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Andy Haines

Class of 1986

In a lifetime of living abroad and traveling the world (63 countries and counting), Andy Haines ’86 is always thrilled to return to the place he thinks of as home: Eckerd College.

Starting at age 2, Andy grew up in Pakistan, where his parents were Presbyterian missionaries. His family moved stateside when he was in eighth grade, but he found himself baffled by references to recent pop culture or American sports. He never quite felt like he fit in until one cold day in February, when he escaped the snow of Connecticut for a college visit in St. Petersburg.

“I flew down and had the best experience of any of the colleges that I visited,” he said.

Andy’s four years at Eckerd flew by in similar fashion. He graduated with a political science degree after four years highly involved in the social life of Eckerd, culminating in a term as ECOS president.

Closeup of man in sunglasses with the leaning tower of Pisa in background

Andy posing with friends during his days as an Eckerd student

Life after Eckerd took a winding path—a few years working as an aide to a congressman in D.C.; a role in the Career Center at Eckerd; three years abroad in Africa working as a teacher; entrepreneurship in the forestry space; a highly successful corporate career with Time Warner Cable. Through it all, Andy credits a liberal arts education with allowing him to thrive in many situations where he had no previous experience or formal training.

“One of the reasons why I support Eckerd to this day is because I’m a big believer in a liberal arts education to create well-rounded individuals with critical thinking,” he says.

After graduating from Eckerd, Andy grew disillusioned with politics and decided he wanted to make a difference in a more hands-on way. Hoping to combine an interest in biology with a desire to learn more about the developing world, he departed the U.S. to teach in Ethiopia.

He spent three years there teaching English at the only girls’ school in the country. While there, he developed a nonprofit focused on reforestation of indigenous tree species. The nonprofit developed a program that would work with schools and schoolchildren to collect seeds of native trees decimated by deforestation, replant them on school grounds and sell saplings to local farmers. The program was folded into the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, and similar programs exist to this day.

“It’s one thing to have a scientist go look for a tree seed … we wanted to do this everywhere,” Andy recalls. “What better people to do that than young students who have the time and energy?”

While in Ethiopia, he also used an interest in tech to help computerize the schools, foreshadowing a career in the tech space. He started supervising a customer support center for MSN, and then moved to an early internet startup, Road Runner. Road Runner provided high-speed internet directly to consumers, and he saw the company grow from around 1,000 customers to over 5 million.

“We worked hard, we played hard, we didn’t wear business suits,” Andy says. “It was open-door policy from the president on down—all those types of things that are now considered almost a norm in the business.”

Andy was involved in many of the aspects of a rapidly growing business that were not the provenance of the engineers who started the company: training, customer service, and coordination.

Andy on top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

“It really allowed me to shine,” Andy says. “I really feel like having that liberal arts background made me successful in that job without being able to specifically pinpoint one skill that contributed to my success.” 

Tree hugging in the Australian rainforest

Eventually, Time Warner acquired RoadRunner, and Andy rose up the ranks there to become corporate vice president of customer care. He directly managed 5,000 agents in 15 call centers and nine countries and a $100M budget, and was indirectly responsible for coordinating another 10,000 agents across the U.S.

In 2011, he left the corporate world and now dabbles in landscaping and real estate. He has kept up an interest in world travel throughout his life and especially after his retirement from Time Warner. He has visited 63 countries and is planning his next trip to Gabon, a coastal country in central Africa.

Although many at Eckerd think of him as the embodiment of an Eckerd global education, Andy is quick to point out that while in school, he was never able to study abroad due to finances. As a result, he has included Eckerd in his will to establish a study abroad scholarship specifically for an ECOS student.

“I didn’t have the money at the time because I was so involved in ECOS and my family didn’t have a ton of resources,” he says. “With the Kadel Society, I get to provide a scholarship solution for someone that can be a leader and take advantage of study abroad.”

Andy’s Eckerd journey continues to this day as he relives his time at Eckerd (and makes new memories and friends) during Reunion Weekend each year. In the nearly 40 years since graduating, he has only missed three alumni reunions that took place during years when he was living abroad in Ethiopia.

“I’ve got a whole slew of new alumni friends and colleagues—people I’ve met and admired that I never went to college with,” he says. “Don’t think of coming back to reunion as just to reminisce with the people you knew at college because there are a ton of other fascinating alumni out there.”

Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy

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