category: Faculty Emeriti - In Memory Of

Roger G. Gaddis

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Roger G. Gaddis

Dr. Roger G. Gaddis (1946-2020) was born in Gastonia, N.C., to A.A. and Minalee Gaddis. He graduated in 1965 from the former Frank L. Ashley High School in Gastonia. He then earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, his master’s degree in English from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Prior to joining the faculty at Gardner-Webb, he worked as an instructor of English at both the University of Tennessee and Winthrop College (now University), as well as an instructor of psychology at both the University of South Carolina and Gaston College. Gaddis joined Gardner-Webb in the fall of 1974 as an associate professor of psychology and department chair. He served as department chair for 17 years, and he taught classes at the University for 37 years.

Among his proudest accomplishments, Gaddis participated in the planning stages, the implementation, and the administration of the Greater Opportunities for Adult Learners (GOAL) program (now known as the Degree Completion Program). The program, developed and implemented in the late 1970s, made it possible for many adult learners to complete their degrees.

He enjoyed teaching GOAL classes because many of the students demonstrated a firm dedication to their educational aspirations. GOAL alumni often expressed their appreciation to Gaddis for his guidance and his commitment to the success of the GOAL program.

In addition to his work with the GOAL program, he helped develop the University’s graduate psychology program, and he served as the coordinator of the Human Services program until 2010. In May 2011, Dr. Frieda Brown, one of Gaddis’s colleagues, said he was “the architect” of Gardner-Webb’s School of Psychology and Counseling. Brown stated that Gaddis left behind “students who are making a difference in others’ lives, colleagues who are grateful that it is his value system that has defined us, a school that is better for his having served it, and friends who remember his loving support and commitment to excellence.”

Beyond the classroom, Gaddis was proud to have achieved a fellowship three separate times from the National Science Foundation Endowment. He was among 10 professors chosen each year out of multiple applicants nationwide to study together during the summer months. He also traveled the country as a Gardner-Webb ambassador, and he presented professional papers at various conferences and colleges. In addition to his educational achievements, he served on the board of directors for Broughton Hospital, Cleveland County Mental Health, and Pathways.

Gaddis retired in 2011 as professor and a faculty marshal. He said at that time, he would like to be remembered by the Gardner-Webb community as one who embodies the University’s commitment to Christian faith in the forms of selfless service, moral action, and treatment of all people with respect and dignity.

As a lifelong learner, Gaddis sought to instill in his students an enthusiasm for knowledge and experience that could positively impact the ever-changing world. He fostered intellectual growth within classrooms, and he modeled for students the importance of serving others through his advocacy efforts on behalf of the mental health community. For his work on campus and in the community, he received The President’s Award for Community Engagement in 2006-07.

Gaddis was also known by many to be a formidable opponent on the Gardner-Webb Racquetball courts, and defeated many unsuspecting college students throughout the years. With each win he would share his trademark smile and thank the opponent for the joy of competition.

Gaddis married Susan Avery Woodall in 1968. Susan earned her Master of Arts in Education at Gardner-Webb. The couple has two children, Dr. David B. Gaddis and the Rev. Deborah Gaddis Reeves, who earned her Master of Arts in Divinity at Gardner-Webb.

Dr. Roger G. Gaddis passed away at home on August 14, 2020. He is survived by his wife Susan, his daughter Deborah, son-in-law Stephen, grandchildren Kellyn, Garrett and Landry, siblings Marcella Wiggins, Keiffer Gaddis, and Marlene Justice, as well as in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Source: Personal interview with Susan Gaddis—Matthew Tessnear

Updated: Noel T Manning II, Aug. 2022

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