General Information

University Mission, Vision and Identity Statement 

Michael J. Beals, Ph.D., President

The mission of Vanguard University is to pursue knowledge, cultivate character, deepen faith, and equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service.

The vision of Vanguard University is to be a nationally recognized leader in Christian higher education by cultivating academic excellence, character development and global perspective as seeds of greatness in the life of every student.

Affiliated with the Assemblies of God in Southern California, the university embraces the Assemblies of God doctrinal statement and its Pentecostal heritage of Spirit-empowered life and thought. Faculty, staff, and students display considerable diversity in denominational affiliation, cultural expression, and academic pursuits. Together they affirm the authority of Scripture, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and belief that human nature, though marred by sin, enjoys nevertheless the potential of personal redemption through God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. From this Evangelical and Pentecostal perspective, the Vanguard community commits itself to global Christian witness and to faithfully serving our communities, our nation, and our world in Christ’s name, embracing the values of Truth, Virtue, and Service.

The University believes that scholarship in the arts, sciences, and professional studies illuminated by Christian truth fosters the intellectual development, moral maturity, and spiritual vitality of students. A Vanguard education, therefore, promotes the integration of faith, learning, and living.

The University is committed to providing professor-mentors that live in dynamic community with students. A hallmark of a Vanguard education is the emphasis on the relational and collaborative nature of learning. Caring and supportive relationships among students, faculty and staff provide opportunities for persons to share their faith journeys, to explore their hopes, and to nourish their souls. The community provides a safe and exciting place where we believe the Holy Spirit inspires and empowers scholarship, creative expression, witness, service, and exploration of God’s world.


Vanguard University (VU) is a private, coeducational, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies that believes its Spirit-empowered Christian community provides a supportive and challenging environment in which to pursue a quality education. The University assumes that it is essential to offer educational opportunity within a context of free inquiry and academic integrity. Such opportunity includes examining the Christian heritage, the claims of Christ, the charismatic involvement of the church, and the revelation of God. VU is a community that encourages individual integrity and responsibility in accordance with biblical Christianity and its social and ethical implications.

As a small community— approximately 2,200 within the student body, faculty, staff, and administration—the University offers a relational culture where professor-mentors serve students. The student/faculty ratio is 17:1. Most classes are small, which allows opportunity for academic inquiry and the personal interaction which is invaluable for learning.


During the Summer of 1920, Harold K. Needham, D. W. Kerr, and W. C. Peirce opened a school to prepare Christian workers for the various ministries of the church. The new institute, Southern California Bible School, moved from Los Angeles to Pasadena in 1927. In 1939 it was chartered by the State of California as a college eligible to grant degrees, and it became Southern California Bible College—the first four-year institution of the Assemblies of God. In 1943 the college received recognition by the government for the training of military chaplains. It moved to the present campus in 1950. The name was changed to Southern California College nine years later when majors in the liberal arts were added to the curriculum.

Regional accreditation and membership in the Western Association of Schools and Colleges were granted in 1964. In 1967 the College received recognition and approval of its teaching credential program from the California State Board of Education. In June 1983 the Graduate Studies Program received approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A Degree Completion Program was started in 1994 for adult learners. On July 1, 1999, university status was achieved when Southern California College registered with the Secretary of State’s Office as Vanguard University of Southern California. The University is comprised of the College and the School for Graduate and Professional Studies.

In addition to its founding president, Harold K. Needham, Vanguard University has had the able leadership of nine presidents: Daniel Kerr, Irvine J. Harrison, John B. Scott, O. Cope Budge, Emil A. Balliet, Wayne E. Kraiss, Murray W. Dempster, Carol A. Taylor and Michael J. Beals.

For more than ninety years, Vanguard University has been a leader in educational innovation within its denomination, preparing students for all types of ministry and professional vocations. As a Christian university, Vanguard is constantly seeking to expand its influence and service through education that provides excellence without compromise for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Institutional Values

The vision that guides the Vanguard community is rooted in the University’s heritage as an institution of the Pentecostal tradition which was birthed out of the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, at the turn of the twentieth century. From its inception, the movement generated a multicultural, multiracial, and gender-inclusive community of Spirit-empowered Christian believers who were committed to peacemaking and reconciliation. With global consciousness, these foremothers and forefathers of a renewed Christian faith carried the good news of the gospel around the world.

A strong commitment to cultural diversity, racial reconciliation, and gender equality is a consequence of Vanguard University being deeply grounded in the faith tradition that brought the University into existence. Moreover, these core values continue to define the institutional vision that pulls the Vanguard community forward toward its mission and educational targets and goals. Within this Christian context of inclusiveness, the University aims to provide a quality educational experience marked by the pursuit of truth, the cultivation of virtue, and the desire for service.

These three values inherent in the Vanguard University educational experience—truth, virtue, and service—are enshrined in the University motto and embossed on its official seal.


As members of the Vanguard community we strive to . . .

  • pursue truth by understanding the Word of God and by knowing Christ, who is Truth;
  • develop critical and creative thinking skills for careful, reasoned, and independent analysis of competing ideas;
  • engage in scholarship with integrity and excellence; and
  • explore, participate in, and contribute to our cultural, intellectual, and spiritual heritage.


As members of the Vanguard community we endeavor to . . .

  • honor God and commit ourselves to the person and model of Jesus Christ;
  • develop personal integrity and character by applying biblical values to our lives;
  • understand and accept the responsibilities of living in a free society; and
  • transcend the limitations and errors of the prevailing culture, and through a wholeness of vision, choose and hold to the path for a righteous life.


As members of the Vanguard community we work to . . .

  • develop our talents to their potential and discern God’s purpose for our lives;
  • strengthen the skills necessary for effective communication of ideas and for a productive place in society;
  • prepare students for diverse vocations, graduate programs, and leadership roles; and
  • exercise civic responsibility, respect cultural and individual differences, and care for others.

In order to develop continuously as an inclusive community growing in truth, virtue, and service, the University invites its members to a life lived in response to the claims of the Kingdom of God, in which the transcendent realities of the gospel are brought to bear on the real life challenges which they face as citizens of the twenty-first century.

Institutional Learning Outcomes

Vanguard University has six Institutional Learning Outcomes to demonstrate core competencies: integration of faith and learning, cultural competency and citizenship, communication, critical thinking, holistic living, and information competency.  Further discussion can be found in the Core Curriculum section of this catalog.

Faith Confession

As a Christian comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies, informed by its evangelical persuasion and Pentecostal heritage, aligned with the General Council for the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO), Vanguard University affirms the following confession of faith.

We believe . . .

  • the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible and authoritative Word of God.
  • that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  • in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his virgin birth, in his sinless life, in his miracles, in his vicarious and atoning death, in his bodily resurrection, in his ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in his personal, future return to this earth in power and glory to rule over the nations.
  • that the only means of being cleansed from sin is through repentance and faith in the precious blood of Christ.
  • that regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential for personal salvation.
  • that the redemptive work of Christ on the cross provides healing of the human body in answer to believing prayer.
  • that the baptism in the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:4, is given to believers who seek it.
  • in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a holy life.
  • in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, the one to everlasting life and the other to everlasting damnation.

Religious Expression Disclosure

Vanguard University (VU) is a private, coeducational, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies that believes its Spirit-empowered Christian community provides a supportive and challenging environment in which to pursue a quality education. The University assumes that it is essential to offer educational opportunity within a context of free inquiry and academic integrity. VU is a community that encourages individual integrity and responsibility in accordance with biblical Christianity and its social and ethical implications.

VU is committed to providing a learning and living environment that promotes safety, transparency, personal integrity, civility, mutual respect and freedom from discrimination. As a Christian university affiliated with the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God, VU is exempted from certain provisions of federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the California Equity in Higher Education Act that are not consistent with its religious tenets and mission. These exemptions may apply to, but are not limited to, requirements in the university’s community standards, housing policies, admissions processes, and employee hiring and general employment practices. VU retains all rights afforded under federal law and the laws of the State of California.

Statement on Diversity

Vanguard University believes a core component of our purpose is to cultivate Spirit-empowered and Christ-centered leaders of the 21st century through Scripture teachings and practices which promote Diversity and Inclusion.  Through our mission, vision and institutional learning outcomes we purposely strive to cultivate an inclusive community that fosters respect for people, participation in advocacy and awareness of social justice related issues. As members of the Body of Christ, we actively engage in the exploration and celebration of differences amongst our individual community members. This commitment to diversity is grounded not simply in the current cultural zeitgeist but in what the Christian scriptures have to say about:

  1. all human beings being created in the imago Dei—image of God—(Genesis 1:27; 9:6);
  2. the come and coming kingdom of God being made up of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9); and
  3. the present need for the members of Christ’s body to recognize their need for one another in order to accomplish the will of God (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

Moreover, this commitment to diversity is further fueled by the clear teaching of Scripture that God wills that his people care deeply about justice and boldly advocate for the fair and loving treatment of all members of society (e.g., Exodus 23:6; Leviticus 19:15; Psalm 140:12; Proverbs 29:7; Ezekiel 22:29; Amos 5:12; Matthew 12:18; 23:23).

The term diversity is defined by differences in physical appearance, ability, background, perspectives, and beliefs. At Vanguard University, we believe that a biblically and theologically informed understanding of diversity mandates that we do our best to overcome any form of discrimination with respect to race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, national and geographical origin, religion, ability, gender, political ideology, participation or non-participation in the military, and age.

Our commitment to diversity stems from our belief God created everyone with dignity with a plan to be connected to others and only judged by Him.  Therefore, in humility we teach the importance of respect for every individual’s unique story and interpretation of the world from their historically and culturally different purview.  We are purposeful in fostering an environment where students feel empowered to share their perspectives, experiences, practices, values and beliefs. Though committed to the authority of Scripture, the lordship of the risen Jesus, and the need to do our best to “keep in step” with the Holy Spirit, we aim to function as an inclusive community which welcomes authentic dialogue and critical thinking toward the development of the cultural competency skills necessary for successful leaders committed to lives of truth, virtue, and service in a global society.   

Without losing sight of our commitment to the fulfilling of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Vanguard staff, faculty, and administration, strive to excel in the curricular and co-curricular collaboration required to expose our students to the diverse ideologies and complex issues of twenty-first century pluralistic society. We will employ best practices to cultivate an atmosphere of cultural appreciation and awareness of the intersectionality among the various layers of diversity. Our student programming, discussion forums, trainings, and seminars will generate understanding and prepare students to succeed spiritually, morally, missionally, professionally and personally in the global marketplace, where people, perspectives and practices may vary from their own. Finally, Vanguard University will equip our students with the tools to live out Micah 6:8, “…to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.”


Vanguard University is a member of and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the regional accrediting body for colleges and universities in California. The university also holds special accreditations for the following programs: 

Vanguard Unviersity is also endorsed by The Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education (AAGHE).

Institutional Affiliations

Vanguard University holds institutional membership with the following associations:  Association of Governing Boards (AGB); Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU); Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU); Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA); Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).


Vanguard University is located in the central Orange County coastal city of Costa Mesa, adjacent to State Route 55 at Fair Drive. Minutes from California state beaches and within a 60-to-90-minute drive of Los Angeles and San Diego, Vanguard University extends students the opportunity to explore living in Southern California while contributing actively to residential life. In addition to on-campus chapel worship, students can attend numerous church communities in the local area and continue their education at scores of libraries, museums and cultural points of interest throughout the region. The temperate climate of Costa Mesa enables students to access year-round outdoor activities, making Orange County an ideal place to learn and live. In addition, Orange County affords students excellent prospects for work and career advancement during their Vanguard University experience and following graduation.

Campus and Buildings

The main university campus, located in Costa Mesa, California, covers nearly forty acres. Major campus buildings include the John B. Scott Academic Center, Heath Academic Center, Smith Hall, Harold K. Needham Memorial Prayer Chapel, O. Cope Budge Library, Psychology and Social Science Offices, Fine Arts Offices, Lyceum Studio Theatre, Natural Science Offices with laboratories for the physical and biological sciences, Gymnasium, Dining Commons, and Bookstore, Information Technology and Mailroom & Copy Center, Human Resources, Facilities Building, and a series of Athletic fields hosting the baseball, softball, soccer, and sand volleyball programs. Additionally, the university campus has five residence facilities: Balboa Hall, Catalina Hall, Huntington Hall, Laguna Hall, and Newport Hall. Vanguard Centre, comprised of four separate residence buildings, is in close proximity to the University campus, also provides an opportunity for student housing. In addition to the main campus, additional locations for academic and administrative programs include Bakersfield, Fullerton, and Santa Ana, California.

University Institutes and Centers

Vanguard University is committed to preparing students through an education marked by academic excellence and spiritual vitality for productive service in a variety of vocations and ministries that are matched to the marketplace of the 21st century. In casting the vision of its preferred future as a leading Christian university, VU draws upon its distinctive Pentecostal heritage to advance an adventurous spirit that forges partnerships between the university, the church, and the community in promoting Christian witness, scholarship, civic responsibility, and social transformation. A strong commitment to cultural diversity, racial reconciliation, and gender equality is a consequence of VU being deeply grounded in the Pentecostal faith, a tradition that brought the university into existence. These core values continue to define the university’s institutional vision. Within this Christian context of inclusiveness, the university aims to provide a quality educational experience marked by the pursuit of truth, the cultivation of character, and the desire for service. The following institutes and centers help to advance the University’s mission.

The Global Center for Women and Justice

Sandra Morgan, Ph.D., Director

The Global Center for Women and Justice exists to advance the global status of women through education, advocacy, and collaboration. The Center promotes gender reconciliation and the inherent dignity of all persons. Through education, the Center promotes the importance of delivering evidence-based knowledge in various formats that will effect change in global culture to empower women in leadership, economic justice, and reduce endemic violence against women. Through advocacy, the Center recognizes that knowledge leads to praxis and works on behalf of marginalized and victimized women at home and globally to promote dignity, value, and justice. Through collaboration, the Center builds community relationships and provides resources to network with others to advance the global status of women and justice.

The Judkins Institute for Leadership Studies 

Douglas Petersen, Ph.D., Executive Director
Roger Heuser, Ph.D., Director, Leadership and Spirituality

Our Mission

The Judkins Institute for Leadership Studies promotes leadership, which develops the spirit, character and ethics of purposeful and transformative organizations.

Our Vision

We strive to be a growing, diverse learning community of business, community and religious leaders who join together in dialogue and action in order to transform our enterprises through justice and compassion.

Our Strategic Priorities

In collaborating with leadership partners in business, community and religious organizations; we:

  1. conduct research;
  2. promote the formation of leaders; and
  3. develop resources.

The Lewis Wilson Institute for Pentecostal Studies

Jonathan Allbaugh, Ph.D., Director and Dean of Missional Effectiveness

The Lewis Wilson Institute for Pentecostal Studies encourages and supports the study of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. The Institute serves as a conference and research center for scholars, church leaders, students and others who are interested in probing the historical significance and contemporary global role of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movements. Activities of the Institute include: sponsoring lectureships, seminars and roundtables and an annual Pentecostal Leaders Series; overseeing a Pentecostal bibliographic collection; encouraging undergraduate and graduate study in Pentecostalism; publishing occasional monographs and other materials pertinent to the study of Pentecostalism. The Lewis Wilson Institute for Pentecostal Studies is named in the honor of Professor Lewis Wilson, who retired at the end of the 1994-95 academic year after offering twenty-eight years of service at the College, and over forty years of continuous service as an Assemblies of God and Pentecostal educator.