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GWU Officials Name New VP for Student Development and Dean of Students

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Lesley Villarose Begins her Responsibilities at Gardner-Webb on January 11, 2021

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—After a nationwide search, Gardner-Webb University officials have named a new vice president for Student Development and dean of students. Lesley Villarose, dean of students at Averett University in Danville, Virginia, will begin her responsibilities at GWU on January 11, 2021.

a portrait photo of Lesley Villarose
Lesley Villarose

She will report directly to GWU President Dr. William M. Downs, serving as a member of the president’s cabinet. Her responsibilities will include leadership and oversight of the Center for Personal and Professional Development, Student Activities, Campus Recreation and New Student Orientation, Counseling Center, Housing and Residence Education, Multicultural Affairs and International Student Services, Title IX Compliance and ADA Coordination, and University Police.

“Lesley Villarose quickly rose to the top of an impressive pool of applicants for this important leadership position,” affirmed President Downs. “She brings a wealth of professional experience with her to Gardner-Webb, along with an infusion of new energy and new ideas for student life and student success.  I have great confidence in her ability to help us grow our ambitions and to make our students’ time at GWU more rewarding than ever.”

Currently, Villarose manages eight departments at Averett: Housing and Residence Life, Student Conduct, Student Engagement, Counseling Services, Health and Wellness, Religious Life, and Student Success. Her responsibilities include creating the overall vision of student life and ensuring the health and well-being of each student by leading institutional response in all student crisis situations, working with appropriate departments and staff members as needed. Villarose has worked at Averett since 2010, also serving as Title IX coordinator, director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development, and a 101 Instructor.

Before coming to Averett, Villarose worked in student development roles at Drexel University, Philadelphia University, and Chestnut Hill College, all in Philadelphia, Pa. She received her Master of Education in Business in 2004 from Temple University in Philadelphia.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Gardner-Webb University community by mentoring and caring for students in a holistic manner with a strong focus on faith and Christianity.

Lesley Villarose

“Throughout my career in higher education, I have had the opportunity to work at a number of colleges and universities that vary in type and size,” Villarose shared. “These experiences have shown me the importance of a private liberal arts education in regards to the success of a student. I am excited to join the Gardner-Webb family to continue to be able to develop and mentor students. The culture of care for the students that has been created by the faculty, staff and administration is evident throughout the university community. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Gardner-Webb University community by mentoring and caring for students in a holistic manner with a strong focus on faith and Christianity.”

A native of Rockville, Md., Villarose graduated in 2004 from Lynchburg (Va.) College, where she majored in communications. “While I was there I was highly involved as a student leader and I was fortunate enough to be able to create relationships with the dean of students at the time as well as other student affairs staff,” she related. “This relationship fostered my appreciation for the work that we do in higher education and the impact we can make daily in a student’s life.”

Villarose and her husband have been married for 14 years and have a daughter who will be 11 in January.

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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