news-category: Alumni

Four Gardner-Webb Alumni Recognized as Distinguished Alumni of the Year

The four Distinguished Alumni of the Year, from left, Terry Eddinger, Kimberly Moore, Jon-Eric Sullivan and Dr. Patricia Greene Palmer.
The four 2021 Distinguished Alumni of the Year are, from left, Terry Eddinger, Kimberly Moore, Jon-Eric Sullivan and Dr. Patricia Greene Palmer.

Honorees include Dr. Patricia Palmer, Rear Adm. Terry Eddinger, Jon-Eric Sullivan and Dr. Kimberly Moore

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb honored outstanding members of the University family as GWU’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni of The Year during Homecoming activities on Oct. 23. Since 1957, The Gallery of Distinguished Alumni has honored alumni who have made significant contributions in their fields of service and the communities in which they serve.

Aliah Price speaks at the Distinguished Alumni brunch.
Aliah Price, a member of the Alumni Advisory Board, introduces the process for the induction ceremony. A 2019 graduate of Gardner-Webb, Price is pursuing her MBA after working for Shoe Show and Lowe’s Corporate.

Four alumni were recognized with this prestigious title, including Dr. Patricia Greene Palmer, Rear Adm. Terry Eddinger, Jon-Eric Sullivan, and Dr. Kimberly Moore.

Dr. Patricia Greene Palmer

Class of 1957

From 1967 to 2000, Palmer taught Biology, Botany, and Field Botany at Louisburg (N.C.)  College. In 1989, she was awarded the Naomi Dickens Shaw Award for Faculty Teaching Excellence. For the last 10 years of her tenure there, Palmer served as chairman of the science department. Palmer entered Gardner-Webb Junior College as a freshman with the intention of majoring in English. But after one semester in Paul Stacy’s biology class, she switched her major to Biology and earned her associate’s degree. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Appalachian State University (Boone), she returned to Gardner-Webb, where she was a physical education and biology lab instructor for three years. She also coached the women’s basketball team, sponsored the cheerleaders and planned the May Day Activities every year.

With full scholarships from the National Science Foundation, Palmer earned a M.A.T. in Biology at Duke University, a Ph.D. in Botany at North Carolina State University, and spent a year as a Post-Doctoral Student in Botany at Duke. In the summer of 1976, she spent four months studying West African grasses and collecting samples of mud rich in fossil grass leaves from Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana. By determining the kind of grasses growing at different times, it helped to reconstruct the past climate of the region. Five Monographs describing this research were published by the Smithsonian Press.

In the 1960s, Palmer began collecting N.C. Pottery that led to a fun lifetime hobby. After retiring from teaching at Louisburg College in 2000, she opened Lane and Hamilton Antiques that specializes in old N.C. Pottery and other small antiques.

Terry Eddinger

Class of 1988

Eddinger, a native of Thomasville, N.C., was promoted to Rear Admiral in October 2020, becoming the highest-ranking Navy Reserve chaplain. Currently, he serves as the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gardner-Webb in 1988; a Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1990, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Old Testament Archaeology/Ancient Near Eastern History from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995. He completed additional studies at US Naval War College, the Joint Forces Staff College, the University of Virginia, and the University of Missouri, Kansas City. 

He joined the US Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps in November 1995, as a Lieutenant (junior grade). He has served in the Navy for 26 years, including eight years with US Marine Corps and four and one-half years with the US Coast Guard.  His assignments include two combat tours: a six-month Persian Gulf deployment supporting Operation Southern Watch, and to Al-Anbar, Iraq, with Marine Aircraft Group 26 in 2005 supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. His other assignments have been in Rota, Spain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to Headquarters, Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans. As a reservist, he has served in various units, including as Officer-in-Charge of two reserve units and Assistant Officer-in-Charge of two units. While on active duty, Eddinger organized and supervised 43 volunteer community service projects in nine countries, accumulating over 7,550 hours of volunteer community service. These projects benefited local schools, orphanages, religious organizations, public parks, hospitals, and community centers. He’s received many decorations and personal awards, including a Defense Meritorious Service Medal and two Meritorious Service Medals.

As a civilian, Eddinger served as the Benjamin Miller Professor of Old Testament at Carolina Graduate School of Divinity for 19 years. He has over 165 publications, including two books. He also has interests in Near Eastern archaeology, running charity races, coin collecting, traveling, and helping in community improvement events, including volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. He is a Master Scuba Diver and enjoys diving in exotic locations. He taught as a volunteer at the Baptist Bible School of Belize, a school founded by Dr. Robert “Bob” Lamb, the founding Dean of the M. Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb.

Jon-Eric Sullivan

Class of 2000

Sullivan is in his 18th season with the Green Bay Packers and fourth as co-director of player personnel. Sullivan spent two seasons (2016-17) as the director of college scouting after being promoted on June 16, 2016. Sullivan previously served as a college scout covering the Central Plains region (2008-11) and the Southeast region (2012-15) after working as the team’s National Football Scouting representative to the annual NFL Scouting Combine and authoring evaluations of all prospective seniors in the Southwest region.

Sullivan joined the team’s football operations department on July 12, 2004, having previously served as a scouting intern during Green Bay’s 2003 training camp.

He played his junior and senior seasons (1998-99) as a wide receiver at Gardner-Webb. As a senior, he was named to the all-conference team after leading the Bulldogs with 43 receptions. Previously, he played at the University of South Carolina from 1995-97 before transferring to Gardner-Webb.

Following his college football career, Sullivan served as a student-assistant receivers coach at Gardner-Webb for one season. Though officially listed as a student assistant, he actually served as the primary position coach for the receivers.

Sullivan obtained a Bachelor of Arts in social science from Gardner-Webb in December 2000, and then worked three years (2001-04) for GMAC’s sales and credit administration departments before joining the Packers’ staff.

Dr. Kimberly D. Moore

Classes of 2014 and 2017

Moore is the Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church of Gastonia, N.C. Her election to the office marks a historic event in Gaston County. On Nov. 8, 2008, Moore became the first female to be elected to serve as a senior pastor within the Gaston County Baptist Association.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Lander University in Greenwood, S.C. She is a two-time graduate of Gardner-Webb University, receiving her Master of Divinity Degree in Pastoral Studies in 2014.  She is the Robert L. Lamb Ministry Award Recipient for the same year and was also honored to serve as a commencement speaker. She earned her Doctor of Divinity Degree in Pastoral Ministries in 2017, and has also served as a former adjunct professor for Gardner-Webb’s School of Divinity.

Moore received her license to preach the Gospel in August 1995. She was ordained a local minister in 2001. She was honored to serve as guest minister for the 2017 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Elevating Preaching Conference and in 2018, was the keynote speaker for the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

She is the founder and CEO of Kimberly Moore Ministries, which is an outreach ministry committed to ministering to and restoring the whole person through Kingdom Influencer Classes, Ministry Mentoring Sessions, and Regional Conferences.

Moore was honored to be appointed to serve on the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth by Governor Roy Cooper in 2019. She also serves on the Board for Gaston Together, which is a board designed to develop ways to enhance unity within Gaston County. In addition, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

She is the author of “Ministry Moments with Pastor Kimberly Moore: 30 Day Devotional,” written in 2012. She is also the author of “The Bible in 52 Weeks: Devotional for Women,” which is a 2020 Amazon Best Seller.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, 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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