Coleman Lew + Associates Seeks Leader for Gardner-Webb University

Coleman Lew + Associates Gardner-Webb University

June 11, 2018 – Charlotte, NC-based executive recruitment firm Coleman Lew + Associates has been selected to find the next president for Gardner-Webb University (GWU), a private, Christian institution in Boiling Springs, NC.

A. Frank Bonner is retiring early next year after close to 14 years in the top job and nearly 32 years with the school.

Gardner-Webb’s president leads a cabinet made up of the provost and executive vice president, senior vice president for administration, vice president for student development, vice president for external affairs/advancement, and vice president for athletics as well as 160 faculty and 300 staff members.

Ensuring Success

As leader of the university, the president is responsible for ensuring the success of the school’s mission, academic integrity, fiscal stability and viability, enrollment management, fundraising efforts, personnel development and physical plant management, said Coleman Lew. The individual is also expected to work closely with the board of trustees in developing, communicating and executing a strategy consistent with the overall Christian mission and values of GWU to prepare graduates for professional and personal success.

The president’s responsibilities also include: exceptional leadership, including recruiting, retaining, managing, motivating and evaluating a professional staff; strategic, financial, and operational leadership and oversight in budgeting, financial management and administration; and academic leadership, along with the Provost, in recruiting, retaining and motivating a high-quality faculty committed to the values of the University.

Related: Haley Associates Selected to Find Next President for Methodist University

Other duties call for: strengthening and promoting the mission and values of the university; championing liberal arts education in a Christian environment; promoting initiatives to attract qualified students, increase retention and support completion of degree programs by students; and actively participating in fundraising and development activities, major gift solicitations and fostering of growth to the endowment.

The Ideal Candidate

The president must also: promote an environment that ensures the safety of students; understand the importance of and show support for athletics, student activities and organizations; support activities consistent with character development and the GWU service leadership tradition; and serve as the face of the university and seek appropriate opportunities to promote and market GWU in the community, the region, and nationally (if desired by the board) via the media, public relations activities, community activities, etc.


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The ideal candidate should exhibit a passion and enthusiasm for, and commitment to, academically excellent, student-centered, liberal arts education in a Christian environment, said the search firm. Prospects are expected to espouse principles based on strong Christian faith: integrity, honesty, sincerity and compassion. The individual should also be a visionary, strategic and creative thinker who is able to think innovatively and explore new ideas. The person must also understand the changing landscape in higher education and be able to articulate the university’s vision and strategy.

Candidates are required to have a proven record of successful leadership and managerial skills, whether within or outside of an academic environment, along with exceptional people skills and interpersonal abilities, said Coleman Lew. They should also be accessible, energetic and enthusiastic and capable of building and maintaining close relationships and engendering trust. It is important that they also be willing and eager to use these attributes for community relations and financial development.

Related: William Funk & Associates Selected by College of Charleston to Find New President

Gardner-Webb asks that candidates have excellent written and oral communication skills. They should also be dynamic fundraisers, have superior business management skills and strong financial acumen, and show a willingness to make difficult decisions and take appropriate risks.

A Well-Respected Recruiter

With an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,400 students, GWU’s overall enrollment is nearly 4,000 students, including the day program, graduate studies, and the Degree Completion Program. Students hail from 40 states and 15 foreign countries. GWU offers a comprehensive academic program, with more than 80 undergraduate and graduate major fields of study offered through five professional schools, two academic schools, and 13 academic departments.

Coleman Lew + Associates recruits CEOs, board members and senior leaders for national and international companies, institutions of higher education, independent schools, and a wide variety of non-profit organizations. The firm is currently leading searches for the president and CEO of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc., executive director of the Richland County (SC) Recreation Commission, dean of the school of business at Claflin University. and an array of other roles.

Coleman Lew’s list of completed assignments is lengthy and includes: vice president for finance and business at the Citadel, vice president of human resources for Wingate University, director of sales for Costco U.S. and director of criminal justice services for Mecklenburg County (NC), among others.

Related: Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates Seeks President for University of Oklahoma

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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