St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is heading back to college this week.
The 1999 Carson-Newman University graduate will deliver the winter commencement address at his alma mater on Friday, where his mother — Mary Tibbets Brandes — will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Brandes’ mother is a 1971 graduate of the private Baptist school. She would later become the first teacher hired at Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg, eventually becoming the head of the school.
“The Brandes family has a long association with our university and the Carson-Newman family is proud to claim them as our own,” University President J. Randall O’Brien stated in a release on the school’s website.
The school notes that Sen. Brandes has “earned a reputation for innovative approaches in education, job creation and transportation matters.”
Brandes is the senator who for years pushed for statewide app-based ride-sharing rules and continues to call for laws that would open the roads to driver-less vehicles.
The state lawmaker, who received the school’s “Outstanding Young Alumnus Award” in 2015, graduated with a bachelor of science in business administration from the Jefferson City, Tennessee school that also produced Millard Caldwell, Florida’s 29th governor, and University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes. Stokes served as Florida State University’s interim president prior to the 2014 appointment of John Thrasher.
— By Jim Turner.