news-category: GWU Commencement

Gardner-Webb Officials Announce Speaker for 2024 Commencement Ceremony

graduates celebrate receiving their degrees

Dr. Crystal L. Hill, ’08 Alumna and Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, will Address Graduates

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb Alumna and Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Dr. Crystal L. Hill, will be the guest speaker for the Spring 2024 Commencement program at Gardner-Webb University. The University’s graduation ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in Spangler Stadium.

CMS Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill
CMS Superintendent Dr. Crystal L. Hill

Hill became superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools (CMS) on May 19, 2023. She was hired after a three-month national search, during which Hill served as the system’s interim superintendent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, she leads the second largest school district in North Carolina and 17th largest in the country. Her decisions impact more than 140,406 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 181 schools. She earned her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in 2008 from Gardner-Webb.

“We are always proud to welcome successful alumni back to campus to deliver inspirational commencement addresses to our newest graduates,” shared GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. “This year, we are especially grateful to have Dr. Hill return and provide her wisdom and motivation to the Class of ’24. What Dr. Hill is doing to ensure the highest quality of education for young people in our region is impressive, and that makes her a perfect person to issue a charge to our graduates as they head out into the world.”

Hill has 25 years of experience in education. Before being tapped as CMS interim superintendent in January 2023, Hill served as CMS Chief of Staff, working closely with the superintendent, his cabinet and the Board of Education.

“I am extremely honored to serve as the keynote speaker for Gardner-Webb University’s spring commencement,” Hill said. “My matriculation at Gardner-Webb was transformational and helped shape my educational leadership journey. I look forward to honoring and celebrating the Class of 2024.” 

Hill received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C., and began her career as a first-grade teacher in Guilford County (N.C.) Schools. Next, she served various roles, including assistant principal, principal, and executive director of elementary education and federal programs in Mooresville Graded School District; then, as curriculum coordinator in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County (N.C.) Schools. In 2020, she co-chaired the North Carolina State Board of Education Literacy Task Force.

Before coming to CMS in May 2022, Hill was chief academic officer for Cabarrus County (N.C.) Schools, where she led the district in achieving the highest level of academic performance in history. She also currently serves on the Leading on Opportunity Council, an entity of the Foundation For The Carolinas, that uses strategy, policy and data to help its partners across Charlotte-Mecklenburg improve economic mobility for all. In 2020, she co-chaired the North Carolina State Board of Education Literacy Task Force. Hill’s appointment as Superintendent of CMS in 2023 was historic, as she is the first Black female to serve in that post.

More information on Gardner-Webb University’s May 2024 Commencement is available here.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

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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