character and integrity fulfill the longing of the church and the world. At Southern Wesleyan, graduates get essential knowledge for their field and the character traits that allow their work to contribute to the Kingdom of God.

Southern Wesleyan is working hard to partner with local and regional corporations for resources in relation to their academic programs. At a recent meeting between SWU and these corporations, representatives noted SWU graduates' success in the workplace. Without explicit mention of the graduates' faith or Christian commitment, employers took note of their drive, integrity, and strong leadership traits. They commented, "We don't know where it comes from, but it works and we want to see more of it." President Voss' response to his recollection of this meeting; "While we cannot push the faith issue with [these corporations], we can push character elements we know are built on Biblical principles. The world wants it; they just don't know what to call it."

Through their mission of holistic education, Southern Wesleyan reaches lost people the church might not otherwise reach. Southern Wesleyan University "Brings folks into the fold through the door of higher education." President Voss noted hundreds of stories of individuals and families coming to the Lord as a result of a SWU education.

Southern Wesleyan University's curriculum helps students contribute to The Wesleyan Church's missional priorities (authentic Christian leaders, spirit-filled believers, ethnic diversity, focused prayer, church fitness, urban urgency, and church multiplication). Southern Wesleyan teaches its students to be Spirit-filled believers and understand urban urgency through overt and covert channels like internships, chapels, team devotions, volunteer service, leadership development, and active participation in a faith-filled community. Focused prayer is learned and sometimes relearned; graduates understand the need and contribute to Church fitness and multiplication starting in their college years and continuing through their entire lives.

Southern Wesleyan's locations in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston, and North Augusta also provide SWU adult students with a front-row seat to Southern urbanization. As a result, students learn to dialogue with diverse values and cultures, developing their knowledge of the urban affect on local church effectiveness.

25% of Southern Wesleyan's traditional campus students and 50% of adult students are ethnically diverse. SWU's warm, friendly campus develops leaders of all ethnic backgrounds who spread the Gospel to all corners of the world.

Southern Wesleyan University exemplifies the value of Wesleyan higher education: developing authentic Christian leaders, assimilating urbanized areas, and providing a vehicle for reaching into diverse cultures and communities. If you'd like to hear more about how a Southern Wesleyan University education could aid you in achieving your goals, visit SWU's website.

Students in SWU's science program hone their craft.
Students in SWU's science program hone their craft.

Jessica White is a Staff Writer for Education and Clergy Development, and the mother of two young daughters, Abigail and Josephine. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and taught second grade for three years before resigning to stay at home and raise her children. She also helps her husband, Kyle, with his responsibilities volunteering as the Worship Leader at their local church. When she's not writing, Jessica enjoys being outside and going for walks. In the summer you will find her playing at the beach or the pool with her family. In the winter, she spends her spare time scrapbooking and watching movies.