Spring Arbor University

name = Spring Arbor University

motto = "Spring Arbor University is a community of learners, distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world."
established = 1873
type = Private
endowment= $10 Million
president= Dr. Charles H. Webb
city = Spring Arbor
state = Michigan
country = U.S.
campus = Rural
undergrad = 2,600
affiliations= Free Methodist
mascot= Cougars
website= [http://www.arbor.edu http://www.arbor.edu]

Spring Arbor University (often called "The Arbor" by its students) is located in Spring Arbor, Michigan, United States (8 miles South-West of Jackson, Michigan). SAU is an evangelical Protestant university affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, with professional and graduate studies for about 3,700 students. As of the 2007-08 school year, there were 1,913 undergraduates, 1,091 graduate and 697 off-campus degree completion students. The university employs approximately 100 full-time faculty. Spring Arbor University has extension sites in Alpena, Battle Creek, Bay City, Flint, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Metro-Detroit, Petoskey, Traverse City, Troy, and Metro-Toledo, Ohio.

The university offers more than 40 program majors and is recognized for its strong Liberal Arts curriculum and Christian atmosphere. Most students are from various Protestant denominations, over 42 denominations are represented on the campus. Around 86% of students are from Michigan, 13% are from 22 other states and 1% are international.


Spring Arbor University was founded in 1873 by leaders of the Free Methodist Church. Called to minister to the poor, the early Free Methodists advocated freedom for slaves and free pews for all worshipers. In 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States, B.T. Roberts organized the Free Methodist denomination in New York. Three years later Edward Payson Hart began evangelistic meetings in Michigan. Hart was the driving force behind theestablishment of Spring Arbor Seminary—an academy for elementary and secondary grades. Located near the site of a former Pottawatomie Indian village, the academy was built upon “some old school property” that once belonged to Michigan Central College (now Hillsdale College). Devoted to the “promotion of earnest Christianity and sound, solid learning,” Spring Arbor Seminary was open to all children, regardless of “religious convictions or beliefs.”

Spring Arbor Seminary’s enrollment grew to around 200 students in 1907, declined during World War I, but recovered after the Armistice. As one of its principals, H.A. Millican observed the academy remained committed to its original aim to “urge holiness of life and thorough Christian training, together with the highest type of mental culture.” In 1923, as the school celebrated its 50th anniversary, the board of trustees voted to add a junior college to the academy. Some first- and second-year courses were offered over the next few terms, and in 1929 the school became Spring Arbor Seminary and Junior College. As the emphasis shifted toward higher education, primary and intermediate classes were discontinued in 1930. In 1960, when the school achieved accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (seeAccreditation for contact information), the trustees changed the name of the institution to Spring Arbor College. Soon the high school program was dropped, as plans were developed tomake Spring Arbor a four-year college. Under the leadership of President David McKenna, Spring Arbor College launched its four-year program in 1963, graduating its first senior class in 1965.

The College continued its expansion, adding locations and degrees over the subsequent years. In the early 1980s, the College began offering the first of its degree completion programs for adult learners in nearby Jackson. The initial class of students to earn a degree in management of human resources graduated in 1983. New programs and new locations soon followed, as the College developed degrees in health-related fields and opened sites in Lansing and Flint. Over the past decade, Spring Arbor has become a leader in the design of degree completion programs and the University has a network of 20 affiliate colleges that have adopted or adapted the Spring Arbor curriculum.

At present, the university's School of Adult Studies operates four regional centers located in Kalamazoo, Gaylord, Dearborn and Flint and offers four bachelor programs through those centers at various teaching locations within each region. Current degree options include management and organizational development (formerly MHR), family life education, business and nursing. Teacher certification at the elementary level is now offered in a 2+2 format at Alpena Community College, North Central Michigan College in Petoskey, Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing and Jackson Community College. Currently, over 1,000 students are enrolled in these off-campus programs.

Graduate education began at Spring Arbor in 1994, with the inauguration of the Master of Arts in Management degree, which is now the Master of Business Administration. Soon afterward, the University began to offer its Master of Arts in Education. Spring Arbor is one of the few schools among Christian universities with accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 1999, the Master of Arts in Organizational Management was introduced. The Master of Arts in Counseling began in the fall of 2001.

MAC, MAE and MAOM degrees are offered through some of the University's regional centers. At present, over 1,000 students are enrolled in Spring Arbor's graduate degree programs, with an additional 100 students attending graduate courses for professional development. The Master of Arts in Family Studies began fall 2002 and the University's first entirely-online graduate program, the Master of Arts in Communication, began the following year.

On April 30, 2001, Spring Arbor College became Spring Arbor University. In part, recognizing the wide ranging growth of its degree offerings, its locations and its structure, the change in name also acknowledges new aspirations and an ambitious vision for the future. The move clarifies the school's status internationally, positions the institution to better reach a growing constituency, pushes the entire collegiate community to guard our spiritual heritage and challenges the organization to excel academically and administratively.

piritual Life

Spring Arbor University requires that all students attend a chapel service on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:10 am. There are about 800 students and faculty members in attendance, often with guest speakers.

SAU chaplain [http://www.arbor.edu/standarddetail.aspx?id=16818 Ron Kopicko] selects energetic speakers from as far as California and as close as the University's own community such as professors, staff members and past students. This diverse group of men and women deliver messages specifically designed to direct, encourage, and propel participants forward in their calling and personal walk with Christ.

Aside from Chapel, there are a variety of campus groups and events designed to grow the spiritual life of students including Spiritual Life Retreat, small groups, and the [http://www.arbor.edu/UG_contentright.aspx?id=10310 CORE program] . The CORE program is developed specifically into the curriculum to produce lifelong growth [http://www.cccu.org/resourcecenter/rc_detail.asp?resID=2073 personally and spiritually] .

Also, SAU has hosted concerts for Christian music artists Kutless,Thousand Foot Krutch, Sanctus Real, Family Force 5, Falling Up, Shane and Shane, Starfield and Bethany Dillon.

University Media

Spring Arbor University has two local radio stations 106.9 HOME.fm and 89.3 The Message. Publications include the "Crusader", a weekly student run newspaper, and the "Echo", a video year book. An annual student film festival is held every April.

The campus newspaper, the "Crusader" and the university's control over what it publishes has been a topic of notable importance in the recent past. Papers containing controversial articles have been pulled from stands by university staff as articles discussing the moral state of students on campus, written after a survey done showed statistics out of line with the universities moral standards. The Crusader is eight pages published weekly by a relatively small staff of students.

In January, 2008 a student-created radio station 100.5 WTIT, aired in attempt to broadcast media neglected by the other campus radio stations. The station was quickly dismantled after a request from University staff. The station was best know for the talk show "Heart to Heart with Michael Hart," and the late night rap show, "What it is with RC." The special radio show, in which "Concept Man" was interviewed, poking fun at some of the Universities policies is thought to have been the show that pushed the University to shut down the station. The popular radio show "Heart to Heart with Michael Hart" formerly heard on 100.5 can now be heard online on the official [http://www.webspinnerlive.com/michaelhart Heart to Heart] website.


The university is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and plays an active role in both local and world communities. The university is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The Spring Arbor University Concept is, "Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world."


Spring Arbor University has 14 intercollegiate sports teams that compete in the NAIA and NCCAA. The Cougars are represented in men's baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and outdoor track and field, and in women's basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, outdoor track and field, and volleyball.

The school has been home to some truly great and prominent coaches. The biggest name in Spring Arbor Athletics history is the late, great baseball coach Hank Burbridge (1935-2005), who coached the baseball program from 1964 through 2004 and is 1 of 4 coaches in NAIA history to win over 1,000 games. Burbridge also coached the U.S. National Team several times, as a head coach once and an assistant coach other times. Another great coach is the man who took over the baseball program after Burbridge retired, John Samuel Riggleman. He is affectionately known as "Handsome Sam" across Spring Arbor's campus. Riggleman has won over 700 games in his career.Another example of an outstanding student athlete at the University is Paul Korson (whom remains the best and most decorated tennis player in history.)

The school is a member of the Mid-Central College Conference.

The 1999 women's cross country team finished second at the NAIA meet in Kenosha, Wis. The 2007 baseball team finished 48-5 and lost in the NAIA Championship Game. Their season included a 36 game winning streak. The school has won 16 NCCAA championships in eight sports.

National Championships (16):
* 1981: Women's Cross Country - NCCAA
* 1982: Women's Outdoor Track and Field - NCCAA
* 1982: Women's Cross Country - NCCAA
* 1983: Women's Basketball - NCCAA Division I
* 1987: Women's Basketball - NCCAA Division I
* 1992: Women's Volleyball - NCCAA Division I
* 1992: Baseball - NCCAA
* 1993: Baseball - NCCAA
* 1996: Men's Golf - NCCAA
* 1997: Men's Golf - NCCAA
* 1998: Baseball - NCCAA
* 1998: Men's Golf - NCCAA
* 2000: Women's Cross Country - NCCAA Division I
* 2005: Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division I
* 2005: Softball - NCCAA Division I
* 2006: Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division I

National Runners-up (7):
* 1987: Men's Soccer - NCCAA Division I
* 1999: Women's Cross Country - NAIA
* 2003: Baseball - NCCAA
* 2004: Softball - NCCAA Division I
* 2006: Baseball - NCCAA Division I
* 2007: Baseball - NAIA
* 2007: Women's Soccer - NCCAA Division I
* 2008: Men's Basketball - NCCAA Division I

Recent Events

20/20 Plan

In a recent chapel service interim president Dr. Gerald Bates announced to the students that SAU staff had been holding meetings to decide the future of Spring Arbor University. He announced that by 2020 the university hopes to have accomplished a new science center, expanded student center, and several more student housing units. It was hinted at that several other academic buildings were planned to be built by 2020 but specific details were not given. Finally, Dr. Bates hopes that the endowment of SAU will reach $20 million by 2020 and that student enrollment will surpass 5,000.

Dining Hall Happenings

In March 2008 the University experienced an unfortunate case of embezzlement by staff members involved in the universities dining services. The employee's conduct resulted in the termination of two staff members' employed by Chartwells, the contracted food services provider on campus, and the job loss of nine student workers. Chartwells released a statement shortly after the event that read,

[As] part of Chartwells ongoing efforts to improve services to our customers, we are undergoing an operational review. During this review, Chartwells has brought in an interim director, Ron Braenne, who will lead this review process.

Both Chartwells and the University continue their silence on the real reason for the "operational review." The campus newspaper (The Crusader) has also been quiet about the issue.

Trading Center

Spring Arbor University recently received a major contribution from CP Federal Credit Union to develop a trading center in the new Poling Center Building for Global Learning and Leadership.

Serving as a centerpiece of the finance program, the trading center will be equipped with dual monitor computers, electronic ticker tape (one of only 52 in the nation, and three in Michigan), real-time data board for security price displays, interactive LCD presentation screen, business news LCD screen, international clocks, Bloomberg terminal, a specialized teaching bunker and continuous financial news feeds.

Once complete, Spring Arbor University will be one of an elite group of universities across the nation utilizing trading room technology as part of its curriculum—and one of only a few in Michigan.

Endowed Chair

On November 9, 2007 Spring Arbor University announced a $1.1 million contribution that will fully endow a chair for the department of religion. With primary funding from retired Battle Creek real estate mogul B. Jack Andrews, this gift will endow a chair for spiritual formation—the first fully-funded endowed chair in the University’s history. Though he is not an alum, Jack Andrews’ as one of 10 children, chose to help establish a chair that would conserve the beliefs of his parents. His father, E.A Andrews was a longtime pastor in the Free Methodist Church.Andrews served at the Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church from 1924-1926.

Dr. Gerald Bates named president for 2007-08 academic year

The Spring Arbor University Board of Trustees overwhelmingly voted to appoint Dr. Gerald E. Bates president of Spring Arbor University for the 2007-08 academic year, effective as of June 1. Bates succeeded Dr. Gayle D. Beebe, who has left to become president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Bates currently serves the University as vice chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the board’s strategic planning oversight committee. During this assignment, he worked with faculty, staff and administration to sharpen the University’s position within higher education, with a focus on strategic planning.

“President Bates is an ideal person to lead and represent Spring Arbor University in the coming year as we search for a new president,” says Les Dietzman, chairman of the SAU Board of Trustees. “He has worked closely with Dr. Beebe, particularly in the area of strategic planning. We believe he will be able to lead our talented executive team as they continue the momentum that has distinguished SAU over the past several years. Dr.Bates has been a leader on the board and demonstrated his strength and wisdom. We are very fortunate to have someone who is this qualified, who knows and loves the University and who is available to act as a bridge during this period.”

The board will grant Bates a leave of absence from his board duties during his one-year term as president.

A search for the next president of Spring Arbor University will begin immediately. Bates will serve until the new president takes office. E. Harold Munn will lead the search for Spring Arbor University’s next president as chair of the presidential search committee. Bates will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

Former Transgender Employee

Spring Arbor University received media attention when the Citizen Patriot, a local Jackson newspaper, published the story of a former employee. With personal counsel present in fall of 2005, the former employee revealed theirself to be transgendered, or as having gender identity disorder to the administration of Spring Arbor University. That employee's contract was re-negotiated for undisclosed reasons for the fiscal year starting in June 2006. In early Fall 2006, the employee filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In late December 2006, the University notified the employee that there will be no contract renewal after June 2007. On January 19, the claim was amended. In January 2007, the employee's family and counsel was interviewed for the first article that was published in local paper on February 4, 2007. In late February, the former employee was relieved of all teaching and administrative duties but was paid for the remainder of the contract.

The case between the former employee and Spring Arbor University began working toward mediation on March 6th, 2007 and concluded on March 12th, 2007. The terms of the agreement were not made public and the discrimination claim has been withdrawn. This former employee is no longer employed by the university in any capacity. [http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Mar14/0,4670,TransgenderProfessor,00.html Foxnews] ] [cite web|url=http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/03/14/springarbor|title=Spring Arbor and Transgender Dean Settle]

Hosting Free Methodist General Conference

Spring Arbor University will welcome church delegates and friends for the 2007 General Conference of the Free Methodist Church of North America, which comes to campus July 7-13, 2007.

"This is the first time in the history of the Free Methodist church that the general conference is being held on our campus," says Gayle D. Beebe, Spring Arbor University president. "This is an important event for the church and a significant opportunity for the University. I am pleased that the Free Methodist church from across the United States and from our mission fields around the world will be able to enjoy the Spring Arbor University experience." [ [http://www.arbor.edu/news.aspx?id=14638] SAU Press Release] -->


External links

* [http://www.arbor.edu Spring Arbor University] official web site
* [http://www.cccu.org Council for Christian Colleges and Universities] official web site

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