Dr. Gardner was raised in the intermountain west, outside Spokane, Washington, and attended Whitman College, majoring in Chemistry with a strong interest in History and Literature. Before attending graduate school, Dr. Gardner served in the army in Southeast Asia and Japan. In graduate school, his studies focused on developmental and resource economics, organizational development and public policy. Dr. Gardner served for 18 months with Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Reform Office. After six years on the faculty at the University of California, Riverside (Graduate School of Administration and Crop and Soil Science), he returned to Michigan State University to lead the research efforts for the Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

His research interests include:

  1. Transition from college to work and early workplace socialization.
  2. Student engagement, learning and competency development.
  3. Labor market dynamics for college educated employees, especially early career development.
  4. Impact of the first and second year of college on commitment to learning.

Among his teaching assignments, he has worked with sophomores in a seminar on career and academic decision-making; often referred to as “Why Am I here!”.

In addition to membership in various professional organizations, he served as senior editor for The Journal of Cooperative Education and Internships.

He is involved with his local community, having recently completed 12 years on the Haslett School Board.