Gardner-Webb University History

The institution first opened its doors to students in 1907 as a boarding high school operated and supported by the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Baptist Associations. As a high school, junior college, senior college, and beginning in 1993 as a university, the school has sought to provide quality education in a Christian environment.

A brief chronological history of Gardner-Webb leads to an understanding of the University as it is today and to an appreciation for all that has contributed to its growth and development.

1905Founded as Boiling Springs High School by the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Baptist Associations.
1907Opened doors to students as Boiling Springs High School.
1928Became Boiling Springs Junior College.
1942Became Gardner-Webb Junior College; named for former Governor O. Max Gardner and the Webb family of Shelby.
1946Supported by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
1971Became a four year school.
1977Established programs for hearing and visually impaired.
1978Began night school program for adults, Degree Completion Program (formerly GOAL)
1980Began the Graduate Program.
1992Approved the School of Divinity.
1993Became a University (Newly formed Master of Business Administration Program begins)
1995Established School of Education, featuring national accreditation status for teacher program.
2001Began offering its first doctoral degree, the Doctor of Ministry.
2005Celebrated Centennial.

The Mission of Gardner Webb University

Gardner-Webb University, a private, Christian, Baptist-related university, provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate education that is strongly grounded in the liberal arts while offering opportunities to prepare for various professions. Fostering meaningful intellectual thought, critical analysis, and spiritual challenge within a diverse community of learning, Gardner-Webb is dedicated to higher education that integrates scholarship with Christian life. By embracing faith and intellectual freedom, balancing conviction with compassion, and inspiring a love of learning, service and leadership, Gardner-Webb prepares its graduates to make significant contributions for God and humanity in an ever- changing global community.

Gardner-Webb Traditions

The Convocation Bell

The bell used in formal convocations is a replica of the Liberty Bell. It was first rung in the Fall of 1970 to inaugurate the senior college status of Gardner-Webb. The bell is rung to signify the opening and closing of the academic year and to mark formal academic occasions.

Family Weekend

This special event is held on a weekend during the Fall and Spring semesters that includes a home athletic event. It is a wonderful opportunity for parents and guardians   to spend quality time with their students, meet the faculty, attend a concert, picnic on the lawn, browse in the Campus Shop, cheer on the Runnin’ Bulldog athletic teams, meet the University President, and attend a student-led family worship service.

Founders Day

Festival of Lights

During the Christmas season at Gardner-Webb, we call upon others in the community to join us in ushering in Advent and anticipating Christmas. Our traditional celebration, featuring the University choirs, is held in late November or early December and is called Festival of Lights.


A tradition at many schools, colleges, and universities, Homecoming is a distinctive event at Gardner-Webb. Each fall, on a home football game weekend, students, faculty, staff and friends return to catch up on the changes, renew friendships and check out the current group of students. Special events such as an exciting game of football, dance, alumni reunions, banquets, and athletics galore (golf, tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball) all happen on this weekend.

A Queen is chosen for Homecoming. The Student Government Association (SGA) is responsible for the election of the Queen. Those who receive the highest number of votes of the senior class will represent the senior class as senior class attendants. SGA will be responsible for setting petition deadlines and for taking photographs of each eligible candidate in the election of the Homecoming Queen. Candidates/attendants must maintain a minimal cumulative GPA of 2.50 and may not be on disciplinary probation at the time of election to their respective court. The Queen must be a member of the Gardner-Webb University senior class. For additional guidelines for Homecoming, please refer to the Traditional Undergraduate Club and Organization Handbook

Senior Pinning

University Alma Mater


At the foot of the mountain
Is our College; proud she stands, serving all who want her service,
Blessing all with outstretched hand
With our hands we will serve thee,
Gardner-Webb, our College fair; In our love we will uphold thee; Our wealth we’ll gladly share.


Alma Mater, Alma Mater,
We sing our love to thee,
We pledge our hearts in deep devotion, Our faith, eternally