Gardner-Webb Social Science Department Plants Tree to Honor Dr. Tony Eastman

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BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The social science department at Gardner-Webb recently planted a white ash tree to honor Dr. Tony Eastman, retired professor of American history, behind Frank Nanney Hall.  In a special presentation, the tree, like Eastman’s character and his lasting impact on Gardner-Webb students, was said to be “deeply rooted and ever growing.”

Eastman taught for 45 years at Gardner-Webb, and retired as the University’s longest-tenured professor.

“The ash is the hardest of the hard woods, so this was an appropriate choice,” said Dr. Michael Kuchinsky with a big smile.  Kuchinsky is a professor of political science and was an organizer of the event.

Associate Professor of History, Dr. Tim Vanderburg, also an event organizer, says his department actually had two good reasons for planting the white ash.  “This tree actually replaces a white ash that had to be cut down when land was cleared for the construction of Nanney Hall (2007).  This one will mark his (Eastman’s) life and his work.”

“I never expected this.  It’s an honor.  I will cherish it and the symbolism of the tree,” said Eastman.

Born in Laurel, Miss., Eastman discovered his interest in history and culture while moving around to various locations when his dad was stationed with the army.  Eastman joined Gardner-Webb when it was still a junior college in 1966 and would later help transform the school into a four-year institution, graduating the College’s first four-year class in his fourth year of teaching.

Making this dedication even more special is a scarlet oak tree that was planted in 2011 in honor of Eastman’s close friend and fellow faculty member, Dr. Barry Hambright.  The two trees are placed just a short distance from one another.  Hambright, a beloved member of GWU for over 41 years, passed away in November 2010.  A native of Cleveland County, N.C., Hambright taught political science, history, criminal justice, and human services.  He was also known for being an avid storyteller, and for helping to pioneer (along with Eastman) Gardner-Webb’s Greater Opportunities for Adult Learners (GOAL) program.

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University provides exceptional educational opportunities within a Christian environment, preparing students to think critically, to succeed professionally, and to serve faithfully as members of their local and global communities.