Dr. Bonner Sitting At Desk

Arnold Frank Bonner

Born in Durham, North Carolina, A. Frank Bonner grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. The son of Francis Wesley Bonner (deceased) and Nilaouise Carnes Bonner, he was raised in a college environment, almost literally in the shadows of the campus of Furman University (Greenville, S.C). His father retired from Furman as Vice President and Provost, having served Furman for over thirty years as professor and, eventually, as chief academic officer. Frank’s parents instilled in him the values he still holds dear. To this day, his father is his model for everything that a teacher, academic leader, and university administrator should be.


Frank Bonner graduated in 1969 from Furman with a B.A. degree in English. Coincidentally, his major professor was Dr. Phil L. Elliott, son of the legendary president of Gardner-Webb from 1943 until 1961, Phillip Lovin Elliott. After Furman, Bonner earned the M.A. from the University of Georgia in 1971, and the Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977. His specialty is Victorian literature, primarily the poetry of Alfred Tennyson, and eighteenth-century British literature, with a special interest in Jonathan Swift.


In 1974, Bonner began his academic career as a faculty member at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. He was particularly active in civic life in Anderson, most notably as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Anderson County School District Five. Bonner was assigned various administrative responsibilities at Anderson and, immediately prior to coming to Gardner-Webb, was Associate Dean for Special Programs.


In 1987, Bonner came to Gardner-Webb as Vice President for Academic Affairs. His role later evolved into Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and then Provost and Senior Vice President. He was named President in May 2005 and took office on July 1.


Bonner has been heavily involved in accreditation work through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), serving on the Board of Trustees and more than thirty accreditation committees, most of those as the committee chair. He is a member of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees and serves on the Compliance and Reports Committee. He has also served on the nominating committee for the Commission on Colleges and has chaired four NCAA Division I Recertification visiting committees. Bonner is currently the President of the Big South Conference and a member of the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. He is former chair of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities.


While at Gardner-Webb, Bonner has remained active in civic affairs, currently serving on the Board of Advisors for the Boy Scouts of America Piedmont Council. He is a past chair of the Cleveland County Chamber, a Rotary past President, a Paul Harris Fellow, and he has been a board member for numerous organizations. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Shelby, where he teaches Sunday School and serves as a Deacon. After twenty-two years in the United States Army Reserve, Bonner retired at the rank of Colonel.


Bonner is married to Florence Dell (Flossie) Black of Chester, South Carolina, also a Furman graduate. She is a retired high school mathematics teacher. They have two daughters, Alison Bonner Dalton of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Florence Bonner Crawford of Fort Myers, Florida. The Bonners have six grandchildren.