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History of Gardner-Webb University

Located in the North Carolina foothills on over 225 acres, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

From our humble beginnings as Boiling Springs High School in 1905, to our transition to higher education as Gardner-Webb College in 1942, to our evolution in 1993 as Gardner-Webb University, we’ve come a long way.

Gardner-Webb University was founded as a boarding high school before transitioning into a junior college and four-year institution. Today Gardner-Webb is a thriving regional university featuring a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs.

A partnership between the Kings Mountain Baptist Association and the Sandy Run Baptist Association established the Boiling Springs High School on December 2, 1905, as an institution “where the young…could have the best possible educational advantages under distinctive Christian influence.” This close relationship with area churches continues today.

In response to the changing educational needs of the area, the school was transformed into the Boiling Springs College in 1928. The Great Depression created many challenges for small colleges around the country, but the survival of Gardner-Webb’s predecessor was secured by the sacrifices of many loyal financial supporters.

In 1942, North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner and his wife Fay Webb Gardner began devoting energy, guidance, time and wealth to strengthening the College. The influence of his family was so profound that the board of trustees voted to change the name of the institution to honor the governor, his wife and their families. Gardner-Webb College was born.

The decades following World War II were years of physical growth and academic development. New buildings were erected as enrollments continued to increase. A major step in Gardner-Webb’s development was its full accreditation as a four-year college in 1971-1972. In 1980 the institution began offering a Master of Arts degree in education.

The institution officially became known as Gardner-Webb University in January 1993, culminating years of preparation. Gardner-Webb University’s six professional schools and 14 academic departments offer more than 80 undergraduate and graduate major fields of study.

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 holds in high esteem its commitment to Christian principles and values as the best foundation for the development of human personality and social order.

Nationally recognized for character-building programs, Gardner-Webb challenges students to ignite their passions, purposes and professions within an environment that challenges the mind, heart and soul.