Our History

Southwestern and The United Methodist Church

Southwestern stands in a United Methodist tradition of higher education. Nonsectarian and diverse in its collective life, Southwestern’s character is shaped by John Wesley’s famous appeal: “Let learning and vital piety be joined.”

A Great Tradition

The power of education to transform the lives of individuals, strengthen communities, and benefit the well-being of society has been at the heart of the Methodist movement since its 18th-century beginnings in England. The high value placed on education continues for the United Methodist Church today. Southwestern University extends the United Methodist commitment to education through the liberal-arts tradition. Critical thinking, oral and written expression, and collaborative research are central to our educational approach. Exploration of one’s own thinking, values, and commitments is encouraged, as is the respectful appreciation of the thinking, values, and commitments of others. Southwestern holds the first charter of an institution of higher education in Texas and is constituted by the six annual conferences of the United Methodist Church in Texas. Southwestern University furthers a great tradition in education as it continues to open hearts, minds, and doors for the transformation of the world. 

How Southwestern Expressed This Relationship

By virtue of its placement in the center of Southwestern’s campus, The Lois Perkins Chapel building symbolizes the rich tradition of undergraduate education in the United Methodist Church: helping students realize their fullest human potential within an intellectually challenging, nurturing, and inclusive community. Chapel Services are held each Thursday during the regular semester at 4:15 p.m. and are open to anyone who would like to attend.

Southwestern expresses its church relationship in other ways, including financial aid and scholarships to United Methodist students, non-United Methodist students, ethnic minority students, and other students. Concern for social issues, service, and activism is encouraged on campus.

Rather than making policies to “enforce” good decision-making, the University puts resources toward educational programming, well-thought-out policies, and face-to-face relationships that enhance and encourage healthy, moral decision-making for all its students and community.