Friends, family and colleagues gathered Tuesday morning to honor and say goodbye to the late Milton A. Gordon, who was a transformative force during his tenure as Cal State Fullerton’s president.
The funeral service, held at St. Juliana Falconieri Church, was followed by a burial at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. Gordon was 81 when he died.
Gordon was president of CSUF from 1990 until his retirement in 2012. During that time, he oversaw the university’s enrollment grow from from 25,700 students to more than 36,000 and the addition of 13 academic degree programs, including one of the first doctorate in education programs in the Cal State system.
By the time of his retirement, enrollment of students of color jumped to 57 percent and CSUF had become one of the leading universities in the nation for graduating Latino students.
Many members of the CSUF community were in attendance, including current President Mildred Garcia.
“The impact of Dr. Gordon’s leadership is now and will forever be felt at this university and in the lives and family legacies of the approximately 122,000 Titans—more than half of the university’s total alumni—who graduated during his 22-year tenure as president,” García said in a letter to the campus.
The service began shortly after 10 a.m. as guests were greeted with a morning prayer and angelic church music.
Those who spoke mentioned Gordon’s friendly and caring demeanor, his love of Indian food and enjoyment of CSUF baseball.
University Police Chaplain Paul Miller delivered the eulogy and reminisced on his memories of Gordon and his impact on CSUF.
“How do we say goodbye to this gentle man, who was and always will be one of my heroes?” Miller said.
Toward the middle of his tenure, Gordon saw success with his administration’s timely response to complaints of not enough course material available to students with visual disabilities.
Miller was previously the director of Disability Support Services and worked with Gordon on this issue, which he said was treated as a priority.
The plan that Gordon and Miller set in place became a national model for delivering these kinds of instructional material timely, so much so that Gordon was “criticized for raising the bar a bit too high,” Miller said.
Miller remembers Gordon taking the criticism as a compliment.
“He said to me smiling, ‘You can accuse me of raising the bar too high any day,'” Miller said.
Another memory Miller shared was of former CSUF student and basketball player Rodney Anderson, who was shot by gang members and paralyzed from the waist down during a trip to Central Los Angeles in 2000.
After learning of this incident, Gordon made sure Anderson had every opportunity to succeed and that his injury would not be a hinderance, Miller said. Anderson went on to finish his master’s degree.
The service concluded with more prayer and singing. Gordon is survived by wife Margaret Gordon, sons Patrick, Michael and Vincent, sister Dolores Gordon, and grandchildren Nathan, Chesney and Rabiah.
“I will be forever grateful that our patches crossed and our lives intertwined if only for a short 27 years. Thank you, Milt,” Miller said.