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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Special Issue: July 29, 2002
The Gordon Presidency -
1998 - 2002

UNM's first lady praises ‘great people’

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

Kathy Gordon at University House. Photo by Brian Lucero.

Kathy Gordon’s mind is on packing boxes this July, but her heart is fixed on UNM. A three-time alumna departing a four-year view from the top, she speaks fondly of her years amongst the adobes.

But it’s not great places, programs or even presidential prestige that she will miss most – it’s great people.

“The nicest thing about having been first lady was the opportunity to interact with so many special people,” she says.

Gordon begins a tribute to a litany of “great” students, staff and faculty, but soon realizes there is no way to capture all who touched her family’s life.

“One of the fun things about being [at the presidential level] is that you get a chance to meet with people you wouldn’t otherwise, both on campus and in the community,” she says. “You can’t be part of this for four years and not have it change you. I came to appreciate how complicated the issues in higher education are and the many connections UNM has in the city, state and country. You get to see the scope.”

Although not at the helm, Gordon was in “close proximity,” she says, and in so, is wiser for the experience. Time in office taught the couple perspective and how not to get caught up in a moment – good or bad.

“You have to have faith in the principles and people that guide you. You learn that if you keep pushing forward things are going to be okay,” she says. “UNM has good problem solvers and when you are in a big place there are always problems to be solved.”

Two others in “close proximity” are Kate, 12, and Jonathan, 9. Not since President William E. Davis (1975-82), father of five-year-old twins at the time of his inauguration, has the first family included young children. Parenting while running a campus is often done in a fishbowl and Gordon admits it had its trade offs.

Avid sports fans all, the bunch hosted and frequented hundreds of special events, a fair share Lobo games. Jon frequently took a seat on the sidelines with chums former Governor Bruce King and Athletic Director Rudy Davalos.

“Fortunately, both kids are outgoing types who like to meet people. Not only was it not a problem for them, it was like, ‘Hey, when’s the next reception?’” Gordon says.

The recollection leads back to warm thoughts about the UNM staff who helped her to pull those gatherings off, typically without a hitch.

“It’s impossible to thank and say goodbye to everybody who does their part to make this place great,” she says. “And I’ll be back. I have to see the SUB when it’s done.”