Southeastern University is a private Christian liberal arts university located in Lakeland, Florida, United States. It was established in 1935 in New Brockton, Alabama as Southeastern Bible Institute, relocated to Lakeland in 1946, and became a liberal arts college in 1970. The school has six colleges and is the largest Assemblies of God educational institution in the United States. The university offers 55 bachelor’s degrees, 16 master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees. Since President Kent J. Ingle came to Southeastern in 2011, the university has launched 80 extension sites across the nation, an increase from last year’s number of 50 extension sites. The sites are located in 29 states across the United States, including Florida, which has 19 sites. The degrees offered at the sites include a variety of associate, bachelor, and a master’s degree in ministry and leadership.
Southeastern University was founded in 1935 by Assemblies of God Alabama District Superintendent J.C. Thames and other Southeastern district leaders as the Alabama Shield of Faith Institute and was later renamed the South-Eastern Bible Institute (SEBI) in 1936. Originally located in a former high school building in New Brockton, Alabama, it opened its doors to students on November 4, 1935, under the direction of four faculty members. Two years later, in May 1937, the first graduation exercises were held. Seventeen students received diplomas for the two-year academic program.
SEBI continued classes in New Brockton until 1940 when a decision was made to consolidate the school with Beulah Heights Bible Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. The school was known from 1940 to 1942 as the Beulah Heights—South-Eastern Bible Institute. In the fall of 1942, the district superintendents of the Southeastern districts accepted the invitation of the Rev. Ralph Byrd and his congregation to move the school to another location in Atlanta where it was once again renamed SEBI. In 1946, the school’s board of directors voted to secure a permanent location for the full development of the school. A new campus location was purchased later that year in Lakeland, Florida. The Atlanta campus was sold, and development of the new site began. Student body growth continued at the new central Florida campus along with the academic program.
SEBI became South-Eastern Bible College in 1956 when the school began offering four-year, bachelor’s degree programs. After adding education degrees, the college’s board of directors changed the school name to Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in 1977. In 1986, Southeastern was granted regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Accreditation was reaffirmed in 1991, 2001, and 2011. In 2005, Southeastern College officially became Southeastern University, and began offering its first master's degree programs, and formed the colleges of arts and sciences, business, Christian ministries and religion, and education. Since then, the university has also formed the colleges of behavioral and social sciences and natural and health sciences. In 2014, it began its first doctoral program, the EdD.
In 2011, Southeastern undertook several initiatives which resulted in rapid growth. From 2,500 students in 2012, the school expanded to 4,538 in the fall of 2015, a growth rate of 78% since 2011. In 2012 Southeastern approved the addition of a nursing program and the addition of a college football team. The football expansion included the construction of a stadium that seats 3,500 spectators and an athletic training center. The Southeastern Fire football team played their first home game in the fall of 2014. Also, in 2014, the school opened new baseball and soccer facilities. In 2015, construction began on several new academic buildings, a new athletic complex including a gymnasium, and an 8-lane track. In the fall of 2015, Southeastern opened a new 27,000-square-foot Natural and Health Sciences building. The new facility includes an auditorium, chemistry labs, computer labs, exam rooms, patient care rooms, and a nursing simulation lab. The summer of 2015, saw the demolition of Spence Hall, Lindsey Science Building, and the Music Hall in order to make way for the Live/Learn Facility, known as Buena Vida. The 125,000 square-foot facility was completed in the fall of 2016 and includes classrooms, faculty offices, student housing, and a food court. The first segment of Buena Vida, the Choral and Rehearsal Hall, opened in September. The total cost of the expansion program will be between $25 and $50 million.
Southeastern University is organized into six colleges. The College of Arts & Media houses the Department of Communication, Department of Humanities, and Department of Music. The other five colleges are the Jannetides College of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, the College of Education, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the College of Christian Ministries and Religion, and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
Southeastern University offers 55 majors leading to the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees. In addition to these, the university also offers 16 master's degrees and two doctoral degrees. They also incorporate a full online program that offers 23 of their own campus degrees including nine undergraduate degrees, thirteen master's degrees, and their Doctor of Education degree.
Aventura Hall—Female housing suites for 4 or 8 students.
Bethany Apartments—Male/female apartments for 4 students.
Destino Hall—Male housing suites for 4 or 8 students.
Esperanza Hall—Female housing suites for 4 or 8 students.
South Pointe—Male/Female housing apartments that accommodate 3 or 4 students.
Valencia—Male/Female housing apartments that accommodate 3 or 4 students.
Buena Vida—Male/Female housing suites that accommodate 4 or 8 students.
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Held annually on the university’s Lakeland, Fla., campus, the National Leadership Forum teaches the servant leadership concept in the academic, business, and church communities. Notable speakers previously hosted by the Forum include former President of the United States George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, Joyce Meyer, Gen. Colin L. Powell, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Kurt Warner, Tommy Barnett, Jack Welch, Tony Dungy, TD Jakes, Craig Groeschel, Ken Blanchard, Erwin McManus, Patrick Lencioni, Bill Hybels, Bill George, Henry Cloud, Dave Ramsey, Tim Sanders, Ed Young, Jr., Tony Evans, Megyn Kelly, Tim Tebow, Ben Carson, and Wayne Cordeiro.
Southeastern University teams are nicknamed the Fire, with a mascot accordingly known as Scorch. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), competing in The Sun Conference, formerly known as the Florida Sun Conference (FSC). The Fire are associate members of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) after competing in both Division II and, more recently, Division I. The university added softball, men’s tennis, and men’s & women’s cross country during the 2012-13 school year, and women’s golf for 2013-14. Southeastern currently competes in seven men’s and seven women’s sports, after the addition of football in the 2014-15 academic year. Men’s wrestling was added in the 2015-16 academic year, becoming the state’s only collegiate scholarship program.
The Sun Conference:
2013: Men’s Golf (conference tournament)
2014: Baseball (conference tournament)
2015: Softball (regular season), Men’s Soccer (regular season & conference tournament), Volleyball (conference tournament), Football (regular season), Women’s Basketball (regular season & conference tournament)
2016: Football (regular season), Women’s Basketball (regular season and conference tournament), Baseball (conference tournament)
NCCAA Division II:
2005: Baseball, Men’s Basketball
2006: Baseball, Men’s Soccer
NCCAA Division I
2007: Men’s Golf
In the fall of 2013, Southeastern University launched their debate program. They compete as members of the Florida Intercollegiate Forensics Association (FIFA), participating in both Lincoln-Douglas debate and Parliamentary debate. SEU Debate won the FIFA State Championship Debate Tournament in February 2014, closing out Lincoln-Douglas finals. In the fall of 2015, during the University of Southern Mississippi tournament, SEU Debate took home 17 individual awards and were the only institution to advance all of their teams. SEU Debate is student-led and is a non-profit, student-funded team.
The Steelman Library serves as the academic library at Southeastern University. The library collection contains over 100,000 books, 800 periodical titles, over 1,300 compact discs, 2,500 videos and other multimedia for class courses and research. The Steelman Library houses a Curriculum Lab that includes children’s materials and textbooks for education students. Steelman Library also supplies electronic access to the SPARC Catalog (library catalog), research databases that include over 15,000 full text periodicals and 32,000 e-books.