Faculty Spotlight Dr. Swenson By: Gretchen Cobble

Updated: Mar 19

This week’s faculty spotlight had the privilege of landing on Dr. John Eric Swenson III, professor of psychology and counseling here at Hardin-Simmons University. Dr. Swenson also spoke at HSU Chapel a few weeks ago on mental health and his testimony.

Dr. Swenson is from Spur, Texas, and did not originally plan to land in the HSU Psychology and Counseling Department. He graduated from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business. After five and a half years of banking, Dr. Swenson battled with severe depression and anxiety, which is a significant part of his testimony today.

After receiving help from a psychologist, his interest in psychology began to bloom. Dr. Swenson decided to pursue his newfound passion for helping others and received his Master’s in Counseling/Clinical Psychology from ACU. He began to work for the Abilene State Supported Living Center, and later applied and was accepted into the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. Following his three years in Memphis, Dr. Swenson moved to San Antonio, where he completed a one-year residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center. After this, he completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Child Guidance Center of San Antonio.

Dr. Swenson continued his career in New Braunfels, Texas, where he was in private practice for two years and later married his wife, Rhonda. The newly married couple moved to Abilene to be closer to home in order to raise their children near their family ranch, which is about 30 miles from Abilene on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Dr. Swenson taught at McMurry University for approximately seven years before taking a job here at Hardin-Simmons, where he now teaches full-time.

When asked about his favorite thing at HSU, Dr. Swenson replied, “My colleagues and my students by far. I get energy from teaching my students, and I feel like I’m enlarging what God has designed me to do. I feel very blessed to be able to do that.”

While away from campus, Dr. Swenson loves to spend his free time outdoors with his wife and two sons, John Eric IV (14) and Jake (12), especially while fishing and quail hunting on their property. He also has two Brittany Spaniel dogs he loves to train and hunt with.

When asked what kinds of things he holds most dear, Dr. Swenson replied, “Faith in the Lord. I certainly don’t live this out perfectly, but I hope that’s the lens I project my life through.” His family and performing his job well to the best of his ability are also things Dr. Swenson holds dear.


Dr. Swenson’s chapel message and work with his students testifies to the goodness and grace of God, and Hardin-Simmons is blessed to have him serving on campus.

You can access the Chapel video of Dr. Swenson’s message on Jan. 19, 2021, on Canvas under “HSU Chapel” and then clicking “Modules” or by clicking here.