FSU alumnus Charlie Crist sworn in as Florida Governor

Florida State University alumnus Charlie Crist was sworn in as Florida's 44th governor Jan. 2, 2007, pledging to make Florida's education the gold standard.

Crist, 50, who earned a bachelor's degree in government in 1978, is the second FSU graduate to serve as governor. Reubin O'Donovan Askew, who served as governor from 1971 to 1979, earned his bachelor's degree in public administration from Florida State in 1951.

Although Crist is not the first governor to hail from FSU, he and fellow FSU alumnus Jeff Kottkamp are making history as the first pair of alumni to hold the state's top two offices. Kottkamp, who earned his degree in political science in 1984, took the oath of office as lieutenant governor.

"Today, we congratulate Gov. Crist and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp for their achievement in reaching the state's highest elected offices," said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. "Naturally, we at Florida State are extremely proud of our distinguished alumni. It's an exciting day for all of us, and the beginning of a new era. This state and all its citizens can look forward to good things from them, and FSU stands ready to assist toward that end."

In his inaugural address, Crist focused on the need for education to fuel the state's economic engine.

"Florida has the nation's best and brightest," he said today in his inaugural address before the state's Old Capitol Building. "Our workers are skilled and they are trained. Our colleges and universities are national leaders. We are poised to be an economic engine like no other. But Florida cannot be an economic leader unless every child receives a world-class education … The global economy is at our doorstep. Our children don't need to look forward to better opportunities. We need to give them every opportunity."

Crist had served as attorney general until his swearing-in this morning. He was elected to that position in 2002, two years after he was elected commissioner of education. He had previously served as deputy secretary of the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Crist has said that he learned the importance of public service from an early age. His parents and three sisters attended today's ceremonies.

Crist's leadership qualities were evident even as a student at FSU where he served as student body vice president. Popular among students, he was involved in fraternity activities and was elected by his fellow students as the 1977 Homecoming Chief.

After earning a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., Crist served as general counsel for the minor league division of the Baseball Commissioner's Office. He began his government service as state director for U.S. Sen. Connie Mack before later returning to the private practice of law with the Tampa firm of Wood and Crist.

In 1992, he was elected to the Florida Senate, where he served as chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and as chairman of the Appropriations Criminal Justice Subcommittee. He served as state senator for six years before Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

After graduating from FSU, Kottkamp, 46, earned a law degree from the University of Florida and practiced law in his hometown of Cape Coral. In 2000 he ran for state representative of Florida's 74th district and won a resounding victory.

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, also an FSU alumnus, served as the master of ceremonies for the swearing-in ceremony.

To view the video archive of the inauguration, please click here. (RealPlayer required)