BOWLING GREEN — The Ohio senator from Bowling Green known for his reliability and dedication has been appointed to oversee the state’s public colleges and universities.
“I’m going to have the opportunity to continue public service but in a different way. I owe the people of Wood County so much and I hope to continue to make a difference,” said Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green.
Ohio Gov.-elect Mike DeWine has appointed the veteran lawmaker to his cabinet to serve at the next chancellor of the Ohio Department of Education.
Gardner will oversee the state’s public two-year and four-year institutions and Ohio Technical Centers, and, with the advice of the nine-member Board of Regents, provide policy guidance to the governor and the Ohio General Assembly.
He has been recognized as the General Assembly’s foremost policy leader on higher education, serving the past eight years as the chairman of the Higher Education Subcommittee, holding the post in both chambers.
Gardner said that he and DeWine share a mutual interest in higher education, however he could not talk about policies until he starts the chancellor’s job on Monday.
He does have specific interests in workforce training development.
“Preparing people of all ages for the workforce and careers are one of the most important things we need to do in Ohio,” Gardner said.
He spent five years as a teacher with Otsego Local Schools and that experience “helps in almost everything I have done.
“What teaching does is give you a better understanding of learning and helping young people achieve their goals. That’s what higher education should be about.”
Gardner said that he will let his constituents choose his biggest accomplishments from the past three decades.
“What I’ve tried to do for the people of Wood County for 33 years, I’ve tried to work as hard as I can with as much energy as I can.”
He hopes in his new role he can do many new things and continue to work on issues that he worked on as a legislator.
Gardner is a 1977 graduate of Eastwood High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in political science from Bowling Green State University, where he involved with the President’s Leadership Academy, mentoring and helping connect students with meaningful internships.
“Randy Gardner has always been a tremendous advocate for higher education,” said BGSU President Rodney Rogers. “He has an intimate understanding of the challenges facing our colleges and universities. He also sees the role our public universities play in driving the economic, social and cultural vitality of our state. He’s an outstanding choice to lead Gov.-elect DeWine’s education initiatives as chancellor.”
He and wife Sandy have two sons and one daughter.
Just this week, Gardner was set to begin his 20th year of service to elected leadership positions in the General Assembly, more than any other Republican in Ohio history. On Monday, Gardner was sworn in as the Senate Majority Leader for another term in the Ohio Senate. Gardner was elected by a vote of 28 to 0.
During his tenure in the house and senate, Gardner has never missed a vote. Since 1985, he has amassed 10,423 consecutive roll call votes on bills, amendments and resolutions.
He was offered the new post Wednesday.
He has served as speaker pro tem of the Ohio House and president pro tem ofthe senate in addition to his current role as majority leader and has not missed a vote since taking office in 1985.
As a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, Gardner will advise the governor on higher education policy and implement the governor’s plan to make college more affordable for Ohioans and drive the state’s economic advancement through the public universities and colleges of Ohio, the state’s network of public universities, regional campuses, community colleges, and adult workforce and adult education centers.
DeWine also has announced nominations for the departments overseeing insurance, job and family services, transportation and aging and for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, among others. He had previously announced his picks for individuals to head the state prison system, the state budget office, the public safety department and other agencies.
DeWine, the Republican attorney general, is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 14 after winning the election in November. He succeeds fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich.
(Sentinel-Tribune Editor Debbie Rogers and the Associated Press contributed to this story.)