Gardner-Webb Celebrates Outstanding Contributions of Former Faculty Members at Emeriti Luncheon

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Event Includes Release of Historical “GWU Faculty Emeriti Book” Third Edition

Photos by Mark Houser / Gardner-Webb University

By Erik Barr ’16, Intern for University Communications

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb welcomed nearly two dozen distinguished former faculty members to the University’s Tucker Student Center this summer for a luncheon to honor their dedication to the institution and to celebrate the release of the third edition of the “GWU Faculty Emeriti Book.”

Carolyn Billings, center, greets friends.

“The Faculty Emeriti Luncheon was a wonderful opportunity for the University to reconnect with a group of faculty members who have made a profound contribution to the shape and fiber of Gardner-Webb University,” said Dr. Ben Leslie, GWU Provost and Executive Vice President. “Their presence at Gardner-Webb has been sacrificial in that any of them could easily have found greater financial reward elsewhere. But they believe in our ideal of Christian higher education, and have chosen to leave their mark here. And believe me, in each and every case, they have.”

Emeriti rank at Gardner-Webb is reserved for those who have retired from full-time teaching at the University with at least 15 years of service as a member of the faculty. The position is recommended by faculty through an academic department, the Administrative Advisory Committee and the University administration. The Board of Trustees then appoints the retired faculty member to emeriti status. More than 40 total faculty members have received the honor in Gardner-Webb’s history.

“This title and this recognition mean a great deal to me,” shared Dr. Bob Morgan, GWU Professor Emeritus of French and Mathematics. “I have enjoyed all of my wonderful connections with Gardner-Webb since I first came to teach here in 1967.”

Dr. Ron Williams, left, talks with Dr. Tony Eastman, right, during lunch.

At the luncheon, several GWU speakers offered reflection on the impact of the emeriti faculty members, including Leslie, President Dr. Frank Bonner, Chair of the Faculty and Professor of Philosophy Dr. Perry Hildreth, Vice President of Christian Life and Service and Senior Minister Dr. Tracy Jessup, and Public Relations Specialist Matthew Tessnear. Emeriti also relished time to visit with friends and former colleagues.

“I enjoyed all of the hugs and the catching up on one another’s lives and appreciate Gardner-Webb giving us this opportunity,” offered Dr. Darlene Gravett, GWU Associate Provost Emerita. “I also enjoyed working with the Office of Communications and Marketing staff to produce the third edition of the ‘Faculty Emeriti Book.’”

Dr. Sherman Parrish, left, talks with Dr. Oland Summers, right. Dr. George Cribb is pictured center in the background.

Each honored guest at the luncheon received a copy of the updated book, which includes a history of Gardner-Webb, biographies of the University’s presidents and each emeriti faculty member, and historical photos of outstanding faculty. “Former Gardner-Webb Assistant Professor Dr. Doris Banner had a brilliant idea to recognize our faculty legends in a physical way through the emeriti book,” said Noel Manning, managing editor of the “Faculty Emeriti Book” third edition. “The project has since transformed from that first edition hardcover book in 1994 to now include both print and digital online formats as a living, breathing emeriti history in this latest edition.

“Gardner-Webb’s rich history is built on people, and the ‘Faculty Emeriti Book’ tells the stories of many of the institution’s outstanding individuals. But through those stories the book also captures the full University history in so many ways.”

A digital version of the emeriti book is available online at

Twenty-one emeriti faculty attended the luncheon, including:

Carolyn Billings, professor emerita of music, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Bob Blackburn, professor emeritus of health education, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Frieda Brown, professor emerita of psychology, of Cornelius, N.C.

Dr. Joyce Brown, professor emerita of English, of Troutman, N.C.

Dr. Les Brown, professor emeritus of biology, of Troutman, N.C.

Dr. George Cribb, professor emeritus of music, of Greenville, S.C.

Dr. Alice Cullinan, professor emerita of religion, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Tony Eastman, professor emeritus of history, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Terry Fern, professor emeritus of fine arts, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Roger Gaddis, professor emeritus of psychology, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Darlene Gravett, associate provost emerita, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Pat Harrelson, professor emerita of music education, of Ellenboro, N.C.

Dr. Paul Jolley, professor emeritus of mathematics, of Shelby, N.C.

Dr. Bob Lamb, dean emeritus, GWU School of Divinity, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Bob Morgan, professor emeritus of French and mathematics, of Rutherfordton, N.C.

Thirlen Osborne, professor emeritus of English, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Sherman Parrish, professor emeritus of chemistry, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Valerie Parry, dean emerita, libraries, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Dr. Oland Summers, professor emeritus of music education, of Shelby, N.C.

Dr. Shirley Toney, dean emerita, GWU School of Nursing, of Forest City, N.C.

Dr. Ron Williams, professor emeritus of religious studies and philosophy, of Owensboro, Ky.


Two emeriti faculty members were unable to attend the luncheon, including:

Dr. Vann Murrell, professor emeritus of religion, of Swansboro, N.C.

Dr. Phil Perrin, professor emeritus of music, of Boiling Springs, N.C.

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University’s purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God through Christian higher education by preparing graduates for professional and personal success, instilling in them a deep commitment to service and leadership, and equipping them for well-rounded lives of lasting impact, Pro Deo et Humanitate (For God and Humanity).