By the time Kem Gardner stood up to speak at the Dean’s Convocation in October, Dean Douglas D. Andersonhad already told them a great deal about Gardner’s accomplishments.
They already knew that Gardner was president and co-founder of the Boyer Company L.C., developer of The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City in 2001. The $375 million mixed-use development was the largest redevelopment project in the history of Utah. The firm has developed more than 20 million square feet of real estate projects in the Intermountain West and other areas of the United States. It also manages 14 million square feet of commercial space.
Gardner, who said he likes to think of himself as a "community builder," is now chair of Gardner Properties L.C., where he placed his assets in 2004.
It didn’t take long for the students to realize that even though he has been very successful, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And, just in case they didn’t get that point, he launched into some cowboy poetry he’d memorized, delighting his audience.
Gardner talked with the students about the satisfaction he gets from developing a blighted area into something that creates value for the community.
"We buy a piece of property because we think we can do something that will make a difference in the community," he said.
He told the students he doesn’t have to work now, but his work ethic and desire to contribute to worthy causes keeps him active in various projects.
"We give scholarship money because we believe strongly in education, and we give money to United Way because a community is judged by the way it takes care of the less fortunate," he said.
Gardner has served on the Executive Committee of the United Way of Salt Lake since 1998, including two terms as chair. He was named "CompassionateLeader of the Year" in 2004 by the United Way of Salt Lake for his philanthropic efforts.
Gardner received his Bachelor of Arts in 1967 and a Juris Doctorate in 1970 from the University of Utah.