Gardner-Webb University has experienced remarkable growth, perseverance, and maturity. The institution began as a boarding high school and later became a junior college. Today Gardner-Webb is a thriving regional university with growing master’s and doctoral programs.
From a movement initiated by the Kings Mountain Baptist Association in 1903, and later joined by the Sandy Run Baptist Association, the Boiling Springs High School was chartered on December 2, 1905, as an institution “where the young…could have the best possible educational advantages under distinctive Christian influence.” This close relationship of the institution to the area churches continues today.
In response to the changing educational needs of the area, the institution was transformed into the Boiling Springs Junior College in 1928. The Great Depression created many problems for the College, but its survival was secured by the sacrifices of many loyal supporters.
In 1942, Governor O. Max Gardner began devoting his energy, time and wealth to strengthening and guiding the College. So important was his influence that the name of the institution was changed to Gardner-Webb College in honor of the governor, his wife Fay Webb Gardner, and their families.
The decades following World War II were years of physical growth and academic development. New buildings went up as enrollments increased. A major step in the institutions development was its full accreditation as a senior college in 1971. In 1980 the institution began offering a Master of Arts degree in education.
The institution officially became know as Gardner-Webb University in January 1993, culminating years of preparation. Today Gardner-Webb is a flourishing regional institution, which offers eight distinct degree programs, has a highly qualified faculty and a beautiful campus of over 225 acres.
Historically the University has played significant roles in teacher education and ministerial preparation for church-related vocations. Programs of instruction and experiences designed to prepare teachers and ministers continue to be major objectives of the University.
Although there have been many changes over the years, Gardner-Webb University remains closely related to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The University holds in high esteem its commitment to Christian principles and values as the best foundation for the development of human personality and social order.