Trustees | General Education

GWU stands alone in Carolinas to earn an ‘A’ in annual study

SHELBY STAR   |  June 28, 2016 by Editorial Staff

BOILING SPRINGS – An annual study on core curriculum requirements at more than 1,100 colleges and universities from all over the United States has placed Gardner-Webb University at the head of the class for the fifth year in a row.

Ranked among 25 institutions throughout the nation with an “A” grade, GWU is the only school in the Carolinas to earn an “A” distinction for general requirement standards.

The 2015-2016 What Will They Learn? Study, conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, ranks the core curriculum of all the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states. The ranking places GWU in the top two percent in the nation, included with schools such as Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, among others.

The ACTA study analyzes seven core subjects and rates universities accordingly. ACTA believes that composition, U.S. government/history, economics, literature, math, science and foreign language components help students gain the knowledge and values necessary for responsible democratic citizenship. “A”-rated schools require at least six out of the seven core courses; “B” schools must offer four or five out of seven.

GWU blends a liberal arts core curriculum with more than 60 specialized major and minor programs. Officials say the result is a truly comprehensive academic experience grounded in a Christian environment of service, leadership and intellectual freedom.

Dr. Ben Leslie is provost and executive vice president for Gardner-Webb and believes the distinction is proof of the University’s commitment to providing an excellent academic backbone for its students.

“It’s in these basic courses … where students begin to gain a comprehensive understanding of the world,” he said. “So we take this award very seriously, and we’re encouraged that we appear to be doing something really worthwhile in the lives of our students.”

The 1,100 institutions measured in the What Will They Learn? Study comprise all public universities with a stated liberal arts mission as well as hundreds of private colleges and universities selected on the basis of size, reputation, and regional representation. Last year, GWU was among only 23 schools in the nation to earn an “A.”

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. To learn more, visit For additional information on the What Will They Learn? report, visit


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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