The Gardner-Webb University (GWU) Board of Trustees has named an interim president, who will begin Feb. 1 when President Frank Bonner retires. Ben Leslie, GWU provost and executive vice president, will lead the university until the new president assumes the role.
“With nearly 13 years of administrative experience as provost and executive vice president of the university, the board is pleased to entrust Dr. Leslie with this responsibility and confident that his leadership will help ensure a stable and smooth transition,” noted Jennifer Marion Mills, chair of the GWU Board of Trustees.
Interviews of presidential candidates have been completed, and an announcement on the new leader is expected soon.
Leslie came to Gardner-Webb 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. He earned a bachelor of arts from Samford University (Birmingham, Ala.), a master of divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Ky.), a master of theology from Baptist Theological Seminary (Rueschlikon, Switzerland), and a doctor of theology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland.
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. Under Leslie’s leadership Gardner-Webb has been consistently recognized nationally for outstanding achievement through academics and community/service-related efforts.
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.