Since arriving on campus as a freshman in the fall of 1970, Howard Gordon ’74 M’78 has connected people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds. He is perhaps one of the most visible, most recognizable people on the SUNY Oswego campus, and has been for nearly 50 years.
A two-time alumnus of Oswego with a bachelor’s in history in 1974 and a master’s in English in 1978, Gordon has held many titles during his tenure at Oswego—student, counselor in the Office of Special Programs, assistant dean for arts and sciences, assistant provost for academic affairs and social equity and, for the past 20 years, executive assistant to the president and special assistant for social equity.
He has provided consistency in leadership for the campus and has been the voice for not only students and employees of color, but the entire campus community as well.
He is the co-founder of the ALANA Student Leadership Conference, which has brought the campus together for 30 years to celebrate the multicultural college environment. Gordon is also an accomplished author whose short story “After Dreaming of President Johnson” is included in the prestigious collection, Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers. He is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service and the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education 2012 Award for Distinguished Service.
In recognition of his professional accomplishments and service to the campus, the Oswego Alumni Association (OAA) recognized Gordon with the 2016 Lifetime Award of Merit. President Deborah F. Stanley and Betsy Oberst, OAA executive director and associate vice president of alumni relations and stewardship, presented the award to him on Sept. 24 at the 30th Annual ALANA Banquet in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom.
The OAA received 16 letters of support for his nomination to receive this award—more than any other award nomination in recent history. Letters came from alumni who represented more than four decades. Each outlined the important role Gordon played in their lives.
Tiphanie Gonzalez ’05 M’07, assistant professor of counseling and psychological services, said she feels fortunate to have benefited from Gordon’s guidance both as a student and as a faculty member.
“As a woman of color on campus, Howard has been part of my support system in a place where not a lot of people look like me,” Gonzalez said. “He is someone who is available even though he is always busy … that approachability and mentorship have been an important part of my growth here at SUNY Oswego.”
Michael K. Cox ’76 met Gordon during his first semester on campus and has remained connected to him for the past 44 years.
“He is a man of conviction and action,” Cox wrote in his letter of support. “He understands the simple truth that education changes lives, families and communities. I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive this award.”