news-category: College of Health Sciences

HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County Establishes Endowed Scholarship for Physician Assistant Studies at Gardner-Webb

Award will Support GWU PA Students who are County Residents or Committed to Practicing in Cleveland County

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County, its board of directors and Executive Director/CEO Dick Baker announced today (Jan. 18) the establishment of an endowed scholarship at Gardner-Webb University. The fund will support students in the Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program. Preference will be given to PA students who are residents of Cleveland County, N.C., and/or who are committed to practicing in Cleveland County.

“We are very excited about this scholarship,” Baker affirmed. “We have such great resources in Cleveland County, and we think it’s part of our responsibility to enhance these education programs, particularly for county residents or for those who will stay in Cleveland County to practice. Hopefully, this scholarship will become an impetus for the program to continue growing and a springboard for other organizations to provide some scholarship dollars or add to this one.”  

Baker noted that Gardner-Webb’s PA studies program aligns with the Foundation’s mission of improving health and wellness in Cleveland County. After speaking with Dr. Nicole Waters, dean of the College of Health Sciences at Gardner-Webb, Baker and the board of directors learned more about the growing and vibrant PA program at Gardner-Webb. When they discovered the need for PA scholarships, the board recognized an opportunity to encourage students entering the healthcare profession, where there is a shortage of providers.

“At Gardner-Webb we’ve been saying for years that we’re a private university with a very public mission,” reminded GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. “Through the HealthCare Foundation’s generosity, this new endowed scholarship program will help PA students to receive a world-class education and then apply their knowledge in direct service to communities in our own county and region.  It’s partnerships like this one that have lasting local impact, and I’m thankful to the Foundation’s staff and board of directors for building this important bridge.”

The HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County awards Community Health Grants to qualified non-profit organizations in the county for innovative programs or initiatives to address healthcare concerns or social factors of health and well-being. Additionally, the organization provides ongoing funding for the Because We Care fund, which directly supports patients battling cancer who are facing financial hardships. Another major initiative is Safe Kids Cleveland County, which includes programs and activities like Kid Tips, SAFETeens, Car Seat Checks, Bicycle Safety & Helmet Distribution, and education programs on teen driving, fire and poison prevention, and stop-the-bleed training.

From left, College of Health Sciences Dean Nicole Waters took HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County Executive Director/CEO Dick Baker, and members of the Board of Directors, Scott Neisler and Dr. Michael Barringer, on a tour of the College of Health Sciences. Barringer, a hospital administrator and retired surgeon, treated patients in this same operating room when it was functioning as Crawley Hospital.

About the HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County

The HealthCare Foundation of Cleveland County is an independent, stand-alone non-profit community foundation with a countywide board of directors. For the purpose of addressing health and wellness issues affecting our residents, every dollar raised stays in Cleveland County. We recognize the need for a countywide non-profit healthcare foundation and actively seek community support for our initiatives.

About Gardner-Webb University

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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