Office of the President


Dr. Eric A. TurnerEric Turner was named president-elect on July 20, 2018, by the Southwest Baptist University Board of Trustees. He began his service as president-elect on Aug. 6, 2018, and assumed the presidency on Sept. 1, 2018. 
He comes from Black River Technical College (BRTC), where he served four years as president. Prior to this, he served 17 years in various administrative capacities at ‎Williams Baptist University. 
Under his leadership at BRTC, the college developed new community educational partnerships and collaborative efforts, launched three new academic programs and constructed the 39,000-square-foot Health Science Complex and Fire Drill Tower. Additionally, Turner rectified long-standing issues related to finance, accreditation and academics. 
During his time at Williams, Turner's work focused primarily on fundraising and accreditation. He and his team secured the largest planned gift in institutional history, along with numerous gifts earmarked for scholarships, capital construction, and renovations. 
He and his wife, Barbara, have a 15-year-old daughter, Emma.

President's Update

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been one of my favorite holidays. This Thanksgiving is particular meaningful to me. Throughout our first semester at SBU, several things have been underway:

Strategic Planning Launch

Thank you to everyone who has already participated in a Strategic Planning Listening Session. If you have not yet had a Listening Session for your area, I encourage you to attend when the time comes.

Fall Tour Events

In addition to the Missouri Baptist Convention, Homecoming, and the multiple games and concerts we have attended this fall, we continue to host Fall Tour Events throughout Missouri. I am continually encouraged by the stories I hear from hundreds of Bearcat alumni and friends, and I am grateful to be a Bearcat.

Turner Family

I am most excited that my wife, Barbara, and daughter, Emma, will be moving to Bolivar within in the next few days. Emma will begin school at Bolivar High School the week after Thanksgiving.

I look forward to spending much more time with my family, sitting in “my” chair once again, and enjoying life together. I am excited for the “girls” to love and appreciate the SBU I have grown to love in a very short time.

Thank you for your continued prayers for SBU and for my family as we complete our transition to Bolivar and SBU.

Shaping our story together,



Greetings, Bearcats! Since the last update, the Executive Team has been quite busy in organizing the strategic planning effort. The initial organizational meeting occurred in September, and we are beginning a year-long effort to focus on mapping out a strong future for SBU.

Strategic planning team

First, we needed to expand the planning team beyond the Executive Team to include representation from a cross-section of SBU constituencies. We have assembled an 11-member planning team that includes representation from faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni and multiple campuses.

Listening sessions

We are already working on developing venues for listening sessions from all University constituents, with the intention of asking two primary questions: "What should never change about SBU?" and "What should we change about SBU?"

Next steps

Now that the planning team has been recruited, an initial kick-off meeting will occur very soon. Initial task assignments will be made, and a definitive timeline will be established to include the following:

  1. Data collection/analysis timeline
  2. Review sessions — listening sessions with the same constituents to review the emergent themes resulting from the initial data collection
  3. A mid-term report for the board of trustees (April Board meeting)
  4. Finalized plan submitted to the board of trustees in October 2019

We have much to do, but we are excited to be working toward the next chapter of SBU's history. To echo the words of our founders, "By God's grace, we will succeed."

Shaping our story together,



Wow! The last six weeks have been a whirlwind. We have crisscrossed our campuses in Bolivar, Springfield, Mountain View and Salem, and traveled beyond to listen to the SBU story and to tell the SBU story. My wife, Barbara, and I consistently walk away impressed with the fierce loyalty to the University. I am humbled to lead an institution with such a stellar history of impacting students’ lives for the kingdom of Christ.

A question continually posed to me as I interact with Bearcats across the country is, “Where are we headed as a University?” For several weeks now, I have stated that it is my desire for SBU to be the Christian university of choice throughout the Midwest and beyond. For us to achieve this, however, we must do this together. We must define what being the University of choice means for SBU. We also must chart our course by developing strategies and tactics to achieve this vision.

As we look toward celebrating the SBU sesquicentennial in 2028, we already have begun our planning effort by asking two simple questions of our SBU family:

  • "What are things that should never change about SBU?" and
  • "What should we change about SBU?"

In moving forward, these President’s Updates will keep you up-to-date on information of particular interest to you in the life of the University, as well as the progress of our strategic planning effort.

Shaping our story together,


Eric A. Turner