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Alum nominated FL Senate President-elect

Andy GardinerThere is a Stetson alumnus who is living the university’s mantra – nurturing one’s level of success as well as significance – to a whole new level.  Senator Andy Gardiner (R-FL) has been chosen by the Florida Senate GOP as their president-designate. 

“(The nomination) was a humbling experience,” said Gardiner.  “I began serving in the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 and to be chosen by my peers to lead the Florida Senate in my final two years is truly an honor.”

Gardiner graduated from Stetson in 1992 with bachelor degrees in political science and psychology. He met his wife, Camille, pictured, while they were at Stetson. They live in Orlando with their three young children: Andrew, Jr., Joanna and Kathryn.

“I began taking political science classes at Stetson for fun. I enjoyed the small class sizes which facilitated meaningful discussion between fellow students and faculty,” explained Gardiner. He credits Stetson with helping him develop skills to not only be successful but significant.  “I was president of my fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. The experience taught me strong leadership skills,” he added.

One professor in particular remembers the qualities that Gardiner possessed as a student that shaped him into the leader he is today.

“I was his adviser and he was a very thoughtful person, not assertive.  Often times, he would think about what he would say rather than saying it out loud. His intuitive approach was to bring people together and bring ideas together,” said T. Wayne Bailey, Ph.D., Stetson’s renowned political science professor. “At Stetson, Andy presented himself as someone interested in championing economic growth, which played a role in his rise to the Senate.”

Gardiner spent a semester of his senior year abroad in England that catapulted his desire toward politics. “John Major was serving as Prime Minister (at that time). I later became involved in the 1992 presidential campaign,” recalled Gardiner.

Gardiner went to work as executive director of the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce before beginning at Orlando Health as vice president of external affairs and community relations. His political career was officially launched in 2000 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives and subsequently re-elected through 2008. As his leadership and political skills grew, he showcased his ability to lead as House Majority Leader from 2004 through 2006.

In 2008, Gardiner was elected to the Florida State Senate. He served as the Senator Majority Whip for the first two years, followed by the position of Senate Majority Leader from 2010 through 2012. And the upcoming role as Senate President will be reality for the 45-year-old if Republicans maintain control of the Senate following the November 2014 election.

“Both at Stetson and in his work at the hospital, he has proven to be very capable at fostering positive relationships.  He is a team-oriented leader,” added Bailey. “Andy is a person regarded as very mature, very responsible, and is also one who really wants to give back to the community.  My memory was that he was one to outreach, even in a time of selfishness that was occurring in society. He felt that Stetson provided a strong base to his development.”

By Trish Wieland