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Eric Gardner

Eric Gardner

Senior engineering director | Golf Channel | Class of 2003

If Don Matejowsky hadn’t been such an understanding boss, Eric Gardner (BA ’03, left) might not have gone from part-time Krannert Art Museum security guard to senior director of engineering at the Golf Channel.

“Don hooked me up with introductions to the museum curators and exposed me to Illinois’ art culture, which led to my first videography gig that ultimately landed me a part-time job running camera and teleprompter at WCIA,” Gardner says.

Most of Gardner's most memorable college moments happened "off the beaten path," as he puts it.

Like the UI Golf Courses in Savoy, where his dad leased an apartment during Gardner's high school years that backed up to Blue hole No. 5.

"Although we paid to play the course many a time, on occasion we snuck out at sunset and practiced on holes 5 and 4 until sunset. Golfing with my father created so many marvelous memories for me, and just this year my family, father, and uncle followed (former Illini) Thomas Pieters around Bay Hill during the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We were elated when Pieters’ caddy handed my son a ball in passing."

And, of course, there's Allerton Park, where "later in life, I found myself on a second date with a beautiful redhead and my future wife, who also happened to be an alumni of the University of Illinois," he says. "Doing my best to impress, we rode a borrowed motorcycle around the park and went hiking through the ornate statue gardens and winding wooded trails.

"I must have made a decent impression, because we were married in 2003. We had our reception on the top floor of the Illinois Terminal overlooking the U of I campus."