news-category: Alumni

Gardner-Webb Alumni from Classes of ’83, ’84 and ’85 Plan Reunion on April 13

a group of six people stand in front of GWU background
Members of the reunion planning committee, from left, are Dianne W. Hail, Amy Wilson Covington, Brian McCulloch, Krista Colle Gibson, Jami McNeely Loftin and Kim Randolph Rivera. Not pictured are Tami Ruckman and Becky Hicks Walker.

Daylong Event Features Campus Tours, Guest Speakers, Former Professors and Plenty of Time to Reminisce

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— Kim Randolph Rivera, Class of ’84, serves on the Gardner-Webb University Alumni Board. Knowing that her class would be celebrating its 40th reunion in May 2024, Rivera wondered if anybody ever held college reunions like they do for high school.

She took her question to Leah Clevenger, GWU director of Alumni Relations. Clevenger said that it could be done and her office would help. “So, I started thinking, ‘Why don’t we have a milestone reunion and reconnect with friends and professors?’” Rivera reflected. “I said to Leah, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s nice to celebrate special moments and people that have made a significant impact in your life and that’s what this reunion means to me. It’s also a time to collectively remember and honor those classmates who have passed on and are no longer with us.”

Rivera and Clevenger started talking about options and recruited other class members to help plan the event. They also asked Tami Ruckman, an advancement officer and ’83 alumna, for input. That’s when they decided the Class of ’84 would invite the classes of ’83 and ’85 to celebrate with them. “We thought it was a great idea, because we were such a tightknit group,” Rivera said. “In the ’80s, almost all students lived in resident halls on campus, and this fostered a lot of connections and friendships.”

She continued, “For all of us, Gardner-Webb was very special and we felt like family. You’re studying together. You’re eating together. You’re playing sports together. You’re doing everything together. It was an extraordinary group of people. Since the classes of 1983, ‘84 and ‘85 shared so many friendships, we thought it would be great to have the reunion together. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories and share laughter and tears. Life is short. Let’s celebrate.”

They formed a committee and the class members chose a spring date for the combined reunion: April 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Faith Hall, Tucker Student Center. Registration is open until the day of the event.

“Spring seemed like the perfect time to hold it, and we desired to commemorate the actual 40th anniversary of our graduation,” Rivera noted. “We also wanted to tour the beautiful campus, relive those fun memories, and observe activity with current students.”

The reunion schedule includes campus tours, a catered lunch, and a meet and greet with former professors and special guests. Class of ’84 alumnus Jonathan Scott, campus pastor of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, will be the main speaker. Also speaking is Ray Hardee, another ’84 alumnus, who is lead pastor of The Pointe Church in Belmont, N.C. Hardee worked at Gardner-Webb from 1986 to 2001 and is currently an adjunct professor for psychology and human services.

The Big Brothers, Big Sisters in the 1980s

Committee members are Rivera, Ruckman, and Krista Colle Gibson (co-chairs) and Brian McCulloch, Dianne Whitaker Hail, Jami McNeely Loftin, Amy Wilson Covington and Becky Hicks Walker. Rivera said that a couple of people on the committee had not been back to campus in 40 years. “So, when they came for our meeting, and met in the Student Center, some had not seen the impressive new three-story building (with Starbucks and Chick-fil-A),” Rivera shared. “The campus has expanded greatly in 40 years and is absolutely beautiful! Our student center was nothing like it is today!”

Gardner-Webb President Dr. William M. Downs will welcome the alumni. Clevenger will be present to bring greetings from the Office of Alumni Relations, and Ruckman, who is an advancement officer at Gardner-Webb, will talk about why it is important to support the University. “I’m going to tell my story about coming back to work at Gardner-Webb,” Ruckman affirmed. “This is an opportunity to introduce them to what I’ve been able to see about Gardner-Webb — that it’s not just in our past. It’s today. It’s growing. It’s living. Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to somebody from Gardner-Webb or that I went to class with.”

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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