Provost Biography

Ben Leslie is Provost and Executive Vice President at Gardner-Webb University, a position he has held since June of 2006. Previously he was Academic Vice President and Dean at North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2001-2006).


He was born May 2, 1957 in Anniston, Alabama. During his senior year of high school, he was licensed to the Gospel Ministry by the Parker Memorial Baptist Church of Anniston, Alabama, (where years before his grandfather, Dr. B. Locke Davis had served as pastor and pastor emeritus) after experiencing a sense of call. He began formal preparation for a career in ministry by attending Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and majoring in religion. There he met and later married (1980) Alice Katherine Johnston of Birmingham, Alabama.


Ben continued his education at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he received the Master of Divinity degree. Sensing a call into theological education, he began studies at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Eschlikon, Switzerland where he was awarded the Master of Theology degree (1986), and then concluded his formal studies at the theological faculty of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where he received the Doctor of Theology degree (magna cum laude) on the basis of his dissertation on the theology of Karl Barth (1990). His dissertation, entitled Trinitarian Hermeneutics, was published the following year by Peter Lang Publishers.


During the years in Switzerland, Ben and Kathy enjoyed opportunities for travel and particularly enjoyed alpine hiking. Both of their daughters were born in Zurich, Elizabeth (1986) and Mary Katherine (1989).


The family returned to the U.S. in 1990 where Ben took up an assistant professor post at North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a school affiliated with the North American Baptist Conference (formerly known as the German Baptists). There he discovered the joy of teaching adults, pursued research interests in theology and Christian ethics, and frequently provided preaching and teaching to area churches in need. He served in several pulpit supply and interim preaching positions, and also served as a Director of Adult Education for First Presbyterian Church in Sioux Falls.


He also served for several years on the board of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (now known as the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty). During that time he organized and led a statewide coalition to pass a "religious freedom restoration act" in the state of South Dakota.


Ben has served in leadership roles in several professional societies.


He enjoys travel, reading fiction and biographies and listening to music of many types. He is grateful for the opportunity to provide service once again in his native South, particularly at a school with the great reputation and standing of Gardner-Webb University.