History of Nursing Education at Gardner-Webb University

Nursing Education at GWU began in 1965 with the establishment of the Associate Degree Nursing program under the direction of Mrs. Grace C. Lee, who became the first program director.  The GWU Nursing Department became the School of Nursing in 1995 with Dr. Shirley Toney serving as the first Dean.

The School of Nursing currently houses four nursing degree programs.  In 1982 the RN to BSN Completion program was established.  The program was named the Davis Nursing Program in 1995 after becoming affiliated with the Davis Hospital Foundation.  A Master of Science in Nursing degree with tracks in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration was established in 2000 with the addition of the Family Nurse Practitioner track in 2013. In 2010 the Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs were added. In 2017 the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program was added.

In 2014, Dr. Jack and Mrs. Ruby Hunt, noted public servants and community supporters, established the Hunt School of Nursing.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Hunt SON is to enhance the health status of the global community by preparing individuals to practice holistic and professional nursing through the provision of student centered programs of study for a diverse student population that promotes academic excellence within a Christian, private, liberal arts setting utilizing teamwork and community engagement.


Nursing education reflects a scientific and liberal arts foundation, encompassed within a faith-based environmental setting. Nursing education is an integrated process through which students attain knowledge, understanding, and competencies necessary to practice nursing. Education at all levels occurs in an environment that inspires a spirit of inquiry, and is guided toward preparing students to care about and for individuals through the lifespan, to enhance the status of the global community, and to make significant contributions for God and humanity.

Nursing practice reflects a spirit of inquiry that utilizes the knowledge and science emerging from research to translate scholarship into practice. Nursing practice, and quality nursing care should be person-centered, afforded to individuals, families, communities and populations across the lifespan. Working collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team, the nurse continually evaluates the quality of care, serves as a leader in healthcare and in the community, and persistently strives for personal and professional growth. The discipline of nursing is a domain of inquiry representing a shared belief system among members as a reason for being.

Faculty at the Hunt School of Nursing believe that person, health, nurse, and environment are essential concepts within the nursing domain. The person, made in the image of God, is unique and whole in the moment, deserving of love and respect; person is defined as an individual, family, or population seeking or entitled to optimal health. Health is an ever-changing state of biological, psychological, social and spiritual well-being; health is not the absence of disease. The environment for health includes the internal environment of feelings and meanings, as well as the external physical and sociopolitical climate that influences how care is accessed and experienced. The nurse, as an independent provider of nursing care and part of the healing environment, uses science and the caring arts to nurture and promote human wholeness.

Overall Goals

  1. Establish liberal arts educational environment based on Christian values fostering academic excellence, integrity, and a commitment to lifelong learning.
  2. Provide student-centered programs of study based on current national competencies of nursing practice to meet the global health care needs of individuals, groups and communities in which holistic nursing practice, Christian caring, critical thinking, and professionalism are modeled.
  3. Engage in partnerships with community health care facilities in the provision of service learning opportunities for students that includes patient-centered care, evidence based practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  4. Graduate a diverse population of students who are prepared to practice patient centered nursing care that is culturally competent, holistic and professional within the context of a global environment in a manner that influences nursing and health care policy and practice.