leaves undergraduate legacy
William C. Gordons first inkling that he could make
a greater difference in higher education through administration
rather than the classroom came when he was appointed chair of
the Psychology Department in 1990. Since then, he climbed to
the top of the ladder rung by rung. He exits UNM to take the
provosts position at Wake Forest University and leaves
behind a legacy.
career at UNM was spent in the classroom and the lab, the other
half in administration. After serving as chair, he went on to
serve for four years as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences,
followed by two years as provost before taking the helm of the
institution in 1998.
he says, have the opportunity to improve scholastic quality
on a large scale and foster career opportunities for others.
I knew that I could contribute more to psychology by promoting
teaching and scholarship across the department than I could
making my own individual contributions, he says.
he was chief academic officer. I could support research
activities on campus, enhance faculty teaching in the classroom
and influence decisions about curriculum, he says.
on that role at Wake Forest, he says, appeals to him because
he will once again focus on the academic life of an institution.
The position appeals in another way, as well. Ive
missed being able to conduct my own research and being able
to teach. Although I wont be back in the classroom right
away at Wake Forest, eventually I will.
As an administrator,
and particularly as president, Gordon has dealt with countless
crises and difficult situations. Perhaps special insight as
a psychologist allows him to be patient and not act precipitously.
had to make decisions based on my own values and those of the
university community. It was always important to take into account
the long term best interests of the institution, he says.
When crisis or controversy occurred, he says, the tendency is
to react emotionally and to try to bring the situation to quick
conclusion. Situations require reflection, not haste.
Pressure may come from all sides, and everyone has different
expectations. It is much better to make a decision after careful
reflection and receiving input, he says.
in undergraduate education stand out as a major accomplishment
of the Gordon presidency. Weve all learned that
if were willing to change our approach, students coming
here have a greater chance of succeeding, he says. The
change is not just about setting new programs or looking at
new ways to do things. It requires changing the culture
on the campus, he says.
increasing public responsibility to help the state meet its
most pressing challenges, says Gordon. Weve taken
an active role to bolster economic growth, provide quality health
care and foster lifelong learning. We are working collaboratively
with K-12 education and the states two and four year institutions.
UNM is more visible and recognized as a major resource,
he says, is that UNM has experienced a 40 percent increase in
donor support in the past two years and can anticipate another
increase this year. Legislative support has been strong, as
has stated often and publicly that the strength of the university
is in its people. The foundation of any success we have
is based on the exceptional people on the campus. As president,
I always felt it was my responsibility to create an environment
that supports the human potential, he says.
is pleased with the relationships he has had with Faculty Senate,
Staff Council and student groups. Universities are places
of ideas. The campus climate must support a range of opinions.
Every member of the community must feel safe, comfortable and
respected by others. They must feel that they are still highly
regarded as people even if their ideas are criticized,
a full range of ideas, Gordon says, the campus community needs
to be diverse. We cant all think alike. We need
a broad range of people and perspectives, he says.
Lobo supporter, Gordon is proud of the progress made in athletic
programs. Im a fan of intercollegiate athletics,
but as president there is so much to deal with NCAA compliance
and the integrity of the programs it makes it hard to
be a fan in the traditional sense, he says although he
admits to having a soft spot for womens basketball. It
is a tremendous success story, Gordon says.
So is Gordon.