Gardner–Webb University (Gardner–Webb, GWU, or GW) is a private Baptist university in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Founded as Boiling Springs High School in 1905 as a Baptist institution, it is the youngest Baptist university in North Carolina. It is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
|Motto||Pro Deo et Humanitate|
Motto in English
|For God and Humanity|
|Type|| • Private|
|Baptist State Convention of North Carolina|
|President||Dr. William Downs|
|Provost||Dr. Benjamin Leslie|
|Colors||Scarlet and Black|
|NCAA Division I – Big South Conference|
|Mascot||Mac the Bulldog|
Over 4,500 students attend Gardner–Webb, including both undergraduates and graduates. A total of five professional schools, two academic schools, and 11 academic departments offer nearly 60 fields of study, and GWU's online programs have won recognition. GWU's Runnin' Bulldogs compete in NCAA Division I as a member of the Big South Conference.
On December 2, 1905, the Boiling Springs High School was chartered as a result of an initiative sponsored by the Kings Mountain Baptist Association (Cleveland County) and the Sandy Run Baptist Association (Rutherford County). The institution served as a place "where the young...could have the best possible educational advantages under distinctive Christian influence." In May 1905 Boiling Springs Baptist Church voted to offer its old church house, five acres of land, and $2,700 to the institution, and on July 10, 1905 Boiling Springs was officially chosen for the site of the school. The location of the High School was essential, as it was located near the border of the school's sponsors, Kings Mountain and Sandy Run, and had easy access to brick building materials. The institution's name, Boiling Springs High School, was decided on October 27, 1905, and its charter was accepted less than two months later by the school's trustees. The town of Boiling Springs is named after the natural springs that can be found on campus. They provided clean water for the school when it began operation in 1907.
J.D. Huggins was made the High School's first principal on July 25, 1907. The complete faculty, which consisted of only five teachers, including Huggins, was hired by the fall of 1907. Classes started in October of the same year, although the main building, the Huggins-Curtis Building, was not complete. Students lived in various homes in the community and used classrooms from the nearby elementary school until the building's completion in 1908. The building included classrooms, auditoriums, a chapel, library, principal's office, cafeteria, living quarters, literary societies, a music room, and parlors. Although it burned down in 1957, it signified the promise and progress of the school so far.
Boiling Springs High School focused on Christian education, as evident in the school's motto, Pro Deo et Humanitate (for God and Humanity). These words were inscribed upon "the ageless granite arch" on campus, which still exists today. Original tuition was $76.05 for a term of nine months, and although the school attracted a wide variety of students with varied interests, its focus centered around ministerial education.
Expansion and growth
The high school became Boiling Springs Junior College in 1928 due to the changing educational needs of the area. The Great Depression created many obstacles for the College, but its survival was secured by the sacrifices of loyal supporters. The college began with seven departments: English, mathematics, natural science, foreign language, social science, Bible, and education. The first graduating class consisted of roughly 200 students, with one of the earliest graduates being W. J. Cash, author of The Mind of the South.
In 1942, Governor O. Max Gardner began devoting his energy, time, and wealth to strengthening the College. On June 15, the trustees voted to change the name to Gardner–Webb Junior College in honor of Gardner and his wife, Fay Webb-Gardner. During the following year, the institution embarked on a $300,000 financial campaign. At the conclusion of this initiative the trustees announced the school to be debt-free.
The decades following World War II were years of physical growth and academic development. New buildings went up as enrollments increased. A major step in the institutions' development was its full accreditation as a senior college in December, 1971. In 1980 the college began a graduate program, which became the Graduate School in the 1990s. The School of Divinity was also founded during this time. The institution officially became known as Gardner–Webb University in January 1993, culminating years of preparation, and by the early 2000s the school had more than 3,200 students and 135 faculty members.
Today, Gardner–Webb offers eight distinct degree programs and a campus of over 200 acres. The campus has recently grown with the addition of the Tucker Student Center, a building made possible by a $5 million donation by Robert and Carolyn Tucker, owners of Shoe Show, Inc. in Concord, North Carolina. In May 2012, the Department of Health and Science announced a plan to launch a physician assistant program that subsequently began in January 2014.
The main campus is situated on 225 acres at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are additional satellite campuses located throughout North Carolina, including in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Statesville, and Hickory.
- The Tucker Student Center: Completed in Fall 2012, and serves as a central place where students and faculty can meet, study, and dine. Made possible because of a $5 million gift from Carolyn and Robert Tucker, the donation is the largest in University history. The building, which contains the campus shop and post office as well as the University's smaller chapel, is 110,000 square-feet and sits overlooking the Lake Hollifield Complex at the center of campus. Entertainment options include a three-story rock climbing wall, movie theatre and screening room, pool tables, air hockey, table tennis, and lounge areas. The Student Center's restaurants increase the food options on campus with WOW Cafe (World of Wings), SubConnection, Cantina 1905, simply-to-go, and the Broad River Coffee Company.
- Dover Campus Center: Constructed in 1966 where the Huggins-Curtis building used to be located. It was renovated in 1990 and houses the student cafeteria, lounges, Chick-fil-a, Undergraduate Admissions offices, and Ritch Banquet Hall. The building is named in memory of Charles I. Dover of Shelby, N.C.
- The Quad: Located in the center of campus, and is the location of the majority of dormitories and academic buildings, including Craig Hall (English), Withrow Science Building, O. Max Gardner Hall (Music), and E. B. Hamrick Hall (Business). It is the location of most of the student activities on campus.
- John R. Dover Memorial Library: Built in 1974 to meet the demands of an expanding student body. Students are able to access over 90 databases on topics including literature, religion, music, psychology, nursing and allied health. The John R. Dover Memorial Library also hosts the Thomas Dixon Collection, partially consisting of over fifteen hundred volumes from the personal book collection of the Rev. Thomas Dixon Jr. (January 11, 1864 – April 3, 1946), a prominent Southern Baptist minister, playwright, lecturer, North Carolina state legislator, lawyer, and author, perhaps best known for writing a trilogy of novels portraying the Ku Klux Klan as heroic defenders of white Southern life during Reconstruction. One of the latter, The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905), was re-written by Dixon as a play and later inspired D. W. Griffith's controversial film, The Birth of a Nation (1915), which stimulated the growth of the Klan. The collection also contains nine paintings which were reproduced as illustrations in Dixon's novels.
- Lake Hollifield Complex: Located between Tucker Student Center and University Commons and is named after Mr. and Mrs. Hugh H. Hollifield. The complex features a jogging track, seating areas, swings, and the Lake Hollifield Bell Tower, which contains a 48 bell carillon.
- Suttle Wellness Center: Located in the University Physical development Complex. It is a health and wellness education and resource center available to all students, faculty, staff, and family members of faculty and staff. The center contains a fitness room complete with state-of-the-art fitness equipment. The building also contains Bost Gymnasium, a free weight room, an aerobics studio, and a swimming pool.
There are over 3,600 students enrolled at Gardner–Webb, including the day program, graduate studies, and the DCP(Degree Completion Program) designed for adult learners seeking to finish their degree. Out of these students, 63% are female and 37% are male, and in all come from a total of 21 foreign countries. There are six professional schools, two academic schools, and 14 academic departments that offer nearly 80 undergraduate and graduate major fields of study. Approximately 24% of students major in nursing, 23% in business, 18% in education, and 14% in psychology.
Degrees offered include Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Divinity, Master of Business Administration, Master of Accountancy, International Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Counseling, Master of Science in Nursing, Education Specialist, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Education. The University as a part of the expanded College of Health Sciences launched Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner programs.
There are more than 160 full-time faculty members, 75% of them with a Ph.D. or equivalent. The average class size is about 25 and the faculty to student ration is 1:13, although classes may contain anywhere between 4 and 30 students.
The Global Opportunities for All Learners program offers students opportunities to continue their studies in order to obtain a baccalaureate degree. To be a part of the program, students must have completed 24 semester hours from a regionally accredited institution. Courses take place online.
The Noel Program for Students with Disabilities is designed to assist disabled students with obtaining their degrees. The program offers services for those who are blind, deaf, or learning disabled, and "seeks to provide reasonable accommodations in order for students to receive equal access to a higher education while striving to assist students to obtain the knowledge, skills and confidence to become effective self advocates." Services offered include note-takers, interpreters, lab assistants, mobility training, and adaptive technology.
In the 2015 college rankings of U.S. News & World Report, Gardner–Webb was ranked 34th (out of more than 130 schools) among regional universities in the South. The University also placed in the top tier of graduate schools in the country in the fields of Education and Nursing. In the Top Online Programs Rankings, Gardner–Webb's Business Programs ranked first in Student Services and Technology out of 161 colleges and universities across the nation. Also under the Top Online Programs Rankings, the University placed 15th in Faculty Credentials and Training and 27th in Student Engagement and Accreditation. In 2011, "The Chronicle of Higher Education" placed Gardner–Webb as one of America's best colleges to work for, one of only four colleges in North Carolina and 111 nationwide to earn the recognition. On a global scale, the University's Online MBA Program was ninth for the year of 2012, according to Business MBA's list of the "Top 50 MBA Programs for 2012." For exhibiting what it calls "institutionalized community engagement," the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected Gardner–Webb for the Community Engagement Classification, one of only 311 schools to have earned the distinction since the Classification's inception in 2006. GWU's core curriculum also ranks in the nation's top two percent for quality and breadth, according to the 2011–2012 What Will They Learn? study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The study rated schools on an "A" through "F" scale, where Gardner–Webb was among only 19 schools, and the only school in the Carolinas, to earn an "A."
The University offers several scholarships. The most prestigious is the Tucker Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength Scholarship made possible via a $4 million endowed gift from Robert and Carolyn Tucker. This scholarship which will first be awarded in Fall of 2020 will cover the entire cost of a four-year education for one student in each class. The University also awards Ignite Excellence Scholarships each year with the top one going to one student and covering Tuition, Room, and Board. There are also four Ignite Scholarships given covering the cost of tuition. Additionally, the University awards multiple levels of merit-based scholarships when students are admitted to the University.
Gardner–Webb students are expected to follow a strict honor code, signing a pledge upon enrollment to "uphold honesty, integrity, and truthfulness in all realms of University life." These forms are kept in the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Student Development and clearly state that academic lying and cheating will not be tolerated.
Student and faculty responsibilities are clearly outlined in the code, showing that students are fully responsible for their own works and that plagiarism, improper citations, and other forms of unoriginal work are subject to disciplinary actions. Faculty are held responsible for explaining all assignments as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and must be willing to investigate and, if circumstances warrant, press charges against students suspected of academic dishonesty.
If a student is suspected to have committed academic dishonesty, he or she must undergo a process of warnings, reports, conferences, and Judicial Board hearings based on the severity of the action. While the Board decides the institutional punishment (academic probation, suspension, etc.), the instructor of the student's course will determine the student's grade in the course.
Gardner–Webb is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Baccalaureate, Master's degrees and Doctorates.
In addition several departmental programs are accredited by the appropriate state or national agencies. The Education program is accredited by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The Music and Nursing programs are accredited respectively by the National Association of Schools of Music and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. The School of Divinity is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools of the United States and Canada. The Athletic Training Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The School of Business is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The University is authorized by the immigration authorities of the United States for the training of foreign students.
Gardner-Webb hosts students from 37 different states and 21 foreign countries. The student body is approximately 60% female and 40% male and the racial makeup of the student body is 66% White, 15% Black, and 3% Hispanic.
Gardner–Webb gives its students a variety of residential opportunities on campus, with nine residence halls, three suite style buildings, and seven apartment buildings. All undergraduate students are required to live on campus unless they live with family, are at least 21 years of age prior to an academic year, have lived in a residence hall for at least six semesters, are part-time students (taking less than 12 hours), are married, or have served in 120 days of active military service.
The residence halls are separated by sex, with women living in Decker, Spangler, Myers, H.A.P.Y., Nanney, and Stroup. Men live in Lutz-Yelton, Mauney, and Royster. Currently, the student body is 63% female and 37% male. The dormitories are equipped with free washing machines and dryers, community bathrooms, and residence lobbies equipped for lounging and studying.
Apartments A, B, C, D, E, F, and H, also known as University Commons, are located near the Lake Hollifield Complex. One building contains 12 apartments, each one with a furnished living area, four furnished single bedrooms, a (free) laundry room, two bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen area with an oven, stove, microwave, refrigerator, sink, and dishwasher. Although the building is co-ed, each apartment is not.
Suites G, I, and J are located in the same area as the apartments, and are similar to them except that they house eight students per unit instead of four. Each suite contains four bedrooms big enough for two students, two bathrooms, a furnished living room, and a half kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, and sink.
Clubs and organizations
Gardner–Webb offers its students opportunities to become involved in a number of activities and organizations around campus. Students work with the Student Government Association leadership to propose new organizations.
A wide variety of organizations are available, including clubs organized around the arts, politics, performance, sports, spirituality, service and culture. There are also a number of academic honor societies including Beta Beta Beta, Sigma Tau Delta, and Alpha Chi and nationally recognized chapters, such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, College Republicans, and College Democrats.
Gardner–Webb also offers an active Student Government Association (SGA) consisting of an 18-member Senate and five-member executive council. The SGA represents the needs and issues of the students to the University administration and acts as a voice for the students. Members of the SGA also serve on faculty committees and often work hand in hand with University staff. The SGA is also responsible for orchestrating many University events including Homecoming.
Gardner–Webb offers multiple recreational activities designed to "enrich the quality of physical, mental, spiritual, and social life of University community members." Fitness classes, like zumba, aerobics, yoga, and dance, are available, as well as individual training sessions offered through the Suttle Wellness Center. The Broyhill Adventure Course, located next to University Commons and Spangler Stadium, offers students a unique outdoor adventure challenge and opportunities to experience climbing and problem solving. The Tucker Student Center also has a three-story tall climbing wall.
The intramural program offers a variety of individual and team sports during both semesters to accommodate student interests and abilities. Any current student, faculty, or staff member may participate. Sports include beach volleyball, kickball, indoor soccer, disc golf, softball, and basketball, among others. Teams can play under male, female, or coed leagues.
The Center for Personal and Professional Development
Gardner–Webb University's Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) works in partnership with faculty and staff to prepare students for life and work beyond college. The CPPD offers close to 50 programs/events each year including, career and internship fairs, networking events, and workshops on jobs/internship search, resume prep, applying to grad school, interview prep, career exploration, and leadership.
The Life of the Scholar Multidisciplinary Conference (LOTS-MC) is an academic conference founded in 1997 that is held on campus every year for undergraduate and graduate students to present their work. This conference is divided up into academic fields such as Religion & Philosophy, Natural Sciences, and English Language & Literature to name a few. The field of students is often large and the event lasts all day. At the end of the program, an award is given for the best-written paper by a graduate student, and a prize is given for the best presentation by a graduate student. The 20th Anniversary LOTS-MC was held in 2017 and honored the founders of the conference Dr. Les and Joyce Brown.
- The Arch: A stone arch dedicated in 1943 is located between the Suttle Wellness Center and the Lutz-Yelton Convocation Center. It is a superstition among students that passing through this arch prior to graduation will prevent a student from graduating on time. For this reason, many students will go their entire career avoiding the arch and then with the rest of their fellow students walk through it on graduation day before their commencement.
- Festival of Lights: The festival of lights is a service held every year to mark the beginning of the advent season. The service itself often consists of scripture readings and musical performances by the University Choir and Orchestra as well as congregational singing. At the conclusion of the service, the attendees proceed to the lighting of the University Christmas tree and nativity scene by the University president. There is often a reception that follows in the Tucker Student Center. This event is widely attended by students, faculty, and the public.
- Pancake Bingo: Often considered as a favorite tradition among students, every semester on the Monday night of exam week, the student body gathers in the dining hall to play bingo and eat pancakes. This popular tradition often sees students waiting well in advance for entry.
- Miss Gardner-Webb: The Miss Gardner-Webb Pageant is an annual event sponsored by the Office of Student Activities as a means of fostering personal presentation, maturity, poise, and public speaking in an appropriate competitive setting. The contestants compete in several different categories: Fun Fashion, Talent, Individual Interviews, Evening Gown, and On-Stage Question. Although this event does not serve as a preliminary for any other pageant, it gives the contestants a safe environment to compete in front of their peers and loved ones to become the next Miss Gardner-Webb. As Miss Gardner-Webb, the winner will serve the student body and the surrounding community for a year.
Gardner–Webb offers 21 varsity sports at the NCAA Division I level, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, swimming, track and field, cross country, softball, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, cheerleading, and golf. Ten of these are men's and eleven are women's.
The athletic teams are known as the Runnin' Bulldogs and support the school colors of scarlet, black and white. The bulldogs are part of the Big South Conference, although the men's and women's swim teams belong to the Coastal Collegiate Swim Association, and the wrestling team belongs to the Southern Conference.
- Football: In 2013, Gardner–Webb hired head coach Carrol McCray, former head coach of North Greenville and a Gardner–Webb alumni. The Gardner–Webb football team has played difficult opponents throughout its history, including Georgia Tech, Appalachian State, Mississippi State, Wofford, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. The team posted an athletic department cumulative GPA of 3.08 in 2011–2012, and suited up six graduate students in 2012, the most active graduates on the same team since the Bulldogs moved to Division I in 2000.
- Men's Basketball: Gardner–Webb men's basketball has also been a growing program and continues to do so under head coach, Tim Craft. In 2012, the team played against opponents University of North Carolina and earlier, in the 2007–2008 season, pulled an 84-68 upset win against the University of Kentucky. They have reached every national tournament on every level, finally making the NCAA Division I Men's National Tournament in 2019 after winning the Big South conference tournament. The basketball program also has developed recent success as a head coach springboard. Former head coach Chris Holtmann after leaving Gardner-Webb was the head coach of Butler University and now Ohio State.
- Women's Basketball: In 2011, the women's basketball team were Big South Conference champions and were awarded a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship tournament, facing No. 3 seed Miami. This was the first appearance for the team in the tournament.
- Men's Swimming: In 2012, Gardner–Webb University's men's swimming team placed third at the 2008 CCSA conference, setting several school records and finishing closely behind College of Charleston and Davidson. The men's team also made the list of top academic teams for Division 1 men's swimming, averaging a 3.17 GPA and placing .01 ahead of schools like George Washington University.
- Women's Swimming: The women placed third at the 2008 conference championships. Before joining the CCSA conference the women's swim team was a part of the NEC. As of 2007, the women's team was four time NEC conference champions. In 2012, the women's team won its twelfth consecutive Scholastic All-America (CSCAA) honor, averaging a 3.55 grade average and falling behind schools like Columbia University by .01 and Dartmouth College by .06. The list includes all Division I women's swim teams that average a 3.0 GPA or higher.
- Women's Soccer: Gardner–Webb's women's soccer program has been a consistent winner since 1999 under former head coach, Kevin Mounce, and now Mike Varga. Even through the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, the Runnin' Bulldogs have won matches at an unparalleled pace that the University has never witnessed before. In the past nine years, the team has won a total of six seasons and at least eight matches in a single-season eight times.
As a Baptist founded university, Gardner–Webb offers and exhibits many Christian aspects. The Office of Christian Life and Service encourages and challenges the University community in its Christian growth, offering pastoral care to students, faculty, administration and staff. It provides vocational counseling and referral service to students interested in church related vocations as well, and coordinates the planning of worship services held for the University and community, like the Dimensions program. The Office hopes that "through ministry organizations, students are encouraged and challenged in personal discipleship, corporate worship, and life-changing ministry and mission experiences."
Dimensions is a graduation requirement for all Gardner–Webb students. The purpose is to nurture attendants spiritually, intellectually and culturally from the perspective of a Christian world view and to promote a sense of community. The program is offered every Tuesday during both the Fall and Spring semesters and counts as 1/2 credit hour. A new speaker addresses the University every week, ranging from staff and faculty to artists, professional athletes, and political speakers, all of whom address subjects that relate to the school's core Christian beliefs. Students must attend 10 sessions each semester for four semesters to obtain all of the Dimensions credits needed to graduate, having a total of 2 credit hours in the course by the end of their academic careers. Credit is given on a pass/fail basis. This means that a total of four semesters, or 40 dimensions, must be attended before graduation.
Campus Ministries United is an umbrella association that has worked with Gardner–Webb to create student run ministry groups. Each CMU Council is composed of student leaders who well represent the ideas of Christian Life and Service. Along with the University's ministerial staff, the Council seeks to "promote a passionate and enduring devotion to Christ among students of Gardner–Webb." Student Ministries supports student-led worship services like The Verge, which welcomes all students to worship with others through music, speakers, drama, and fellowship. F.O.C.U.S. Ministries (Fellowship of Christians United in Service), is another program that consists of teams of students who are involved with leading youth retreats locally and regionally.
LGBT speaker Cody Sanders and reaction
In February 2014, openly gay minister and Gardner–Webb alumnus Cody Sanders was invited to speak about his recent book "Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow: What All Christians can Learn from LGBTQ Lives" as a part of the Life of the Scholar speaker series. Sanders's invitation to Gardner–Webb received greater attention after a letter to the editor titled "Where are the wise at Gardner–Webb?" was published in The Biblical Recorder, the bi-weekly newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). This prompted Gardner–Webb University's president at the time, Frank Bonner, to publish a response in the same paper affirming the University's stance that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.
- Artis Gilmore: Former ABA player, NBA All-Star, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
- W.J. Cash: Author of Mind of the South (1917–18) when the university was Boiling Springs High School; Cash's sister Bertie attended 1928–30 as a junior college student)
- Ron Rash: Award-winning novelist and poet.
- Martha Mason, writer
- John Drew: Former NBA player
- Eddie Lee Wilkins: Former NBA player
- Jim Washburn: Assistant Defensive Coach for the Miami Dolphins
- Blake Lalli: Catcher for the Chicago Cubs
- George Adams: Former NBA player
- Sara McMann – 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in women's freestyle wrestling; currently a professional mixed martial arts fighter, competing in the Women's UFC bantamweight division
- Tim Behrendorff: Professional Basketball player
- Nelson Searcy: Author and Evangelist
- William Caskey Swaim: Actor
- Chris Salvaggione: Professional soccer player for the Charlotte Eagles
- Carroll McCray: Head Football Coach at Gardner–Webb University
- Charlie Harbison: Defensive Coordinator at Auburn University
- Jim Garrison: Hall of Fame football coach
- Jim Maxwell: Linebacker in the NFL and CFL
- Gabe Wilkins: Former Defensive end, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers
- Linda Combs: Controller of the Office of Management and Budget
- Brian Johnston: NFL player
- Orlando Early: NC State Wolfpack men's basketball assistant coach.
- Dobson Collins: NFL player
- Tyler Kettering: former MLS player, Chicago Fire
- Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention
- Eddie G. Grigg: President and founder of Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary
- Scott Krotee: Professional Soccer Player
- Martin D. Whitaker: Director of the Atomic Energy Commission Laboratory and President of Lehigh University
- Dr. Evans Whitaker: President of Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina
- Jon Langston: Country musician
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