John Brown University
Former names
Southwestern Collegiate Institute (1919–1920)
John E. Brown College (1920–1934)
Motto"Christ Over All"
TypePrivate university
Established1919; 105 years ago (1919)
Religious affiliation
Interdenominational Christianity
Academic affiliations
Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
Endowment$168.7 million (2021)[1]
PresidentCharles "Chip" Pollard
Academic staff
CampusSmall town, 200 acres (81 ha), 200
ColorsRoyal Blue & Gold
NicknameGolden Eagles
Sporting affiliations

John Brown University (JBU) is a private, interdenominational, Christian university in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Founded in 1919, JBU enrolls 2,343 students from 33 states and 45 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online, and concurrent education programs.[2]

The 200-acre (0.81 km2) main campus in northwest Arkansas has been the site of the university since it was founded in 1919. JBU has 2,343 students as of the 2021–2022 school year, 1,228 of whom are on-campus undergraduates. Of these, 818 live on campus. In addition, the university has two off-campus locations: a classroom facility in Rogers, Arkansas, and a Counseling Education Center in Little Rock with classrooms, offices and a Community Counseling Clinic.

The Graduate School at John Brown University has 483 students and offers 16 graduate degrees in business, education, counseling, and cybersecurity.[2]

JBU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission[3] and competes athletically in the Sooner Athletic Conference. Programs within the university have specialized accreditation from Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).[2]


John E. Brown: background

John E. Brown (1879–1957) was not afforded the opportunity to pursue much education, as his family's financial difficulties forced him to begin working at the age of 11.[4] As a teenaged laborer in Arkansas, Brown encountered the Salvation Army and underwent a conversion experience. After his conversion, he became an itinerant Methodist evangelist, with his travels taking him across Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and the Indian Territory.

Subsequent to becoming an evangelist, Brown accepted a position as president of Scarritt College in Neosho. His two years as president were instrumental in developing his plan to establish his own college. However, Brown felt that the strong emphasis of that school on education without the benefit of life training was harmful to the students. As he said in 1903, "It might be my privilege to have a part in the building of school that would turn the minds of youth back from this exaggerated concept of the value of book knowledge, to the realization that all this is valuable only as it becomes a background for, or the foundation under, the real things of life."[5]: 25 

Early years: presidency of John E. Brown Sr. 1919–1948

Maintaining this goal of establishing a college that would provide an interdenominational, Christian education for needy students, who like himself, might not have had a chance of receiving an education, Brown laid the foundation in 1919 for the institution that would later be called John Brown University, John E. Brown College. To pay for the institution's free tuition, Brown developed his school as a Christian vocational college. Students worked jobs such as carpentry and helped in constructing the buildings on campus. The typical work-day was four hours in addition to class time.[6]

Apparently seeking to expand the reach of the growing college, John Brown announced in 1934 that the school was to be changed into a four-year university. The new university was divided into three colleges: the academic, vocational, and Bible colleges, fitting John Brown's stated vision of educating "head, heart, and hand".[5] : 54  Spreading the new university's fields of study into new technology, Brown soon purchased a local radio station (KUOA) from which to broadcast Christian programming and his own sermons. Brown had used radio extensively before but was eager to get the resources of radio into the hands of the university.[5]: 55  The expanded facilities, such as the distinctive Cathedral Group, which took root in the 1930s and 1940s, caused expenses for which the university had to pay. JBU began charging tuition in 1939, albeit a very small amount, and John Brown began to realize that financially, the vocational aspect of the school was more costly than anticipated. The university relied heavily on outside donations to break even financially.[7]: 101 

Shift away from fundamentalism

As the university grew, Brown continued to preach throughout the country and on the radio. He was well known for his attacks on liquor, gambling, dancing, and other Christian fundamentalist issues of the time.[7]: 20  This brought him into close proximity with Bob Jones Sr. founder of Bob Jones University, who presented Brown with an honorary doctorate in 1937.

In the 1940s, the close ties between JBU and the Christian fundamentalist movement began to wane, as the university took an unexpected turn away from fundamentalism. John Brown himself was always a proponent of interdenominationalism, and by aligning himself with Youth for Christ and other evangelical organizations after World War II, JBU was making a statement. John Brown's description of the school in 1948 as "interdenominational and definitely evangelical"[7]: 117  is very telling in this regard.

Presidency of John E. Brown Jr. 1948–1979

When John Brown Sr. relinquished control of the university (at least in name, since he remained as chairman of the board) in 1948, he began a period of much-needed consolidation. During World War II the student body had dropped to barely over a hundred, and the high echelons of the school's leadership were being run almost exclusively by the Brown family.[7]: 99  Under the second Brown, professors and administrators were hired who had more advanced degrees, the Board of Trustees began to develop as a more independent body, and the students elected representatives to an independent council. All of this was beginning to occur by the end of the 1940s.[7]: 109  Also, the university began construction on its Cathedral Group, composed of the chapel sanctuary, known as the Cathedral of the Ozarks, the Science building, and the Library, supposedly symbolizing in building form the idea of educating "head, heart, and hand". As much as JBU grew during this period, it still lacked accreditation and its student body continued to hover at around 300 during the 1950s. After the founder's death in 1957, John Brown Jr. worked to improve the quality of the education JBU provided. One crucial step was the abolition of the university's vocational college. Citing the shifting makeup of the workforce in the 1960s, the president did away with the vocational requirement, with the understanding that each department would provide practical career training as part of its curriculum.[7]: 141  As a result of these reforms and others, JBU was finally nationally accredited by North Central Association.

During the turbulent years of the Vietnam War and the peace movement, JBU was relatively undisturbed. The school nurtured at that time a strong Christian Americanist vision of the world, tying American patriotism and political conservatism to conservative Christian faith. Instead of joining the anti-war movement, many JBU students joined organizations like Campus Crusade for Christ and traveled to other campuses. When those turbulent times had come and gone, JBU faced the 1970s with uncertainty. Academic standards were low and classes were not challenging. The university recognized the need to improve its quality, so it brought in Elton Trueblood, professor of philosophy at Earlham College, who had written The Idea of A College which argued that colleges should focus on liberal arts over career preparation. Trueblood's visits in the mid-1970s inspired JBU to look for ideas in Arthur F. Holmes' Idea of a Christian College in which a Christian college seeks to integrate faith and learning.

Presidency of John E. Brown III 1979–1993

When John Brown Jr. stepped down as president, the job fell to his son, John Brown III, who immediately sought to improve the academic quality of the university. He visited Wheaton College (Illinois) and heralded its commitment to an integration of academic quality and Christian faith. To accompany his praise of Wheaton, he announced that the first consideration of JBU in selecting prospective students would be academic quality, and raising the entrance requirements. As expected, this began to attract more academically gifted students.[7]: 196–197  Also, in the 1980s, an Honors Program was established. However, the third Brown made sure to maintain JBU's historic emphasis on career training, through its non-liberal arts programs such as Engineering, Construction Management, and Graphic Design. As well as academic programs, John Brown III instituted new building programs and a scholarship for Latin American students paid for by Sam Walton.

Presidency of George F. Ford 1993–1994

John Brown III stepped down as president and was succeeded by George Ford, former Vice President of Roberts Wesleyan College, who left after less than a year because of internal difficulties with the university. During Ford's brief presidency, the university began offering an undergraduate degree completion program ("The Advance Program") in various locations in Northwest Arkansas.[8]

Presidency of Lee Balzer 1994–2004

The former president of Tabor College in Kansas, Lee Balzer, took office after the Ford controversy with a plan to expand the university's reach. He extended the Advance Program for non-traditional students in other cities by establishing branch centers in Fort Smith, Arkansas and Little Rock, Arkansas. During his presidency, JBU offered its first graduate degrees, initially in school counseling, and later including master's degrees in marriage and family therapy, leadership and ethics, business (MBA) and Christian ministry. The Center for Marriage and Family Studies[9] was established during the Balzer presidency. Under President Balzer, JBU also founded the Soderquist Center for Business Leadership and Ethics[10] to promote ethical principles in the business world. In addition, JBU's financial campaign at the end of the 1990s raised more than 39 million dollars to build Walker Student Center, Bell Science Hall, North Hall, and the Soderquist Business Center, all in the span of barely more than five years.[7]: 222 

Presidency of Charles Pollard 2004–present

In 2004, Balzer retired. JBU selected Charles (Chip) Pollard, then Professor of English at Calvin College, to take the office of president for the institution. Since taking office, Pollard has overseen an interior and exterior renovation of the Cathedral Group, the expansion of North Hall, growth in the student body to over 2,000 students, and general consolidation after the rapid expansion of the past decade. Pollard's most notable legacy will likely be his extremely successful expansion of the JBU endowment, upgrade of the facilities and successfully growing the school's enrollment. Under the leadership of Pollard, JBU has seen significant growth through a number of sizable financial gifts. Graduate programs expanded to include the Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, MA in Higher Education and MFA in Collaborative Design.

It was announced in early 2010, after receipt of an $8 million anonymous donation, that JBU would construct a new engineering and construction management building. The building was completed in 2011 and named the Balzer Technology Building in honor of the school's former president. Later that year, a JBU engineering student turned successful alumnus and businessman, Bill Berry, provided the financial gift for the Berry Performing Arts Center[11] which was completed in 2011. In 2012, it was announced that the Simmons family, owners of the privately held Simmons Foods located in Siloam Springs, would make a financial gift providing JBU with a new dining and gathering facility. The Simmons Great Hall was completed in mid-2013. The Health Education Building that houses the nursing department was completed in 2016.

Lifestyle standards

In the tradition of some other private Christian universities, John Brown University maintains a conservative set of lifestyle choices. Students sign a community covenant stating they will abstain from profanity, pornography, extramarital sexual activity, harassment, tobacco use, alcohol use, and gambling. The covenant also strictly prohibits LGBTQIA+ relationships on campus.[12] Staff and faculty are not required to sign this covenant but must sign a statement of employee expectations. However, the statement they sign includes that they do not believe in LGBTQIA+ relationships.

John Brown University made national news when it changed its long historically held position not to endorse dancing. In December 2006, the school sponsored its own swing-themed dance on campus.[13]

JBU made national news in early 2013 as it has become famous for its yearly toilet paper basketball game. ESPN did a special highlighting "The greatest technical foul in all of sports."


Campus entrance

John Brown University's main campus is located on 200 acres (0.81 km2) in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The university's most recognizable building, the Cathedral of the Ozarks, was completed in 1957 and, along with the two Windgate Visual Art Buildings composes the Cathedral group. The Cathedral contains a sanctuary for chapel and other assemblies, and the back portion is a three-floor academic building housing the music department and the humanities and social sciences. The entire Cathedral group was recently renovated on the inside and resurfaced with white limestone on the exterior.

Between the Cathedral group and Walker Student Center is the campus's main quad, which is used for recreation and relaxation by students. The student center itself houses a cafe, an open area for studying, bookstore, post office, and classrooms on the second floor. Attached to the student center is the Walker co-ed residence hall with male and female residents living on separate floors. There are three other residence halls on campus as well: J. Alvin Brown, an all-male dormitory and the oldest building on campus which was given a $6 million renovation in 2014; Mayfield, an all-female hall completing a $6 million renovation in 2018, and Hutcheson, a co-ed residence hall. Upperclassman and non-traditional student housing options include campus townhouses and the Northslope Apartments.

Other buildings on campus are the Bill George Arena, Soderquist Business Center, Bell Science Hall, Mabee Learning Resource Center, Chapman Administrative Building, Blood Memorial (Admissions) Building, Berry Performing Arts Center, Balzer Technology Center, CARE Clinic, Simmons Great Hall, Health Education Building, Peer-Andrus Studio & Project Barn and the Walton Lifetime Health Complex.


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[14]10
WSJ/College Pulse[16]337

John Brown University currently offers 41 undergraduate majors, with the most popular as of 2022-23 being Nursing, Psychology, Family and Human Service, Kinesiology and Graphic Design - 65.[2] As a liberal arts college,[7]: 140 [17] JBU requires all students to take a core curriculum of classes, which include several Bible classes, English, a foreign language requirement, science credit, the history of Western civilization, a math requirement, wellness, psychology, government, and philosophy. In the period from 2003 to 2012, JBU rose from eighth to first in U.S. News & World Report rankings for the Baccalaureate Colleges in the Southern region. In 2016, due to growth in graduate programs, the university was moved to the Regional Universities in the Souther region category of U.S. News. In 2022, JBU ranked number ten in this list.[18] JBU's Business department won first and second place at the Arkansas Governor's Cup Business Plan competition in 2007 and then in 2011 swept the Governor's Cup, receiving first, second, and third. In 2017, the JBU Enactus team won the U.S. National Championships and represented the U.S. at the Enactus World Cup in London. Its student newspaper, the Threefold Advocate, was named the best student newspaper in Arkansas in 2008 and 2010.[19] The University Honors Program has 200 student members, and is designed to allow students to take Honors versions of the necessary core classes, which are supposed to be more challenging and more encouraging of independent student research. JBU is one of the few small Christian colleges to offer comprehensive degrees in Graphic Design, Photography, and Digital Media. The libraries on campus house 120,000 volumes, and offer Interlibrary loan and tutoring assistance.

Associated centers

John Brown University has two endowed, associated centers: The Center for Healthy Relationships and The Center for Faith and Flourishing.


The John Brown (JBU) athletic teams are called the Golden Eagles. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) since the 1995–96 academic year; which they were a member on a previous stint from 1980–81 to 1982–83. The Golden Eagles previously competed in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) from 1993–94 to 1994–95; and as an NAIA Independent from 1983–84 to 1992–93.

JBU competes in 11 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, track & field and volleyball.


On March 22, 2005,[20] the JBU men's basketball team won the 2005 NAIA Division I National Championship. John Brown defeated Azusa Pacific University 65–55 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri.[21] Each year during the first home game, JBU basketball fans come armed with rolls...and rolls...of toilet paper, which they hurl onto the court after the first JBU basket of the season. This 34-year-old tradition brings in record crowds with approximately 2,000 rolls of toilet paper and lands JBU an automatic technical foul for the season.


The JBU varsity men's golf team was originally formed in 1966. The team lasted until 1973, at which time it was cut from the athletic program. The school restarted its men's varsity golf team in the fall of 2008 and remained intact until 2016.[22]


JBU began a cheer squad in the fall of 2010. JBU had cheerleading many years ago, but it only counted as a club then.

Club teams and intramurals

The university has club rugby, ultimate frisbee and esports teams for both men and women. The JBU Talons men's club baseball team began play in 2021. These clubs compete against clubs from other universities. To house its club teams, JBU has a rugby pitch and on campus. JBU also has a club ultimate frisbee team. JBU students also participate in a number of intramural sports, from soccer to volleyball to flag football to dodgeball. Many of these events take place on the intramural fields or in the Walton Lifetime Health Complex.

Notable alumni

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Notable former faculty


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2021. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2021 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY20 to FY21 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 18, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "JBU Facts". John Brown University. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  3. ^ Higher Learning Commission "John Brown University"
  4. ^ John Brown University Archives, "JBU's Founding Family: John Brown Sr"
  5. ^ a b c Kennedy, Ralph; Rothrock, Thomas (January 1, 1966). John Brown of Arkansas. John Brown University Press. ASIN B000OKBCS0.
  6. ^ JBU Archives October 2007 Newsletter
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ostrander, Rick (August 1, 2003). Head, Heart, and Hand: John Brown University and Modern Evangelical Higher Education. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1557287618.
  8. ^ "Advance Program to Help Working Adults," Brown Bulletin (Fall 1993), John Brown University
  9. ^ Center for Marriage and Family Studies
  10. ^ Soderquist Center for Business Leadership and Ethics
  11. ^ "JBU announces $5 million lead gift to Performing Arts Center". JBU. August 18, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "JBU Student Handbook, 2014-2015" Retrieved on 09-24-14
  13. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark. "The First Dance", The New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007. Accessed May 19, 2008
  14. ^ "Best Colleges 2023: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  15. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  16. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  17. ^ "Undergraduate Catalog, 2022-2023". Retrieved January 19, 2023. While JBU has traditionally emphasized preparation for well-defined careers, it has done so within the context of a liberal arts college.
  18. ^ "U.S. News College Rankings". Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  19. ^ JBU Degree Info Sheet
  20. ^ 2005 Bracket
  21. ^ "NAIA DI Men's Basketball 2005-06 Archives," Retrieved on 2008-2-15
  22. ^ Press Release: "JBU Revives Men's Golf Program," February 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-2-15
  23. ^ "Rodney 'Pete' Anderson's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  24. ^ "Jimmie Driftwood". CMT. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  25. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Janet Huckabee". US News. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  26. ^ "John Osteen". Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
  27. ^ "Rebecca Petty's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  28. ^ "Jim Winn Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  29. ^ "Tim C. Hutchinson (partner)". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  30. ^ "Mathew W. Pitsch". Retrieved April 10, 2015.

36°11′24″N 94°33′31″W / 36.19000°N 94.55861°W / 36.19000; -94.55861