gardner-webb-universityGardner-Webb University has experienced remarkable growth, perseverance, and maturity. The institution began as a boarding high school and later became a junior college. Today Gardner-Webb is a thriving regional university with growing master’s and doctoral programs.

From a movement initiated by the Kings Mountain Baptist Association in 1903, and later joined by the Sandy Run Baptist Association, the Boiling Springs High School was chartered on December 2, 1905, as an institution “where the young…could have the best possible educational advantages under distinctive Christian influence.” This close relationship of the institution to the area churches continues today.

In response to the changing educational needs of the area, the institution was transformed into the Boiling Springs Junior College in 1928. The Great Depression created many problems for the College, but its survival was secured by the sacrifices of many loyal supporters.

In 1942, Governor O. Max Gardner began devoting his energy, time and wealth to strengthening and guiding the College. So important was his influence that the name of the institution was changed to Gardner-Webb College in honor of the governor, his wife Fay Webb Gardner, and their families.

The decades following World War II were years of physical growth and academic development. New buildings went up as enrollments increased. A major step in the institution’s development was its full accreditation as a senior college in 1971. In 1980 the institution began offering a Master of Arts degree in education.

The institution officially became know as Gardner-Webb University in January 1993, culminating years of preparation. Today Gardner-Webb is a thriving regional university, which offers eight distinct degree programs, has a highly qualified faculty and a beautiful campus of over 200 acres.

Historically the University has played significant roles in teacher education and ministerial preparation for church-related vocations. Programs of instruction and experiences designed to prepare teachers and ministers continue to be major objectives of the University.

Although there have been many changes over the years, Gardner-Webb University remains closely related to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The University holds in high esteem its commitment to Christian principles and values as the best foundation for the development of human personality and social order.

WEBB On Gardner 

WEBB: I do not know what happened, not very much of what happened, before I went over to the Budget (Bureau). I was working in the Treasury as executive assistant to the Undersecretary, and had known Fred Vinson, the Secretary, and Max Gardner, the Undersecretary for a long period of time and had had fairly intimate discussions with them. We had a little group that used to meet about once a month. Some people from New York, from various parts of the country including Senator Walter George and Fred Vinson and Governor Gardner, [2] would meet to have a few drinks and talk about the state of the world. So I had known a little bit about the government and how things were going, because there was a good deal of discussion of President Truman and how he was approaching the presidency and so forth — in those early days.

But my personal knowledge really stems from August of 1946, when President Truman asked me to take over the Budget. So while I am aware there was a period in which there appeared to be some confusion, I became aware as soon as I got to Bureau of the Budget, that a good many of the papers that we were sending over for the President’s consideration were being — or — pawed over by the people around the White House before they got to the President, and I made a very clear determination that I was going to deal directly with the President. I wasn’t going to take second hand instructions, say from Harry Vaughan or anybody else in the White House on the important matters that were my responsibility; but that I would deal in the White House with anyone the President appointed to handle the matter just as if he were the President; that I would give him the same service from the Bureau that we would give the President were he personally doing it; and that we would look forward to try to forecast from our knowledge of government, the problems that he was likely to face in the months ahead, so that we could start staff work in advance of having the matter.

O. Max Gardner Recital Hall at GWU