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Gardner-Webb namesake removed by board of trustees for 'malicious' conduct



BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The Gardner-Webb board of trustees removed O. Max Gardner III from its membership for ‘malicious, threatening, and defamatory’ conduct, according to a communications spokesperson.

In a release from Gardner-Webb University, a list of conduct issues from Gardner III included the following:

  • Threatening to shoot a university contractor
  • Threatening to shoot a university tenant
  • Directing threats and defamatory statements against President Downs, Kim Downs, and several university employees.
  • Making baseless threats of litigation against the university and its officers
  • ‘Engaging in a relentless campaign of lies and innuendo designed to unfairly attack, threaten, defame and undermine the university, President Downs, fellow trustees, and others who work tirelessly to serve students and the university’s Christian Mission.’
  • Generally engaging in a course of conduct undermining the university and its mission

The board elaborated that the university community should prepare for the potential continuation of malicious behavior against the school, president, board members, and anyone else who Gardner III decides to target.

“All faculty and staff should ignore this disgraceful behavior and continue to devote 100% of their time and energy to the University’s students and the advancement of its Mission under the leadership of President Downs,” the statement read.

Officials said social media is outside of university control, and that it is impossible to gather and refute every attack.

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In closing, the statement said the following:

“We wish to make one thing absolutely clear: The University will continue to celebrate the legacy of former North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner I (1882-1947) and Faye (Webb) Gardner (1885-1969).

This University continues to take great pride in the fact it is named after these fine individuals who gave so much of their time, talent, and treasure on behalf of the University during their lifetimes.

QCN reached out to Gardner-Webb for more information regarding the incident, and a spokesperson said ‘we have no further details to offer at this time.’

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