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Bellevue University
Bellevue University.jpg
Motto Real Learning for Real Life
Established 1966
Type Private
Endowment $28.07 Million USD
President Mary Hawkins
Students 8,278[1]
Undergraduates 5,790
Postgraduates 2,488
Location Bellevue, Nebraska, USUnited States
Campus Suburban
Colors Royal Purple & Gold          
Nickname Bruins
Website Bellevue University

Bellevue University, founded in 1966, is a not-for-profit educational institution located in Bellevue, Nebraska.



When Bill Brooks met with his fellow members of the Bellevue, Nebraska, Chamber of Commerce in June 1965, the No. 1 agenda item was discussion of creating a new college in Bellevue. The time and place were perfect, he reasoned, as Bellevue was a growing city, home to Offutt Air Force Base as well as a large contingent of potential college-age students. This became a practical idea because it was not always an option for many of these young adults to travel north to the University of Omaha.[2]

Bellevue College opened its door in 1966 with just three full-time faculty and four staff members. All classes were held in the administration building, which the college bought from International Telephone and Telegraph.[2] From the beginning, the college sought to accommodate adult students, offering evening classes in three, 12-week sessions throughout the year. During the first year 355 students attended these evening classes; 54 students took daytime classes. That first year, students at Bellevue College paid $17 per credit hour. Dr. Sam Sollenberger was named the first president of Bellevue College. Dr. Sollenberger came to Bellevue College from the University of Omaha, where he was the assistant dean of the College of Adult Education. The school held its first commence ceremony on July 29, 1967, on land near Fontenelle Forest that overlooked the Missouri River. A flatbed trailer serves as the stage, and 400 guests looked on as the first 37 degrees were conferred.[2]

In 1968, Bellevue College saw opportunities for growth and the need for a change in leadership. Richard Winchell, a history professor who had recently joined the college as a full-time faculty member stepped up as the school's second president. His first goals for Bellevue College were to increase student enrollment, degrees offered and donations to help grow the school. In 1974 it became the fourth largest private university in the state of Nebraska. Between 1969 and 1974, the college built a gymnasium, a student center, and a library. Students and employees borrowed shopping carts from the supermarket across the street to move some 30,000 books form the old library inside the administration building, into the new facility.[3]

In 1977, Bellevue College reached a major milestone: The school, just over 10 years old, earned full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Bellevue College earned this distinction faster than any college in Nebraska history.

Throughout the 1980s the school saw continued expansion.[3] The college built the humanities building, expanded the library, and finished construction of what was thought of at the time as the crown jewel of the campus; The 1.3 million dollar student center. Enrollment also grew, with nearly 3,000 students attending Bellevue College in 1983. By the mid-1980s, higher education had changed in the Omaha metro area. Metro Tech Community College continued to cater heavily to adult students, but now other schools followed that trend as well. The University of Nebraska-Omaha, Creighton University, and the College of Saint Mary all expanded their class offerings in an effort to attract working adults back to school. Into this uncertain time came the college's third president, Dr John Muller. Dr. Muller took over as president in 1985 after the resignation of Richard Winchell. Dr. Muller quickly realized that Bellevue College could not continue with business as usual. On May 20, 1987, the College Board of Directors met to discuss the possibility of closing the school.[3] Dr. Muller convinced the board that Bellevue College was worth saving, and he refocused the school on degree completions, service to students and an entrepreneurial spirit that continues to drive the school to this day. In 1987, the college offered its first accelerated bachelor's degree program under the direction of then Vice President Jon B. Kayne, Ph.D., and in 1990 it offered its first master's degree program. With these accomplishments by Dr. Muller and Dr. Kayne, the school continued to grow and in 1994 Bellevue College became Bellevue University. This change was seen as an important sign as increasing prestige and credibility.

in 1998, the University opened the Lozier Professional Center in west Omaha. A year later, the Riley Technology Center was constructed on the main campus. In 2001, the University opened the Lakeside Center. Between 2002 and 2004, the University embarked on the "Invest in Success" campaign. As part of this bold initiative, the school renovated the library, the humanities center, the athletic center, and the student center. Then in 2006, Bellevue University made the most drastic improvement to its campus in 40 years. The 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) Educational Services building.[3] The facility hosts classroom, offices, and faculty space. In forty years there has been many changes and the school now has over 7,000 students in numerous undergraduate and graduate programs.[3]


The University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Business degrees at Bellevue University are also accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

South Omaha Outreach Program

The South Omaha Outreach Program is a program created by Bellevue University that is centered around enrolling, retaining, and educating residents of South Omaha and Bellevue. The two towns are in the Eastern part of Nebraska. Both South Omaha and Bellevue are a culturally and economically diverse section of the greater Omaha area includes many Latino and low-income families. Bellevue University's main campus is located just a few miles from South Omaha, providing a small-school atmosphere close to home, work, and family.

High School Outreach

In 2007, Bellevue University launched its own high school outreach program. It is primarily aimed at high schoolers throughout the midwest. It gives students an opportunity to begin school immediately after high school and obtain a bachelor's degree within 3 years. Students take part in 'enhanced' courses that combine in-class and online learning.


Bellevue University's athletic teams are known as the Bruins. They compete in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference of the NAIA. They compete in three men's sports and three women's sports. Men compete in baseball, basketball, and soccer. Women compete in soccer, softball and volleyball.

In 1995, Bellevue University won the NAIA Baseball World Series.


Dr. Mary Hawkins is the fourth president of Bellevue University. The president is the chief executive officer of the college and is responsible for the success of the college's mission in providing superior academic programs and research.

President Tenure
Dr. Sam Sollenberger 1966-1968
Richard Winchell 1968-1985
Dr. John Muller 1985-2009
Dr. Mary Hawkins 2009- Present

Notable alumni

Alumni Class Notability
T.J. Bohn 2002 Major League Baseball player (Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies)




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