Advocating for Social Equity on Campus

Howard Gordon and President Deborah F. Stanley

Sitting on a bench inscribed in his honor, Howard Gordon ‘74 M’78 and College President Deborah F. Stanley posed for a commemorative photo during the Aug. 30 reception honoring Howard’s 42 years of service at SUNY Oswego.

On Aug. 30, 2018, Howard Gordon ’74 M’78, who most recently served as SUNY Oswego’s executive assistant to the president and special assistant for social equity, retired from the college after 42 years of service. Throughout that time, he held many titles—counselor in the Office of Special Programs, assistant dean for arts and sciences, assistant provost for academic affairs and social equity; but his longest and most cherished position was his most recent as executive assistant to President Deborah F. Stanley for the past 20 years.

During a retirement celebration including hundreds of current and former colleagues, alumni and current students, President Stanley presented him with the college’s highest honor—the Presidential Medal—and dedicated a bench in his honor. The bench is outside the Marano Campus Center in the heart of campus to signify the central role Howard had in the lives of thousands of campus members.

President Stanley shared her sentiments about Howard’s contributions to the campus during the ceremony and in a written statement to the campus community:

Chris West, Howard Gordon and Deborah White West The college community also came together to create a memory book that includes photos and messages from 150 or so faculty, staff, students and alumni whose lives were somehow affected by Howard. One of those messages came in the form of a poem by Deborah White West ’91, who traveled from Maryland with her husband, Chris West ’91, to be part of the campus celebration (at right).

“Just knowing that you had a Howard Gordon who provided that level of support, made it possible for many of us to continue the task of sometimes being the first in our family to acquire a college degree. Not sure if that would’ve been possible without the unwavering support of Howard Gordon,” Deborah said.

A recipient of the Oswego Alumni Association’s Lifetime Award of Merit in 2016, Howard is a co-founder of the Return to Oz reunion for alumni of color and the college’s African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Student Leadership Conference.

Photo board

This photoboard was displayed in Howard’s office for decades.

“Oswego has been my second home,” Howard said during his retirement celebration. “Basically, I was a student here and became an adult at this place, met my wife here, and became a father early in life … It’s been such a ride. It’s been so unbelievable. It will be very difficult for me to try to articulate how rich my work-life has been … My reason for being is because of these relationships. I thank you.”

“Howard has consistently served as a role model, mentor and voice for students and colleagues across the entire campus, bringing his unwavering commitment to equity and social justice to bear in all his spheres of influence. With his insightful analysis and unblinking honesty coupled with respect and compassion, and dedicating enormous amounts of time and energy over and above his ‘day job,’ Howard has moved us forward as an inclusive and connected community…Those of us who have been fortunate enough to be in his life at SUNY Oswego know that his heart and his humor infuse our work with laughter and love. Howard has been a powerful force in my professional life and will always be my deeply treasured friend.”

By the Numbers

Since his arrival on the SUNY Oswego campus, the college has awarded a total of 86,112undergraduate and graduate degrees—combined with the thousands of faculty and staff members who have worked here during his tenure—Howard has influenced nearly 100,000campus community members’ lives.

Since the mid-1980s when the college started to track race/ethnicities, SUNY Oswego has graduated approximately 3,448 students of color—or a total of approximately 6% of the total student body. Today, 29% of our total student body and 35% of our incoming class identify as culturally diverse.

Fun Fact: With Oswego averaging 137 inches of snow a year, Howard has lived through 48 winters here or 6,576 inches of snow (548 feet of snow!).

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