A conference room filled to the brim Tuesday as current and former staff and students gathered to remember former Cal State Fullerton President Milton Gordon. His wife, Margaret Gordon, and their three children were in attendance.
He served as CSUF’s president for over two decades, from 1990 to 2011. Milton Gordon passed away April 18, 2017, at the age of 81.
“We used to climb the same set of stairs,” said former CSUF lecturer Gayle Vogt-Schilling. “He walked to his office every morning. Nine floors.”
Vogt-Schilling worked closely with Milton Gordon during her time as a business and economics lecturer, and a member of the academic senate.
Five speakers, including current CSUF President Mildred García, took the podium to share more personal stories and memories of Milton Gordon. CSUF Vice President of Information Technology Amir Dabirian emceed the service.
While the stories of Milton Gordon varied from speaker to speaker, a common theme emerged. All of the speakers, from the CSU Board of Trustee Representative Silas Abrego to former California Senator Dick Ackerman, spoke of Milton Gordon’s dedication to students and education.
Two tables were set up in the Titan Student Union Portola Pavilion with photos of Milton Gordon, one showing him sitting on an elephant, and a space for guests to write in their memories of him.
The podium at the front of the room had two large screens on each side where a slideshow played throughout the service.
“He understood that if it wasn’t for the students … All we would have is bricks and people,” said Gerald L. Bryant, who was one of Milton Gordon’s many former colleagues in attendance.
Bryant, director of the McNair Scholars Program during Milton Gordon’s tenure as president, remembers him for his devotion to CSUF students.
“He was all about the students’ success,” Bryant said. “Once the students knew that he cared about what they were doing, why they were doing it, it made a world of difference.”
Longtime staff member and former student Jill Rodriguez also praised Milton Gordon for his accessibility to students.
“Dr. Gordon was president a lot of the time I worked here,” Rodriguez said. “He always used to walk around campus and he would greet students and staff, and he knew so many people.”
Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Nicole Bailey, who worked at the alumni association during her graduate program, said she remembered Milton Gordon for his warm demeanor.
“I was a student here during Dr. Gordon’s time,” Bailey said. “It always really impressed me and touched me that he remembered my name.”
CSUF alumna Erin McNally ended the service by performing an original song in memory of Milton Gordon. The song, specifically written for the former president, was first performed by McNally at his retirement gala in 2011.
“He contributed so much to the campus,” Rodriguez said. “So much of what the campus is today is due to his long-term time here.”