category: President's Blog

September 2023: The Importance of Family

Here at Gardner-Webb University, we are eager and ready to host Family Weekend this September 8-10.  Our campus will come alive with numerous activities, including a huge GWU vs. Elon football game at Spangler Stadium, lots of music (a concert as well as some open mic and karaoke fun), food everywhere (including the grand opening of Bo’s Smokehouse), the massively popular GWU-style BINGO gathering, and a worship service for all.  On behalf of the entire GWU family, I invite you to attend, relax, and enjoy!

Family weekend header

This special weekend gives us all a moment to reflect on family as a valuable part of our lives.  Everyone’s family context is different.  Everywhere family has come to mean something different.  Through all the difference, however, remains one constant—family is important. 

We derive identity from family.  We rely on family for support and love.  We draw strength from family in difficult times, and we rejoice with family in times of celebration.  Our families nurture us, and then they teach us to go out and make it on our own.  Once we arrive at college, the words of the late comedian George Burns begin to ring true: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” 

Kim and I know a little something about how families evolve and change over time.  Our nest seems a bit emptier now that both children have married and moved to some of those other cities that Burns was joking about.  For us, two summer weddings within five weeks of each other also meant the wonderful additions of a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law.  Our Boiling Springs house is quieter now, but our family is stronger, stretching from Oklahoma City to the shores of eastern North Carolina.

The Downs family came to Gardner-Webb in 2019 in large part because the small college setting offered a sense of community that, to us, emulated family in so many positive ways.  We had spent most of our careers and lives at large universities where it was far more challenging to learn names, establish relationships, and build lasting ties.  Four years later, Gardner-Webb truly feels like family. 

At our Gardner-Webb home, we love getting to know each new cohort of students.  We love hearing their stories, learning their ambitions, and sharing in their dreams.   We love seeing how proud our students’ families are of their sons, their daughters, their siblings or their grandchildren.  From the angst of Move-In Day to the pure joy—only a few short years later—of Commencement, there is immense satisfaction in knowing that the entire Gardner-Webb Family has rallied to make sure that every Runnin’ Bulldog succeeds.  That’s what families do.

Welcome to your weekend, Gardner-Webb Families!  You should always see this beautiful campus as home.  The GWU home is a welcoming one, offering the rich mosaic that is our student body a place to live, learn, and grow…intellectually, professionally, and spiritually.  I hope you enjoy this time together and that you will gather here—among friends and family—often.    

Dr. William M. Downs

Previous Post

Fall 2023 Food Service Information

Next Post

Advent 2023

Related Posts

  • Post

    Family Weekend:  Making New Memories at GWU

    This past weekend Gardner-Webb University hosted its twice-annual Family Weekend. What a joy it was to see so many parents, grandparents and siblings reconnect with their GWU students for fun, food, and fellowship. Granted, our students had only just returned to campus from the Christmas break a few short weeks earlier; nevertheless, the reunions were […]

  • Post

    2023 Advent Devotion: Day 23

    Monday, December 25 Luke 1:46b-55; 1 Samuel 1:1-18; Hebrews 9:1-14 Welcome Christmas! Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is a day of joy and a day of majesty. It is our day to magnify His great and holy name. Glory to God! As you conclude the 2023 Advent devotional […]

  • Post

    2023 Advent Devotion: Day 22

    Sunday, December 24 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:26-38; Romans 16:25-27 During Advent our minds are oriented toward the past as we remember the birth of our Savior, and our minds are oriented toward the future as we eagerly anticipate His return. There is a rhythm of looking back and looking ahead in this season. As […]