History of the School of Business

School of Business History - Southern Nazarene University, Bethany, Oklahoma
History of the SNU School of Business

History of Southern Nazarene University School of Business The birth of the Southern Nazarene University’s business program dates to 1944 when an undergraduate degree in business [education] economics was added to the offerings of the then named Bethany-Peniel College. The newly created Business Department was first headed by Dr. Donald Danskin. In 1947, the first degree was bestowed upon Marjorie Dickerson Shellenberger. Dr. Danskin served as Chair for the Business Department from 1944 to 1950. Dr. Norman Miller succeeded Dr. Danskin, serving from 1950 to 1952. Dr. Danskin served a second term as Chair for the Business Department from 1952 to 1958. Dr. Stan Parry followed, serving from 1958 to 1960. In 1955-56, Bethany-Peniel College was first accredited by the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools (NCA). Later, in 1956, Bethany-Peniel College adopted a new name, Bethany Nazarene College. 

In 1960, Dr. Elmer Shellenberger became the fourth department chair. The next three decades would see an explosive growth of business majors to become the largest segment of all campus majors. Under Dr. Shellenberger’s leadership, undergraduate degrees were added in business administration, accounting, marketing, management, and aviation-business. Also, the graduate program was introduced with the beginnings of the Master of Science in Management degree. In 1987, Bethany Nazarene College became Southern Nazarene University. In 1989, the Business Department became the School of Business. Also, in 1989, Dr. Larry Mills took the helm as the fifth leader in the forty-five year history of the business program.

During the 90’s, under Dr. Mills’ leadership, an undergraduate degree in finance and a graduate degree in business administration were added. Also, in this decade, co-curricular beginnings of the Student Board of Directors, Chat with the Executive, Mock Interviews, and Ultimate Challenge were instituted. An intensified focus on service orientation was highlighted through the efforts and direction of Dr. Mills and his wife, Judy Hancock Mills, primarily through their association with Angel Tree/Angel Care. To facilitate Dr. Mills’ desire to return to full-time teaching, Professor Cindy Powell served as interim chair from 2003 to 2005. 

In 2005, Dr. Thomas Herskowitz became the Chair for the School of Business. Under his direction, in 2009-10, the School of Business was first accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP), a global specialized business education accreditation association.  Dr. Herskowitz served as chair from 2005-2012.  Retiring to Belise, Dr. Herskowitz continued to serve SNU as an adjunct professor and Director of the Morningstar Institute.

In the fall of 2012, Dr. Randall Spindle assumed the role of Interim Chair.  He served well in that capacity from 2012-2015.  The summer of 2015 brought the seventh leader to the School of Business, Professor Brent LaVigne.  In assuming the leadership position, he became the youngest chair in the seventy-one year history of the School of Business.

The School of Business continues to house one of the largest numbers of majors chosen within the university. While striving to discern the Christian perspective, the eyes of the School of Business are on the future with a continued quest to be the finest of professional business school programs. The School of Business remains committed to its motto, “Bringing the Mind of Christ to the World of Business”.

*Southern Nazarene University is accredited by

The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.
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