Student success, transparency and collaborative problem-solving are among the priorities new SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon established during a Thursday morning address to the faculty and staff.
Gordon also shared insight on his background and leadership style during the speech in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center. Gordon, who will be SFA’s ninth president, discussed his childhood in Malone, New York, and the sacrifices his parents made, placing a value on higher education and giving back. “Grit, grace, and gratitude,” are three ideals Gordon said his father instilled in him, and he hopes to instill these in SFA students.
“I went into college— a first-generation college student— and I had no clue. I was lost. But it was faculty and staff like you who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. That’s happening on this campus every single day. We are all mentors,” he said.
Gordon said he is going to work tirelessly to learn everything he can about SFA. “I want to learn about you, what you’re doing to help our students, all those different areas where faculty do their work.
“Besides getting to know all the work that you’re doing is I want to have open sessions, open forums. Because I want to know what’s working, what isn’t working. What are some areas we need to begin exploring?”
He also gave insight on his guiding principles for decision-making. Gordon said he first thinks about how decisions affect students, faculty, staff and effectiveness of the teaching and learning environment. Another factor he said he considers is increased transparency.
“Over the course of my leadership, we will work to develop open and transparent and inclusive budget processes, where we get valuable input from faculty, staff, chairs and deans,” he said.
Gordon expressed he wants everyone to know what has been funded, what hasn’t been funded, and why. “I think it’s extremely important that everyone sees the same data. It needs to belong to all of us, not just the select few.
“There’s a lot that we need to do. There’s a lot that’s been going on, don’t get me wrong, but we need to be that model what I call, the new American university. SFA will be that shining star not just of Texas, but the United States.”
Gordon also recognized Interim President Dr. Steve Westbrook and the university’s former president, the late Dr. Baker Pattillo, who passed away in late December.
“I want to thank Steve Westbrook. Steve jumped in and led the institution during a very difficult time. I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Dr. Pattillo. He presided over SFA during a lot of growth. And I do recognize his leadership and I do recognize that the activities, the growth, the successes that we will achieve will rest on those that he established. I want to thank him for his leadership.”
Gordon described his own leadership style as passionate and “all in.”
“You will see my wife and I at all things SFA, at all events. I like to have fun. We do hard work, and you have to enjoy it and have fun doing it. I’ll be visible. You’ll see me everywhere. I’m very open to new ideas.”
Gordon ended his address by encouraging faculty and staff to engage with him. “Don’t be afraid to ask me questions. Don’t be afraid to give me ideas or thoughts or your perspective. I’m very open to those kinds of input.
“It’s exciting to be here. I can’t express adequately how thrilled I am to be able to serve you and lead this institution… Let’s have a good year. Axe ’em, Jacks.”