Longtime Gardner-Webb Educator Receives North Carolina’s Highest Civil Honor

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Dr. John Karriker Recognized with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Dr. Bobbie Cox, left, recommended Dr. John Karriker, right, for the Long Leaf Pine.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — Dr. John Karriker, a Gardner-Webb University educator for 35 years, was honored this week with the State of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Presented by N.C. House Rep. Rena Turner on Nov. 4 at a gathering of the Statesville (N.C.) Rotary Club, the Long Leaf Pine recognizes exceptional service to the state.

In addition to his educational career, Karriker has actively served the Civitan and Rotary civic club organizations and the Lutheran Church. He joins Dr. Bobbie Cox and Dr. Jim Thomas as Gardner-Webb educators who have received the honor. “I’m very humbled when I look over the list of people who’ve already received this honor,” he shared. “Honorees include people like Andy Griffith, Charles Kuralt, Billy Graham and Maya Angelou. The highlight of my life has been serving other people and being an educator.”

Karriker joined Gardner-Webb as an adjunct professor for environmental science in the early days of the Greater Opportunities for Adult Learners (GOAL) Program, now known as the Degree Completion Program (DCP). He is now associate dean and regional manager for 12 Gardner-Webb campus centers.

Dr. Bobbie Cox, associate provost for the College of Adult and Distance Education, recommended Karriker for the Long Leaf Pine award. “Dr. Karriker has an exemplary record of service for the State of North Carolina,” Cox said. “He has been an educator, outstanding citizen, community contributor, and has given over 30 years of service to the State of North Carolina.”

Born to Hoke and the late Dorothy Karriker and raised on a dairy farm in Rowan County (N.C.), he attended Catawba College in Salisbury and earned a degree in chemistry. That led him to jobs with the S.C. Department of Agriculture and Fiber Industries, where he learned he needed more education to advance in his career. After going back to school and earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of South Carolina, he realized he preferred education over industry.

That led him to serve three decades in the N.C. Community College System, including work at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine, Randolph Community College in Asheboro, and Mitchell Community College in Statesville. He retired from the system in 2001 and was hired in 2005 as director of the GWU campus in Statesville.

N.C. House Rep. Rena Turner, right, presented the honor to Karriker on Nov. 4.

Now 72, Karriker said he plans to continue his service as an educator for several more years and would even teach face-to-face classes for Gardner-Webb after he retires. He anticipates the chance to hunt and travel with his wife Renae, a 1991 GWU business administration graduate, in the coming years, but he will always relish chances to educate and serve.

“Gardner-Webb has allowed me to stay in education and teaching, which is what I love to do,” Karriker explained. “Along with my service to the community and the church, the things that make a person eligible for this award, education has given me fulfillment in my life.”

Among the most sought after and valued awards conferred by the governor of the State of North Carolina, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state. More than 15,000 individuals have received the honor.

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 deeper commitment to service and leadership, and equipping them for well-rounded lives of lasting impact, Pro Deo Et Humanitate (For God and Humanity).