Year in Review: Gardner-Webb University’s Top 13 Stories of 2013

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A Look Back at 2013’s Awards & Achievements

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – With the dawn of a new year at hand, the year 2013 has quietly slipped into the annals of history.  Many important events and milestones helped make 2013 a year that will not be quickly forgotten.  In an effort to offer a tribute to 2013, we have assembled a list of the top 13 stories (and a few notable honorable mentions) within the University this past year.


N.C. Governor McCrory Appoints GWU’s Decker & Alexander to Important State Posts

Governor-Elect Pat McCrory has named the final members of the North Carolina cabinet, and Gardner-Webb University is represented by two of the appointees. During a press conference, McCrory announced that he would appoint Sharon Allred Decker, a former Duke Energy vice president and a student of the Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity, as Secretary of the Department of Commerce.  He also tapped current Gardner-Webb University Board of Trustees Chairman Neal Alexander, who retired from Duke Energy after 43 years of service, to serve as the Director of the State Office of Personnel. (Click here for the full story.)

GWU Alumna Kate Gazaway Teaches Photography Skills to Women & Children in Poverty-Stricken Nations

The joy captured on the little girl’s face in the photograph is contagious, and upon viewing her immediate surroundings, the resulting juxtaposition is difficult to process. The child, though dirt-smudged and surrounded by the squalor of a trash heap, radiates laughter and a spirit of gladness that is somewhat difficult to comprehend.  Gardner-Webb alum Kate Gazaway (’08) did not take the photo, but she is responsible for the images captured. Gazaway is the founder of a non-profit organization known simply as “Picture Change,” which teaches basic photography skills and provides donated equipment to impoverished people (mostly women and children) in under-developed countries including Nicaragua and India. (Click here for the full story.)

GWU Alum Clayton King Tagged by LifeWay to Pen Updated “True Love Waits” Curriculum

The most successful product ever released by LifeWay Christian Resources is being re-launched next month and officials have handpicked Gardner-Webb University alumnus Clayton King (’95) to develop and write the new curriculum.  True Love Waits, an international moral purity campaign designed to challenge teens and college students to commit to sexual abstinence until marriage, initially debuted in 1994, when King himself was a college student.  As a traveling evangelist and speaker even during his years at Gardner-Webb, he remembers speaking at True Love Waits rallies all over the country. When LifeWay officials decided to relaunch True Love Waits in honor of its 20th anniversary, King was their first choice to rewrite the material. (Click here for the full story.)



GWU Professor Sharon Webb Serves Storm Victims in Moore, Okla. and Granbury, Texas

The young father’s eyes filled with tears as he clutched two Mickey Mouse stuffed animals.  The Moore, Okla. tornado had destroyed his home, and his family had nothing left.  His voice was broken with sobs as he told the Red Cross worker that he had two children, ages two and four, and he didn’t want them to see the remnants of their scattered toys among the rubble.  As a volunteer with the American Red Cross (ARC) national response, Gardner-Webb University Assistant Professor of Psychology and Counseling Sharon Webb has dozens of similar stories of heartbreaking strength after returning from a two-week deployment to Grandbury, Texas and Moore, Okla. where monstrous storms left miles upon miles of devastation.  A licensed professional counselor, Webb provides emotional support to disaster survivors, serves as a supervisor to other mental health counselors, and checks on other ARC volunteers to see how they are doing emotionally throughout their responding roles. (Click here for the full story.)

GWU Faculty Member Dr. Jim Thomas Awarded North Carolina’s Highest Civil Distinction

Dr. Jim Thomas of Gardner-Webb University recently received the North Carolina Long Leaf Pine Award, which is among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor and is considered one of the highest honors for a civilian in the state.  Thomas serves as dean of the School of Performing and Visual Arts and received the award from Gov. Pat McCrory during a recent event at Mars Hill University (N.C.).  The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, created in 1965, is an honor that is granted in the state of North Carolina.  The Longleaf Pine is the official state tree.  The award is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Thomas was surprised with the recognition when he was in attendance at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first renovation of what had been Mars Hill Baptist Church, now known as Owen Theatre. (Click here for the full story.)

Former Gardner-Webb University Faculty Member Dr. Lansford Jolley Passes Away

Gardner-Webb University lost an admired and distinguished faculty member in September with the passing of Dr. Lansford Jolley.  Jolley passed away at the age of 86 at Hospice of Cleveland County (Shelby, N.C.), after a period of declining health. Jolley retired from Gardner-Webb in 1992 after serving on the GWU faculty for 34 years teaching courses in history and sociology.  He served 33 of those years as the chair for the Department of Social Sciences, and in all, Jolley taught for over 40 years.  Jolley was a native of Boiling Springs, N.C. and grew up in the Flint Hill community.  He received academic degrees from Gardner-Webb, Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Peabody College (Nashville, Tenn.), and Florida State (Tallahassee). Jolley also served his country in the United States Navy, was active in his church at Boiling Springs Baptist, and was heavily involved in numerous civic and community activities. He was also presented with an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1997. (Click here for the full story.)

Athletics News & Announcements

2013 ushered in a season of unprecedented success in the men’s basketball and football programs, with head coaching changes also among top news items for GWU athletics.

GWU Hires Carroll McCray to Lead Football Program

Gardner-Webb University announced in January that 1983 graduate Carroll McCray has been hired as head football coach. McCray spent his previous season as the head coach at North Greenville University. He has previous stops as associate head coach at Mercer and as head coach at Austin Peay. As an assistant, McCray has an outstanding track record with stops at Furman, Mississippi State, Samford, South Carolina and Appalachian State. “Our focus with this search was to quickly identify and target an experienced coach who has an understanding of this university and its football program,” said Gardner-Webb Vice President for Athletics Chuck Burch. “We have found that coach in Carroll McCray. He is a man of impeccable character and a person we are confident is an outstanding fit here at Gardner-Webb.” (Click here for the full story.)

Tim Craft is Selected to Head Up Men’s Basketball Program

Gardner-Webb University announced in July that Tim Craft would take over as head coach of the men’s basketball program. Craft, 36, returns to Gardner-Webb after spending the past three seasons as an assistant coach at East Carolina and the previous three seasons on staff at Auburn – one as Director of Basketball Operations and two as an assistant coach. Craft spent each of those six seasons at the side of former North Carolina point guard standout Jeff Lebo, who starred for the Tar Heels from 1986-1989. Auburn and East Carolina combined to win 109 games and make three postseason appearances during Craft’s time on staff, averaging more than 18 wins per season. (Click here for the full story.)

University Awards/Milestones

GWU School of Divinity Celebrates 20 Years & GWU Master of Business Administration Program Reaches 20-Year Milestone

Individuals who dared to dream that a Baptist seminary could one day be established in the foothills of Western North Carolina gathered at Gardner-Webb University on Monday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the M. Christopher White School of Divinity.  Dozens of former and current faculty, staff members, and students attended a luncheon celebration followed by the 20th Anniversary Convocation, held in the Dover Chapel on the Gardner-Webb campus. Since its establishment in 1993, hundreds of people have achieved their post-baccalaureate educational goals through the Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity, which also began offering the Doctor of Ministry degree in 2002.  As the school passes its 20th anniversary, nearly 500 students have graduated with either a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, a Master of Divinity, a Doctor of Ministry, or a dual-degree combination. (Click here for the full story.)

Gardner-Webb University’s Godbold School of Business observed a milestone event in November with a day of celebration honoring the Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program’s 20th Anniversary.  MBA alumni joined GWU administrators, faculty, staff, school of business students, and special guests during several events that rediscovered the program’s history, while looking ahead to the future and the hope for continued expansion. “If I had to describe Gardner-Webb in one word it would be audacious,” said Dr. Frank Bonner, GWU President.  “The MBA program was not only like that but has become one of the most vital parts of the University.  “It has produced business leaders with strong morals and integrity.  The MBA program will continue to remain in line with our core values and principles.” (Click here for the full story.)

GWU Ranks 12th in Nation for Core Curriculum Requirements

An annual study on core curriculum requirements at over 1,000 colleges and universities from all over the United States has placed Gardner-Webb University at the head of the class for the third year in a row.  Ranked number 12 out of only 22 institutions with an “A” grade, Gardner-Webb earned the number one spot out of all schools in the Carolinas for the highest core curriculum standards. The 2013-2014 What Will They Learn? study, conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), ranks the core curriculum of all the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states.  The ranking places GWU in the top two percent in the nation, included with schools such as Pepperdine University (Malibu, Calif.), Baylor University (Waco, Texas), Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.), and the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.). (Click here for the full story.)

Community Events/Involvement

Bulldog Backpack Program at GWU Addresses National Hunger Issue on Local Level

A few years ago, GWU Registrar Lou Ann Scates and Biology Professor Susan Manahan read an article about the pandemic of child hunger, and both women immediately wanted to do something about it locally. They put their heads together in 2010 and the result of their brainstorming is what is now known as the Bulldog Backpackprogram.  The initiative provides non-perishable food items to hungry Springmore Elementary School (Boiling Springs, N.C.) students and their families on a regular basis. By working with the school’s social worker, Scates and Manahan identified approximately 20 children whose family situations were desperate.  While the families can manage one modest meal each day, and students benefit from free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs at school, a family’s food resources often become most scarce over the weekend.  Social workers say that’s when kids often go hungry. To address this need, Manahan and Scates began collecting backpacks and food items from the Gardner-Webb community.  Now, each Friday, the backpacks are stuffed with food and delivered to the students’ bus drivers, who give them to the students as they head home for the weekend. (Click here for the full story.)

Inaugural Boiling Springs-Based Relay For Life Hosted by Gardner-Webb University

The world’s largest grassroots fundraising movement, Relay For Life, mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and provide participants with an opportunity to fight back against the disease.  A Relay For Life event was held on the Gardner-Webb campus on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 8 p.m. to Midnight, in conjunction with a week’s worth of activities to raise awareness and help fund the cancer research programs.  Student Blaire Teeters (School of Nursing) and alumna Bryte Warrick (’08) spearheaded the effort and recently discussed the success of the project and plans for its continuation. (Click here for the full story.)

University Named to President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for Sixth Straight Year

Gardner-Webb University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the sixth year in a row by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  A formal announcement of the 2013 inductees was made during the American Council on Education annual Conference, held on March 4 in Washington, D.C. Gardner-Webb was one of just over 20 colleges and universities in North Carolina to make the distinguished list.  Each year the selection process is decided by a group of high-level members of the federal government.  The process is based on commitment to service and civic engagement on campus and across the nation.  According to the group’s official press release, “This honor recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcome in their communities.” (Click here for the full story.)

Honorable Mentions

The following stories aren’t counted in the Top 13 totals, but are certainly noted among 2013’s moments to remember.

Gardner-Webb University Unveils Transformational Exercise Science Lab

University Named to Top-20 Online Christian Colleges List

GWU’s Godbold School of Business Adds New Graduate Studies Program

Broadcast Service of Gardner-Webb University WGWG Radio Announces Transition

GWU Awards Two Posthumous Degrees During Spring Graduation

University Pays Highest Academic Honor to Robert and Carolyn Tucker During Summer Commencement

Dr. Gil Blackburn Receives GWU’s Honorary Doctorate During Fall Commencement

GWU Magazine Receives Award of Excellence in Publications Writing

For other archived news stories from 2013, click here.

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).