news-category: Academics

Dr. Ben Leslie, GWU Provost, to Step Down in 2022

Spring on Campus

After 16-years in Administrative Role at Gardner-Webb, Leslie Will Return to Teaching

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University has announced that long-time GWU Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Ben Leslie will retire from his post and return to the classroom in 2022 to serve in the School of Divinity as professor of theology and ethics.

Leslie came to Gardner-Webb as provost in 2006 from Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he was academic vice president and dean, and professor of systematic theology and Christian ethics. Leslie also has over two decades of teaching experience in higher education.

“I am indeed thankful for the work that Dr. Leslie has done as Provost during his time at Gardner-Webb,” shared GWU President Dr. William Downs. “That work has been especially challenging of late, with the onset of a global pandemic; yet, Provost Leslie was instrumental in helping us ensure a high level of student success and academic integrity throughout the entire period. I have enjoyed working with Ben and look forward to his many continuing contributions to the GWU mission.”

Dr. Ben Leslie
Dr. Ben Leslie

Leslie earned a Bachelor of Arts from Samford University (Birmingham, Ala.), the Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Ky.), the Master of Theology from Baptist Theological Seminary (Rueschlikon, Switzerland), and the Doctor of Theology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His scholarly interests focus on Christian theology, New Testament studies, Christian ethics and bioethics.

As provost and executive vice president for Gardner-Webb, Leslie supervised the teaching, learning, scholarship, and research initiatives at the University. Through collaborative work with associate provosts, deans, departmental chairs, and other vice presidents, Leslie administered faculty appointments, promotions, and tenure. In addition, Leslie ensured the quality of Gardner-Webb’s curricula and student learning.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the students, faculty, and staff of Gardner-Webb University,” Leslie said. “The last 15 years have had their share of challenges, but through it all we’ve seen remarkable growth in programs and improvements in the academic foundations of the school. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of that journey.”

Since 2009, he has served as Gardner-Webb’s accreditation liaison for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). He provided institutional oversight of the school’s most recent reaffirmation of accreditation (2017) and has frequently served as a committee member for SACSCOC off-site and on-site reviews of other institutions. Leslie also served as interim president for Gardner-Webb from January-June 2019.

Leslie noted the strength of Gardner-Webb has been, and still is, in the student/faculty relationships. “Gardner-Webb is blessed with a remarkable faculty who know what it means to be a student-centered university,” Leslie affirmed. “I am grateful for their support over the years and proud of their many accomplishments. But most of all I am proud of the sacrificial spirit of service that has marked their interaction with our students, a characteristic that in many ways become our hallmark.”

Under Leslie’s leadership Gardner-Webb has been consistently recognized nationally for outstanding achievement through academics and community/service-related efforts.

Leslie is active in the Boiling Springs Rotary Club and has served as its president. He is a member of First Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C., where he teaches Sunday school. An ordained minister and Christian scholar, Leslie has been a featured speaker in churches, conferences, and events and has authored numerous journal articles, essays and publications on Christian life, history, ethics and culture.

Gardner-Webb is retaining the services of Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting to assist in the national search for its next provost. That search will begin immediately, and the exact timing of Dr. Leslie’s return to the faculty will be coordinated with the new provost’s start date.

“I look forward to following the continued success of Gardner-Webb,” Leslie added. “President Downs has set an exciting agenda of growth and continuous improvement. I have no doubt that the school will attract and secure the academic leadership it needs to carry that vision forward in a way that can only strengthen the faculty and the quality of our many academic programs.”

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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