Why I Give: Colin Gardner '88

Though Colin Gardner ’88 lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family, his ties to Shipley are as strong as ever. Gardner recognizes with great appreciation the lasting effects of his Shipley education, from the enduring relationships with school friends to the multiplicity of ways in which Shipley’s influence manifests itself in his career choices in television news and later, landscape architecture and urban design. As such, this alumnus makes it clear that Shipley factors large among the institutions that he supports each year.

Choosing Shipley

Gardner came to Shipley as a high school freshman. “I wanted to change schools after eighth grade. I recall deciding on Shipley because of its smaller size and the warmth that I saw between the teachers and the students. It really suited my learning style, so I was able to take advantage of what Shipley had to offer and make great relationships along the way.” Giving to Shipley is one way in which Gardner feels he stays connected with the extended Shipley community.

From Stage Fright to Television

One would think an individual with a career in television news would be a natural in front of large groups. That was not always the case for Gardner, at least until his mother convinced him to try out for Shipley’s musical Li’l Abner. “I was scared to death,” he admits with a laugh. “I had a fear of speaking in front of people, but I did the musical and I absolutely loved it. It gave me a good dose of confidence that I took with me throughout the rest of my life.” Gardner also participated in Mr. Brewer’s theater class, an experience Gardner considers one of his most memorable experiences at Shipley. “Mr. Brewer was energetic and very humorous. He was very serious about his craft, but he didn’t take himself too seriously,” says Gardner.

A Lifelong Love of Photography

Gardner always looked forward to going to Ms. Wagner’s art classes. “She created an atmosphere that allowed me to take risks and explore a new medium in which to express myself. She also encouraged an environment of open and honest discussion, and I always looked forward to that,” he says, laughing knowingly with the memory. “There is no other art program in high school that I’ve learned about that has rivaled Shipley’s,” says Gardner. For him, photography became a lifelong interest, leading Gardner to take classes in college and beyond. “Even if I’m not practicing photography all the time,” he says, “I always come back to it.”
Gardner’s interest in theater and studio art is all the more interesting given that Gardner had had no exposure to either before coming to Shipley. “Shipley allowed me to learn about myself and my interests and to explore things I hadn’t experienced before, which in turn helped me decide what I wanted to do later in life.” That courageous and curious spirit buoyed his success as a writer and producer of the news for Bloomberg, CNN, and CNBC, then allowed him to switch course and pursue a career in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

The Motivation to Give

When asked what motivates him to give to Shipley, Gardner is quite clear. “My years at Shipley were important and memorable,” he explains. “They were instrumental in my development. Shipley gave me a solid foundation for a really good work ethic, problem solving skills, and a life-long love of learning. I learned how to work independently and collaboratively, tools I use every day.”
Gardner is a member of Shipley’s Leadership Council, a small but especially generous group of annual donors, and that’s important to him. “I realize that many institutions, like Shipley, rely on contributions to be able to fulfill their missions.” When Gardner gives to Shipley, it is in deep appreciation of his shared past, an acknowledgment of the friendships and skills he’s carried with him, and an investment in the future of a school he grew to love.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.