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FROM THE COLLEGES: Gardner-Webb’s Frank Bonner sets retirement; HBU profs to lead ‘Prepared to Answer’ simulcast

In today’s From the Colleges:
Gardner-Webb University
Houston Baptist University

Bonner to retire after 14-year Gardner-Webb presidency

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (BP) — Frank Bonner of Gardner-Webb University has announced plans to retire in January 2019 after 14 years as president during more than three decades as a GWU administrator.

Bonner, 70, came to Gardner-Webb in 1987 as vice president for academic affairs, a role later expanded to vice president for academic and student affairs and then provost and senior vice president. He was named GWU’s 12th president in 2005. Previously, Bonner had been a faculty member and associate dean for special programs at Anderson University in Anderson, S.C.

During his presidency at the Boiling Springs, N.C., campus, Bonner led the university’s largest-ever capital campaign, raising $46 million. Other milestones include the 110,000-square-foot Tucker Student Center; doctoral programs in education and nursing; a physician assistant studies program; purchase and renovation of the former Crawley Hospital for the college of health sciences; major gifts for the Hunt School of Nursing and Godbold School of Business; and full member status in athletics with the Big South Conference.

Bonner is a past president of the Big South Conference and currently is serving on the 24-member NCAA Division I board of directors, encompassing representatives from the division’s various conferences. He also has served on the NCAA’s Committee on Academics, the executive council of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the executive committee of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) association.

Gardner-Webb, with 3,800 students, including graduate and online enrollment, is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina but has elected its own trustees since a 2008 agreement with the convention and receives no BSCNC funding.

Bonner holds a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a master’s degree from the University of Georgia; and an undergraduate degree from Furman University in South Carolina.

“One year from now, it will be very difficult for me to cease doing what I love,” Bonner said in a GWU news release. “However, my wife Flossie and I look forward to more time together, more travel, and more time with six wonderful grandchildren who are growing up before our eyes.”

Gardner-Webb trustee chairman Frank Stewart praised Bonner’s tenure and impact. “During his time as president, the university has experienced tremendous growth in infrastructure, faculty enhancements, student research and engagement. Working with Dr. Bonner has been amazing; he is a godly man with great love for the university and the students.”

‘Prepared to Answer’ to equip believers amid ‘resistant culture’

HOUSTON (BP) — Help for defending the faith will be relayed by four faculty members from Houston Baptist University’s School of Christian Thought in a “Prepared to Answer” simulcast Feb. 17.

The simulcast will be led by Mark Mittelberg, executive director of HBU’s Center for Strategic Evangelism and assistant professor of Christian thought, and Lee Strobel, who holds HBU’s Elizabeth and John Gibson Chair in Apologetics.

Also on the simulcast: Craig Evans, HBU John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins; Melissa Cain Travis, HBU assistant professor of apologetics; and Jeremy Evans, pastor of Woodridge Baptist Church in Kingwood, Texas, which is hosting the simulcast.

Additionally, the simulcast will feature a video by the late Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian convert from Islam who died last year from cancer at age 34.

The simulcast will explore Christian apologetics at an introductory level for churches members, new believers and students in the context of modern culture and biblical faith. It will air from 8 a.m. to noon Central and Pacific time, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern and Mountain time, Saturday, Feb. 17. Pricing and registration information for individuals, small groups and churches can be accessed at preparedtoanswer.live.

“[The apostle] Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 3:15 is well-known,” Mittelberg said, “but often not well-heeded: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’

“Most Christians know they should be ready to give reasons for their faith, but realize they’re not really yet there,” Mittelberg said. “In addition to helping us all become more ‘Prepared to Answer’ the tough challenges to our faith, we’ll strive to help everyone better follow the often-ignored second half of 1 Peter 3:15, which tells us to present our answers with an attitude of ‘gentleness and respect.’ That, probably more than ever before, is a critical prerequisite to getting a hearing in today’s increasingly resistant culture.”

Topics and presenters for the simulcast’s half-hour segments will be:

— “Does Science Disprove God?” — Melissa Cain Travis, author of the forthcoming book, “Science and the Mind of the Maker.”

— “Is the New Testament Reliable?” — Craig Evans, author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence.”

— “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?” — Lee Strobel, author of “The Case for Christ” and “The Case for Grace.”

— “Would a Good God Allow Pain and Suffering?” — Jeremy Evans, author of “The Problem of Evil.”

— “Is God Against Gay People?” — Mark Mittelberg, author of “The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask” and “Confident Faith.”

— “Which Is True: Christianity or Islam?” — the late Nabeel Qureshi, author of “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” and “No God but One: Jesus or Allah?”

For those who are able to attend the live event in-person at 8 a.m. central at Woodridge Baptist Church, admittance is free but tickets are needed; available at Woodridge’s woodridge.org website.

    About the Author

  • Baptist Colllege & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by the communications staffs of Gardner-Webb University and Houston Baptist University.

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