Messiah University announces Christine J. Gardner, Ph.D., as its next provost

Messiah University announces Christine J. Gardner, Ph.D., as its next provost

Messiah University announced publicly today that Christine J. Gardner, Ph.D., dean of the School of Graduate, Professional and Extended Studies at Gordon College, will serve as Messiah’s provost, beginning Aug. 1.

Headshot of Dr. Christine Gardner.

“After a rigorous, extensive national search, I am delighted that Dr. Gardner has accepted Messiah University’s invitation to serve as our next provost,” said President Kim S. Phipps, Ph.D. “She brings valuable experience as a faculty member, researcher and administrator at a diverse mix of respected faith-based and nationally recognized educational institutions. I look forward to the innovation, leadership and collaboration that she will provide in her role as Messiah’s chief educational officer. Her nationally recognized scholarship and her vision for Christian higher education’s unique ability to shape students’ lives and vocation make her an ideal fit for the Messiah community.”  

“We’re delighted that Dr. Gardner will serve as provost of Messiah University,” said Craig Sider, D.Min., chair of Messiah’s board of trustees. “She brings rich experience and a deep commitment to advance Messiah’s distinctive Christian educational mission.”

About Christine J. Gardner, Ph.D.

Gardner comes to Messiah from her current role as dean of the School of Graduate, Professional and Extended Studies, and as chair of the Department of Communication Arts, Theatre and Art at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. Her academic leadership focuses on curricular innovation, program assessment, faculty development and change management. She leads the college’s program innovation for graduate and precollegiate students, directing the development of new programs in business, public health and international education leadership. She also leads the college’s work in global education, dual enrollment and summer term. As head of the undergraduate core committee, Gardner led the campus through a core curriculum revision to incorporate the college’s commitment to shalom and reconciliation.

Gardner earned her doctorate in communication studies from Northwestern University and holds a master’s degree in communications from the University of Washington. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history as a member of the general honors program at Seattle Pacific University. She spent three years as a guest associate professor for the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. Her early career included an associate professorship with tenure at Wheaton College and a visiting assistant professorship at Willamette University.

Gardner is an award-winning scholar and teacher. She received the Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award from the National Communication Association, the Dissertation of the Year Award from the Religious Communication Association, and the Junior Faculty Teaching Award from Wheaton College. Her research focuses on the intersection of rhetoric and cultural sociology, exploring the role of religious rhetoric in the public sphere, narratives of identity and belonging, and the cultivation of empathy in civil dialogue.

Gardner expressed her interest in serving as Messiah University’s provost by saying,

“I am animated by the mission of Christian higher education and I have profound respect for the ways in which Messiah is staying true to its mission ‘to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.’ This mission statement reflects the head, heart and hands commitment of Christian higher education as we educate the whole person with the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to grow closer to our Creator God and reflect the Imago Dei in creative acts of service and vocational calling. 

In these challenging times, our world is waiting for graduates who will engage the culture with wisdom, compassion and grace… This is the task of Christian higher education: to change the world by becoming transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is the work of Messiah University, and it is this work that motivates me as an academic leader. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve at Messiah University and join such a distinguished and dedicated community of educators in this important work.”

Gardner succeeds Provost Randall G. Basinger, Ph.D., who retired in May 2022, after 39 years of educational and administrative service to Messiah University.

About Messiah University

Founded in 1909 and located near Harrisburg, Pa., Messiah University is a nationally ranked, private Christian university of the liberal and applied arts and sciences that enrolls 3,320 undergraduate and graduate students.