news-category: Academics

Gardner-Webb Officials Announce New Director of Academic Innovation and Digital Learning

Dr. Wendy Athens has Experience in Higher and Secondary Education and

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—An experienced educator and administrator has been hired as Director of Academic Innovation and Digital Learning at Gardner-Webb University. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Karen Aubrey announced that Dr. Wendy Athens begins her role on May 22.

Athens comes to Gardner-Webb from Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah’s largest public institution, where she was senior director of the Office of Teaching and Learning for five years. In addition to working nearly a decade in higher education, her experience also includes nearly 10 years in secondary education and the same number of years in the technology industry.

Aubrey stated, “Dr. Athens’ varied experiences make her a great fit for Gardner-Webb. I look forward to her insight on partnerships and best practices in online education. Her passion for education was evident during the interview process, and I am confident she will have much to contribute.”

Dr. Wendy Athens

In her position at Gardner-Webb, Athens reports to Aubrey and works collaboratively with the president, provost, deans, the Assistant Vice President for Business Development and Partnerships Dr. Anthony Negbenebor, and other units on campus. She will work with the University team to analyze the needs of target populations to identify, develop, and deliver online/hybrid credit and noncredit program offerings and to ensure the campus is following best practices in online course design and delivery.

Athens noted that this opportunity at Gardner-Webb appealed to her because she was seeking a role that would allow her to help adult learners earn meaningful post-secondary credentials. “The Gardner-Webb position addressed both credit and noncredit programming in multiple modalities and because the GWU community seemed poised to innovate and grow,” she observed. “I am impressed by Gardner-Webb’s long history in online learning and its commitment to student success through development of high-quality courses, success coaches, and more. I believe the Lord led me to Gardner-Webb and look forward to all that He has in store as we work together to advance His work.”

In her previous job at Utah Valley, Athens led faculty development, instructional design, technology support, and online learning operations. The Office of Teaching and Learning provided an array of professional development for faculty across their careers. She contributed to a university-wide effort to improve students’ academic success and catalyzed growth of online programs. She taught courses in education and business.

From 2014 to 2017, Athens was the acting director of eLearning and director of Instructional Design and Development at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers. In addition to her responsibilities overseeing instructional design and technology support, she taught online chemistry, including online laboratory courses.

She began her teaching career in 2002 at Evangelical Christian School in Fort Myers, where she taught chemistry and physics. Athens also spearheaded the formation of the school’s technology center and its robotics and engineering programs. Thereafter she taught chemistry at Canterbury School in Fort Myers, where she initiated and grew the Science Olympiad program.

Athens worked for Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company in various roles from 1988 to 1997. Her last position was worldwide support programs manager with the responsibility of leading the development and delivery of technical training for HP laptop service organization and its service partners.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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