For almost a century, Southwestern Assemblies of God University has been a steadfast beacon of faith and learning, shaped by the vision of our founder, P.C. Nelson. With immense pride, we officially announce the adoption of a new name for our beloved institution: Nelson University.

As we fully embrace our new identity, we invite you to explore and discover the reasons behind the name change and the exciting future that lies ahead. Together, we celebrate our rich heritage while embracing the possibilities of tomorrow. Join us on the dynamic journey-

Welcome to Nelson University!

Will the University’s core identity be changing?

President, Dr. Kermit Bridges

What impact will the name change have on the university’s brand, logo, mascot, or colors?

V.P. of Advancement, Rick Bowles

What is the time frame for the name change to take effect?

V.P. of Student Development, Dr. Lance Meche

How will the financial implications of this decision be addressed?

V.P. of Business and Finance, Jay Trewern

Why are we changing the name now?

V.P. of Academics, Dr. Kim Trewern

Understanding SAGU’s Transition to Nelson University

Our FAQs address your most pressing questions about SAGU’s exciting name change. From the reasons behind the decision to the impact on our community and beyond, we cover everything you need to know. This transition marks a significant milestone in our history. Whether you’re curious about the selection process, the timeline for implementation, or how this change might affect you, we’ve compiled answers to guide you through this transformative period. 

After a deliberate and prayerful process involving various stakeholders such as the Board of Regents, faculty, staff, donors, alumni, and students, the University has decided to change its name.

The decision stemmed from a four-year conversation initiated in 2020. Survey results indicated strong support for a name change, emphasizing improving employment opportunities, missionary access, fundraising, regional visibility, and recruitment without compromising the institution’s core values, including its affiliation with the Assemblies of God and its spiritual distinctiveness.

The change aims to reach more students in a Spirit-filled environment and make a more significant impact on the world. The University’s commitment to equipping students spiritually, academically, and professionally remains unwavering.

We have explored the possibility of changing our name many times during our nearly 100-year history. In fact, since its founding, the University has been known by several different names:

  • In 1927, P.C. Nelson founded Southwestern Bible School in Enid, OK.
  • In 1931, Shield of Faith Bible School was founded in Amarillo, TX, and Southern Bible Institute was founded in Houston, TX. The Amarillo and Houston schools merged in 1940 to become South Central Bible Institute (SCBI).
  • In 1941, the Enid School merged with SCBI to become Southwestern Bible Institute (SBI).
  • In 1963, SBI became Southwestern Assemblies of God College (SAGC).
  • In 1976, an alternate name to Southwestern was initially approved by the Board, but later tabled.
  • In 1996, as the institution set out to declare university status, a new direction was considered again for a name change before simply changing from SAGC to Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU).

With each change through the decades, our institution has expanded its influence while retaining its core identity. The board, alumni council, and the majority of our faculty and staff believe the University will again benefit from a name change as it approaches the centennial celebration in 2027 and prepares to step into the next 100 years.

The process we used was deliberate, prayerful, and thorough. Key points:

  • Four-Year Journey: We spent nearly four years gathering insights and opinions from our university community.
  • Expert Guidance: A professional naming firm joined us to ensure the new name reflects our rich heritage and history.
  • Community Involvement: Board members, alumni associations, faculty, staff, students, and donors all contributed their thoughts through surveys and focus groups.
  • Decision and Approval: In April 2023, the Board of Regents unanimously voted to adopt a new name. The United States Patent and Trademark Office gave its approval in October 2023.

This process has been a testament to our community’s dedication to preserving our past while steering toward a promising future.

Changing our university’s name takes time. Here’s how we’re making it happen:

  • A Thoughtful Process: We’re not rushing. Instead, we’re taking careful steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.
  • Engaging Our Community: Expect to see updates across digital and print platforms. We’ll be launching several campaigns to spread the word of our new name far and wide.  
  • Keeping You Informed: Transparency is key. We’ll share updates at every important step, keeping everyone in the loop.

The big switch happens on August 1, 2024. We’re working hard to have everything ready, but some updates may still be underway. We’re navigating this change together, inviting our entire community to be part of this exciting new chapter.

Our new name won’t alter the core essence of who we are.

While the new name will not include “Assemblies of God,”  our deep-rooted commitment to our fellowship with the Assemblies of God and our shared convictions remain unchanged. 

The name “Nelson University” is a nod to our founder, the late Peter Christopher Nelson, whose life story was guided and based on the same AG principles. 

The transition from Southwestern Assemblies of God University to Nelson University marks an exciting chapter in our institution’s rich history, one deeply rooted in our founder’s visionary legacy. From our institution’s inception in 1927, P.C. Nelson championed a holistic vision to equip students for diverse roles in ministry and the marketplace. His timeless vision aimed to deepen students’ understanding of the Word of God and nurture a closeness with Christ, fostering individuals ready to serve in various capacities, from the church to the marketplace to global missions.

Reflecting on our heritage, it’s evident that our institution has consistently aligned with P.C. Nelson’s forward-thinking philosophy. The ethos encapsulated in his statement, “The whole Gospel, for the whole world,” has resonated through the decades. It echoes in our contemporary efforts to empower students as influential leaders, imbued with the Spirit, impacting society and fulfilling the Great Commission.

The decision to transition our beloved institution’s name to Nelson University is a testament to our commitment to the values and principles embedded in our foundation. This shift does not alter our core identity but positions us strategically for the future. It honors the visionary contributions of P.C. Nelson, aligning with the historic tradition of naming educational institutions after prominent figures.

Together, we eagerly anticipate the unfolding of this new chapter and the remarkable days that await us as Nelson University.

Our institution boasts a century of history, marked by three transformative name changes. The decision to rebrand is not a random choice but a strategic move to position the institution for the next 100 years of success.

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, embracing a new name signals our commitment to adapt and thrive. The timing is critical, aligning with the present to better cater to the evolving needs of current and future students, ensuring our continued relevance in academia and the faith community.

The decision synchronizes with a broader shift in the faith community away from denominational names. This strategic move is not just about staying current — it’s a response to contemporary changes, preserving our spiritual heritage while meeting the dynamic academic and spiritual needs of our students and the world.

This moment allows us to unite our community under a shared vision for academics, emphasizing “work-ready” skills. The name change serves as a catalyst that fosters collective involvement and maintains a shared purpose and unity among our community members. The urgency stems from the contemporary demand for students to possess skills making them highly employable in today’s job market.

The timing of this name change couldn’t be more perfect as it aligns seamlessly with our upcoming centennial celebration in 2027. 

The university’s leadership stands firmly confident that this change will strategically position our institution for a successful future, offering benefits that far outweigh any associated costs. The costs associated with this strategic action will be spread over many years. Several key leaders have donated large gifts to initiate and underwrite this process, demonstrating their dedication to this pivotal transition. 

We continue to work to add to these initial commitments, and ongoing fundraising initiatives are underway. Visionary leaders recognize this investment opportunity and are eager to contribute. This financial strategy has been designed to carefully steward the investment. Make no mistake — these are pivotal investments into the long-term success of this University, and we are confident they will pay God-designed dividends. 

Our institution’s rich history is full of testimonies of unwavering faith and individuals who specifically prayed for divine provision during times of financial need. Their trust and reliance on God’s divine guidance carried them through and yielded incredible breakthroughs for the University. As we reflect on the spiritual heritage upon which this university was built, we are now moving ahead with that same trust and dependence on God. Without a doubt, we are faithfully confident that He will continue to bring in provision from His storehouse. 

The following factors have served as an impetus for the name change: 

  • Including “Assemblies of God” in the current name poses potential barriers to prospective students who would be a great fit for the University but are unfamiliar with the AG denomination and never pause to explore who we are.
  • Including “Assemblies of God” in the current name poses potential barriers for missionaries wishing to enter closed countries or job-seekers wanting to obtain secular careers.
  • The current name, Southwestern Assemblies of God University, is quite lengthy at 37 characters. This can be tedious to write out on job applications or limited-space forms.
  • The different pronunciations and letter inflection placement in “SAGU” yield several iterations, causing discrepancies and confusion.

We are working hand-in-hand with our branding partners to ensure that our new university brand stays true to who we are at the core. Purple will remain our primary school color, and our beloved Lion mascot, Judah, symbolizing strength and resilience, will remain unchanged. 

As we craft and refine each aspect of the Nelson University brand, we look forward to introducing a visual representation reflecting our commitment to excellence. ​​As we begin to unveil our new identity, we’re taking the opportunity to introduce our centennial vision to a broader audience. 

Our primary focus is ensuring a steady influx of new students in the coming years while retaining our existing student body, so that our University can continue to grow and shape the future. 

Your academic achievements will hold their value, whether under our old name, “Southwestern Assemblies of God University” (SAGU), or the new name, “Nelson University.” All existing diplomas remain valid official documents.

Starting in the fall of 2024, all graduating students will receive diplomas bearing the name “Nelson University.” If you are fall 2024 graduate and wish to have “Southwestern Assemblies of God” on your diploma instead, please contact the registrars office.

If you are an alum who would like to replace a SAGU diploma with a Nelson University diploma, we’re happy to reissue it upon request beginning in fall 2024. Interested alum can reach out to the Registrar’s Office ([email protected]) to request a replacement diploma request form. A nominal fee that covers the cost of printing and processing will apply. Orders will be processed and shipped as quickly as possible beginning in early fall. Thank you for your patience – we are excited to provide you with the opportunity to have a Nelson University diploma.


You don’t need to change our university’s name on your CV or resume. The value of your degree remains intact, regardless of our name change. However, if you want to highlight our institution’s most current name for clarity or showcase the recent update, feel free to list both the new and former names. For example: 

Nelson University (formerly Southwestern Assemblies of God University)

This method helps those familiar with our previous name understand the transition while ensuring your credentials are up-to-date. Remember, updating your CV or resume with “Nelson University” is optional, not required.

Yes. The new address will be The transition to a new web address involves technical changes to the domain name, and the university’s IT and marketing departments are handling this process.

The University will communicate the new web address to its stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public. This information will be shared through official communications, announcements on the existing website, social media, emails, and other channels to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid confusion among users.

The name change will not directly impact the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application process for students. The FAFSA relies on the school code the U.S. Department of Education has assigned, which remains unchanged despite a university’s name change. The code used for our university will continue to be 003616. Students can also confirm the accurate school code by checking the FAFSA website to avoid confusion during the application process.

Our partner sites will continue to receive the same level of support and partnership from our institution. Partner sites that previously utilized the SAGU name would replace SAGU with “Nelson,” and the appropriate title. For example,  SAGU Valor would become Nelson Valor. 

We are working on a solid plan together with our consulting partners for how to communicate the changes in the most effective and informative way possible. Because this is a multi-step process, the communications will take place in various forms (digital and print) and over a period of time so that we can be sure to keep everyone informed and up to date. Stay tuned for updates!

This will allow us to maintain consistency and align with our new name and brand. We value our partnerships and look forward to continuing to partner together to achieve our mission of advancing the kingdom.

Yes. We will update our website and social media accounts to reflect our new name. This process will involve updating a wide range of materials and platforms, from our website to our official social media accounts and beyond. 

To ensure that this process is as smooth and efficient as possible, we will establish an internal task force that will work closely with outside professionals to develop a comprehensive plan for updating all of our materials and platforms in a timely and effective manner. 

We understand that this will be a significant undertaking, but ensuring that our new identity is reflected consistently across all of our communications and outreach efforts is important. This complex process will require time and effort to execute correctly. We ask for patience as we work to ensure that all changes are made professionally and efficiently.

No. The University’s status of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees will remain unchanged. For a full list of the University’s accreditations and memberships, please visit

No, the name change will not affect athletics, and our athletic department will continue to excel in physical effort, self-discipline, and Christian testimony in the arena of sports.

Employees and students should update their resumes or LinkedIn profiles to reflect our new name. Doing so helps maintain accuracy and clarity for anyone viewing their profiles or resumes.

However, to ensure a seamless transition and to avoid confusion, consider using both the old and new names for a transitional period. For instance, list employment history with the “Southwestern Assemblies of God University” followed by a notation indicating the name change and “Nelson University.” This acknowledges our institution’s history while emphasizing our current identity. For example:

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (now known as Nelson University)


Nelson University (previously Southwestern Assemblies of God University)

Over time, as the new name becomes more established, consider phasing out the reference to SAGU. 


Harrison Graduate School will become Nelson Graduate School.