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Arizona Christian University
Former names
Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College (1960–)
Southwestern College (1961–2011)
MottoTransforming Culture with Truth
TypePrivate university
Established1960; 64 years ago (1960)
Religious affiliation
Non-denominational Christian
Academic affiliations
Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Association for Biblical Higher Education
PresidentLen Munsil
Academic staff
36 full-time
Administrative staff
CampusSuburban, 73 acres (30 ha)
ColorsRed & Yellow
Sporting affiliations
NAIA – Sooner (football)
NAIA – CCC (wrestling)
NCCAA Division I – West
MascotPhoenix bird (Stormin' Normin)

Arizona Christian University is a private Christian university in Glendale, Arizona.[1]


Academic rankings
Washington Monthly[2]234 of 242
U.S. News & World Report[3]18 of 45

Founded in 1960 as Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College, Arizona Christian University's original campus was located at 2625 E. Cactus Road,[4] in north-central Phoenix. Since its founding, the university has undergone a number of name changes, including Southwestern College, until its name was finally changed to Arizona Christian University in January 2011.[citation needed]

The university was founded to prepare students for careers in vocational ministry and missions, offering degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries. In 1972 the college first received accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and added regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in 1992.[citation needed]

ACU’s become a non-denominational Christian college in 2007. In 2012, under the leadership of ACU President Len Munsil, the university received approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to offer degrees in biology, communication, and political science. Additional undergraduate degree programs are being planned.[citation needed] In March 2017, ACU received HLC approval to offer online degrees.[citation needed]

Len Munsil assumed the presidency of Arizona Christian University in 2010.[citation needed]

During Munsil’s tenure, ACU enrollment has grown from around 400 to more than 1,000 total students, and in 2021 achieved its seventh straight year of record enrollment.[5]

Notable graduates of Arizona Christian University include Mark Bailey, Chancellor and former President of Dallas Theological Seminary, who also began his teaching and academic administration career at then-Southwestern College.[6] Former National Basketball Association All-Star and coach Paul Westphal began his coaching career at then-Southwestern College, leading the school to a Christian college championship.[7]

Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University

In March 2020, ACU established the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. It was formed in partnership with George Barna, a scholar of American culture and worldview, to research and analyze the impact of the biblical worldview on American culture.[8]


The Arizona Christian athletic teams are called the Firestorm. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) since the 2012–13 academic year; while its football team competes in the Frontier Conference;[9] its men's wrestling team competes in the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC); and its men's & women's swimming teams compete in the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference (PCSC). The Firestorm previously competed as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) from 2008 to 2012.[citation needed]

Arizona Christian competes in 22 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, stunt, swimming, tennis, track & field and volleyball. Club sports include badminton, band, bowling, cheerleading, dance, debate, lacrosse and shotgun sports.[citation needed]


In 2013, Arizona Christian announced that it would be adding football in fall 2014.[10]


Jeff Rutter was named head coach in 2012. He was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 2019.[11]

Spiritual formation

ACU is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian institution where applicants are required to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and agree to take part in ACU's spiritual formation activities, which include attending twice-weekly chapel services and taking 18 credit-hours of Bible. Upon application, students also acknowledge their agreement with the university's statement of faith.[12]


  1. ^ "Contact ACU". Arizona Christian University.
  2. ^ "2023 Bachelor's College Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  3. ^ "Best Colleges 2023: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Contact ACU". Arizona Christian University. Archived from the original on 12 February 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  5. ^ Hake, Cale (20 August 2021). "ACU Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in History to Campus - Arizona Christian University". Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  6. ^ "President's Committee - Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS)". Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Paul Westphal, the former head coach of the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle SuperSonics, will be introduced tomorrow afternoon as the new head basketball coach at Pepperdine". Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Vision - Arizona Christian University". Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  9. ^ Arizona Christian Firestorm to Join the Frontier Conference in 2023 - News
  10. ^ "Arizona Christian University starting football program that will begin play in 2014".
  11. ^ "Coach Rutter Selected Don Meyer National Coach Of The Year". Arizona Christian University Athletics. 9 April 2019. Archived from the original on 24 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  12. ^ "Statement of Faith" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 October 2020.

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