news-category: Academics

Gardner-Webb Officials Name New Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Robert G. Prickett Begins Role on Jan. 5, 2023

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Officials at Gardner-Webb University have named Dr. Robert G. Prickett as the new dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Prickett previously served as associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., a position he’s held for seven years. Prickett has worked at Winthrop in various administrative and teaching roles since 2010.

He was chosen after a national search by a committee of GWU faculty representatives along with the president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and GWU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Karen Aubrey. He will begin his new position at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 5, 2023.

Prickett is enthusiastic about joining Gardner-Webb. “The breadth and depth of programs within the College of Arts & Sciences are exciting, and my own experience affords me opportunities to professionally appreciate many of them directly,” he assessed. “Moreover, Gardner-Webb, itself, is in a period where—under President (Dr. William) Downs’ leadership—the university is finding ways to expand its reach while staying true to its core values. During the interview process, I became even more impressed with the institution and the people with whom I interacted. I think I can make important contributions to the lives of students here through collaboration with my new colleagues, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to build relationships across campus and the community as part of that process.”

As the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Prickett will report directly to Aubrey. He will play a significant role in determining and implementing the University’s strategic priorities, providing leadership to academic programs, fostering faculty and staff development, and supporting engaged student learning.

Aubrey noted that Prickett’s proven administrative experience will support the College of Arts & Sciences faculty and bring opportunities for both faculty and students. “His background has an impressive combination of cross-disciplinary activity in support of academic programs, faculty development, and student recruitment and retention,” she praised. “It’s clear that Dr. Prickett cares deeply about student success and about fostering an environment that promotes fulfilling and meaningful careers for faculty and staff. He will fit right in to the Gardner-Webb community.”

Gardner-Webb President Dr. William Downs affirmed the importance of the position. “The College of Arts and Sciences can and should be the indispensable hub of scholarly activity at our university,” he stated. “Our new dean assumes the helm of a talented group of faculty and staff, a diverse array of degree programs, and an ambitious group of students who are eager to learn and lead. The College is bursting with potential, and I am delighted by the addition of Dr. Prickett to our Gardner-Webb family.”

After earning his bachelor’s degrees from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., in English and journalism, news-editorial with a minor in theater, Prickett began his career in education as a high school English teacher. In 1998, he received a master’s degree from Ball State in secondary education with a major in English. In 2004, he received a master’s degree in English from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. He earned his Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction with an English major from Virginia Tech in 2005. While earning his doctorate, he served as a doctoral assistant at Virginia Tech. Before coming to Winthrop, Prickett served as assistant professor in the Department of Education at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport.

During his career, Prickett has held three department chair positions in education, English, and Interdisciplinary Studies at his two previous institutions. As liaison for Winthrop’s College of Arts & Sciences with the College of Education, he served as co-principal investigator and leadership team member for the award and execution of a $3.8 million NetSERVE (Network for Sustainable Educational Residencies that Value Equity) grant. This grant offers teacher residency programs for graduate pre-service teachers with guaranteed employment in one of three rural, high-needs South Carolina school districts upon graduation.

Prickett’s vast experience also includes co-leadership in the development of a Dual Enrollment program for Winthrop University. The program has increased partly with a focus on executing dual credit agreements with five local high schools. As Winthrop’s College of Arts & Sciences’ liaison with the enrollment management and student success leadership teams, Prickett has helped with recruitment, retention and student success. While serving as a professor of English, he taught undergraduate and graduate, online and face-to-face courses ranging from Writing 101 to Adolescent Literature to Secondary English Methods to the Literary Merits of MARVEL.

He stated that his first goal is to get to know the Gardner-Webb students, faculty, staff, and alumni and to have the community get to know him. “There are great things happening inside and outside of the College of Arts & Sciences at Gardner-Webb, and I am extremely honored to be invited to join and lead the College at this time,” he asserted. “Working with my new colleagues, we’ll be exploring the distinctive and significant elements that are part of the College of Arts & Sciences identity so that we can become increasingly intentional about how we communicate our value to the institution, its students, and to prospective new partners.” 

Members of the Search Committee:

  • Provost and Vice President Aubrey.
  • Bobbie Cox, professor and chair, Department of Public Service.
  • Mitch Porter, assistant professor, Quality Assurance coordinator, College of Education.
  • Robert Canoy, dean, School of Divinity, professor of Theology.
  • Kortni Alston, associate professor of Journalism and Communications and chair of the Department of Communication, Art, and Design.
  • Blake Elizalde, SGA president.
  • Chris Davis, professor of English, chair of the Department of English Language & Literature.
  • Mischia Taylor, dean, Godbold College of Business, assistant professor of marketing.

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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