“In business, the greatest rewards come to those who can adapt to the changing dynamics of a global economy without losing sight of their core values. These are the ethical entrepreneurs—innovators and leaders who understand that maximizing profits and maintaining integrity aren’t mutually exclusive,” maintains Dr. Anthony Negbenebor, dean of one of North Carolina’s rising star schools and insightful thought leader.
That is how success is defined at the Godbold School of Business at Gardner-Webb University, a private Christian school with its main campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., and satellite campus in Charlotte. The school’s renowned graduate programs—including its online M.B.A., ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 2012 (U.S. News & World Report) and No. 9 worldwide (BusinessMBA.org)—are led by seasoned practitioners from around the world.
Godbold School faculty bring their multicultural perspectives to bear as they provide students with a strong foundation in theory, experiential learning and ethics, enabling graduates to compete globally and make a profound impact in their chosen fields.
“Ours is an entrepreneurial setting with a strong foundation in ethics. In fact, ethics is in the fiber of every course we teach. When graduates leave here, they are prepared to adapt to new companies, cultures and situations with uncompromising integrity,” affirms Negbenebor.
A Strong Foundation
Gardner-Webb University derives its name from O. Max Gardner, distinguished governor of North Carolina in the 1930s, and his wife, Fay Webb Gardner. Founded in 1905 as Boiling Springs High School, it became Boiling Springs Junior College in 1928; was renamed Gardner-Webb College in 1942; became a university in 1993; and officially named its Godbold School of Business in 2008.
The Godbold School was so named in honor of the generous contribution to Gardner-Webb by John and Linda Godbold from Shelby, North Carolina. John Godbold founded Carolina State Bank which has become Fifth Third Bank in that region. It was the Godbolds’ ambition to create a unique learning environment for students and individuals seeking to improve their lives and pursue business careers.
The school’s founding campus is in Boiling Springs, just 50 miles west of Charlotte, with branch campuses in Charlotte and Winston-Salem where the university owns its own buildings, and satellite locations in partnership with local community colleges.
The school describes its mission as providing “outstanding undergraduate and graduate education that is strongly grounded in the liberal arts while offering opportunities to prepare for various professions. Fostering meaningful intellectual thought, critical analysis, and spiritual challenge within a diverse community of learning, Gardner-Webb is dedicated to higher education that integrates scholarship with Christian life.
“By embracing faith and intellectual freedom, balancing conviction with compassion, and inspiring a love of learning, service, and leadership, Gardner-Webb prepares its graduates to make significant contributions for God and humanity in an ever-changing global community.
“The Godbold School of Business provides students with a unique learning environment,” confirms Negbenebor, “where a high standard of excellence embraces integrity as much as knowledge and skill.
“At Gardner-Webb, we seek to educate men and women to compete effectively in tomorrow’s business world. In addition to world-class skill development in business, students build up ethics skills and credibility to become true leaders in today’s society.
“Our undergraduate and graduate programs offer a variety of opportunities to help students meet career goals by providing business skills that can be used across all industries,” confirms Negbenebor. “Our small class sizes allow professors to provide individual attention in classrooms that are equipped with state-of-the-art computer equipment and facilitate hands-on exercises and experiential learning.
“We take pride in a student-centered approach where faculty, staff and community members partner closely with students throughout their academic journeys and beyond, guiding each student’s unique sense of purpose and empowering graduates to be difference makers for God and humanity.”
Indeed, Gardner-Webb’s logo embodies all of these components: The interwoven flames represent the Gardner-Webb student, Christ as the light of the world, and the warm and welcoming environment of the university; while the shield conveys the university’s environment where students are provided a supportive community for spiritual and intellectual growth.
Igniting the Mind
As dean of the nationally accredited Godbold School of Business, Negbenebor constantly reinforces his ambitions for students to not just learn, but understand the application of that learning.
“When a student comes to me for counsel, I care about them learning something new they can learn to better themselves in the world. I tell them, ‘Don’t worry about the grade; learn the material and how it applies. When you know that, the “A” will follow.’
“Just getting good grades does not ensure success. You have to be practical. Employers don’t merely care about grades; they care if you can apply what you’ve learned to help their company. ‘Don’t tell me; show me,’ especially in this high technology world.”
Negbenebor has been on the faculty for over 25 years now, having arrived at Gardner-Webb in 1989. He first joined the faculty as professor of Economics and International Business. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University.
Across the board, the faculty members in the School of Business hold both the academic and professional credentials to offer quality education. Godbold faculty members bring their multi-cultural perspectives to bear as they provide students with a strong foundation in theory, experiential learning and ethics, enabling students to compete globally and make a profound impact in their chosen fields.
Additionally, most faculty members have significant professional experience to lend understanding and application to the theories that they teach. “The experience of our faculty includes engineering, sales, legal counsel, technical writing, line management, and senior management,” says Negbenebor.
“This experience comes from such diverse industries as oil and gas refining, consumer product manufacturing and sales, industrial product manufacturing and sales, restaurant management, health care administration, and consulting. Nearly half of our faculty have lived and worked overseas. Both the domestic and the international experience allow us to give our students a well-rounded perspective on the theories and practices of business.
Courses of Study
“In trying to determine which path of education to pursue, the School of Business can offer undergraduate as well as graduate programs that provide insight and opportunity in a variety of disciplines,” says Negbenebor. “We prepare students for careers across the spectrum of business disciplines; from traditional areas like Accounting and Finance, to ‘hot’ disciplines such as Management Information Systems and International Business.”
i Undergraduate is the larger school. “For undergraduates, we have what is called the DCP program—degree completion program. It is designed for evening adult students to return to school and finish their degree. Also, for those from community college and working.
“We have students from community colleges all over the state because we have branches all over the state with faculty members traveling to each site. Now we can also reach those students with our online options as well.”
Gardner-Webb offers the following undergraduate Bachelor of Science degrees from the Godbold School of Business: Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Economics and Finance, International Business, Marketing and Healthcare Management. They also have various undergraduate offerings through the Broyhill School of Management.
On the graduate level, Godbold’s most populated program is the M.B.A. with different emphases including: banking and finance, economics, forensic accounting, human resource management, management information systems, and marketing, among others.
“Our M.B.A. online is our largest program. It is consistently ranked in the top 50 in the country by all the ranking institutions,” comments Negbenebor.
The school of business also offers an International M.B.A., Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.), and Master of Wealth and Trust Management (M.W.T.M.). Joint M.B.A. programs are offered with the School of Divinity (M.Div./M.B.A.) and the School of Nursing (M.S.N./M.B.A.). Also offered are MBA Plus certificates allowing those who have earned their M.B.A. to come back and take courses in a specialized area and to teach at the college level.
As one of only two institutions in the U.S. offering the M.W.T.M. degree, Gardner-Webb has developed the Brinkley Financial Group Master of Wealth and Trust management program. It gives graduates a significant competitive edge in the banking, insurance and financial services industries, where asset management is a critical specialty.
Negbenebor speaks with great pride of the school, its programs and its certifications. “We just added the Wealth and Trust Management degree this past summer. Its first class is nearly half-way through the two-year graduate program designed to prepare graduates to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (C.F.P.) certification.”
The Godbold School of Business has added also certifications from Bloomberg and Morningstar Direct so that financial planners will be prepared to use these valuable tools.
“We want them educated on the most up-to-date and savvy financial planning and management software available,” comments Negbenebor. “These students are completing graduate degrees for jobs including investments and portfolio management, finance, retirement and estate planning, trust management, securities, private equity, risk management and banking.”
“We also offer disciplines that are not taught at every university,” continues Negbenebor. “We started a Healthcare Management Program last spring geared towards graduate students that would like to be healthcare administrators, also nursing students, hospice and sales reps.
“Hospitality and Tourism Management started this past summer, geared for those individuals who would like to manage hotels and hospitality institutions, those who aspire to be directors of tourism, or those who would like to work in reservation, housing development, and so forth.
“Our Sport Management major, offered jointly by the School of Business and the Department of Physical Education, Wellness, and Sport Studies, has become one of our most popular areas of study. The Sport Management major prepares students for employment by professional athletic organizations and by public or private athletic facilities as coaches, club professionals, or in running athletic facilities.”
A Well-Rounded Education
The School of Business also offers a variety of opportunities outside of the classroom.
“You may choose to complete an internship with one of the companies in our area, to study or travel abroad through the university, or to take advantage of our Campus New York program,” describes Negbenebor. “You may also want to pursue a leadership position in student organizations such as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) or the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Program.
“A variety of organizations and classes take advantage of Gardner-Webb’s Broyhill Adventure Course, allowing student s to learn and stretch their skills and confidence through climbing and other team-building exercises. All of these opportunities help students develop themselves into the type of individual that is attractive to prospective employers.”
Numerous accolades attest to Gardner-Webb’s success. The U.S. News & World Report also ranked Gardner-Webb as one of the “Best Universities” in the South that offer “a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs.” Gardner-Webb’s core curriculum ranks in the nation’s top two percent for quality and breadth according to the recent What Will They Learn? study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).
Gardner-Webb was selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for its prestigious Community Engagement Classification, recognizing the University’s institutionalized commitment to service. Gardner-Webb has also been named to the John Templeton Foundation’s Honor Roll for Character-Building Colleges and Universities.
Negbenebor is not one to rest on laurels, however. He believes strongly, “A good liberal education is not just about learning to write well or to think critically, or any other specific outcome or competency. It is about putting students into contexts in which they are exposed to new ideas, asked to think about them, and to talk or write about them. One hopes that students will be engaged and questioning—and even thrilled—by what they learn.
“In addition to mastering the basic competencies, we as educators need to ensure that students will have the intellectual experiences that apply directly to real life experience. And that they are well equipped to make ethical choices and act with integrity.
“We know that the world is always being interpreted, and these interpretations are shaped by the categories of thought that we use to make sense and to make meaning of the world around us. A good education should offer experiences that reshape those categories so that our interpretations—in fact, the world itself—appear different to us before and after the educational process.
“To that end,” Negbenebor continues, “the Godbold School of Business seeks to turn out graduates that are compelled, not only by ambition in the business world, but by being honorable men and women as measured by traditional Christian values. The university’s mission is to serve God and humanity.”