ASU emeritus professor, sociologist Leonard Gordon passes

March 10, 2015

ASU professor emeritus Leonard (Len) Gordon, a founding member and former dean of the Emeritus College at Arizona State University, passed away March 4. He was 79.

A vital member of the emeritus community, elected senator to the University Academic Senate Executive Committee and chair of the student faculty policy committee for 2014-2015, Gordon first joined the university in 1967. He taught and did research with ASU’s Department of Sociology, now part of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, and received grants from the National Science Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and other funding sources. Leonard Gordon, ASU sociologist Download Full Image

Gordon published articles and books primarily in the area of collective behavior and social movements. He penned two books, "Sociology and American Social Issues" and "A City in Racial Crisis: Detroit Pre and Post the 1967 Riot," in addition to published articles in professional journals and the Encyclopedia of Sociology.

Following his nine years as chair of sociology, Gordon then served as the associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for 11 years, followed by six years as the dean of the Emeritus College, where he worked to advance the college’s programs “as a benefit to the many talents of our emeritus faculty and to the university community.”

An avid educator and as dean of the Emeritus College, Gordon continued to teach courses, ranging from an examination of collective behavior and mass media and keys to healthy aging and the changing dynamics of our growing older population, to national and international perspectives through the lens of sport and politics. He contributed to the 2013 Project Humanities “Humor…Seriously” series, exploring human humor and the link between witty silliness and sociology.

Most recently, Gordon took his interest in social behavior, sports and politics to the community through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where he taught a continuing education course that examined sports as a vehicle for social cohesion.

Gordon earned history degrees at University of Michigan and Wayne State University, where he also completed his doctorate in sociology.

“Len was a wonderful colleague and friend and will be deeply missed," said Elmer Gooding, dean of the Emeritus College. "He was unselfishly willing to help others and to serve in whatever capacity he was needed. His positive impact on ASU was felt wherever he served – whether it was in the former Sociology Department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University Senate or the Emeritus College. ASU is clearly a better place because Len spent over four decades of his career here."

Outside of university and community work, Gordon was a sports enthusiast. He played competitive softball and was a fan of the Detroit Tigers and the University of Michigan Wolverines. He also wrote a memoir of his life with his wife, Rena, upon her passing, as part of the Virginia G. Piper creative writing program. He also established the Len and Rena Gordon “Spunky” Award, which is presented each academic school year to a student who has shown “spunk” in overcoming obstacles to succeed as an undergraduate. He is survived by his wife, Dorthy.

A colleague once wrote that the Emeritus College owes its inception and follow-through to a number of people, “but certainly at the top of that list is Len Gordon. He is public image, negotiator, wise old professor, and he never asks something he is not willing to do.”

A memorial service for Gordon took place March 8, and a special issue of the Emeritus College Newsletter will be devoted to Gordon later this year. Memorial donations are being given to the Len and Rena Gordon "Spunky" Award fund:

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost


ASU president appointed to committee on digital design

March 10, 2015

As digital technology increasingly touches nearly every aspect of human life, a national committee of academic leaders is working to enhance the emerging digital environment wherein scholarly research, teaching and learning can thrive.

With a goal to transform higher education, the Committee on Coherence at Scale has appointed Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow to help lead the development and management of this emerging digital ecosystem. ASU President Michael M. Crow Download Full Image

Crow, who is one of three new committee members, was selected for his innovation, strategic vision and leadership in higher education, according to a statement made by Chuck Henry, president of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

“I look forward to many productive years ahead guided by their experience and vision,” Henry said.

As both higher education and digital technology continue to evolve and inform one another, opportunities and pressures to improve coordination of and access to scholarly resources grow more acute.

Together with Vanderbilt University, the Council on Library and Information Resources created the Committee on Coherence at Scale in 2012 to examine emerging national-scale digital projects and their ability to help higher education institutions be more efficient, productive, cooperative and sustainable.

Comprised of leaders in higher education, the committee aims to encourage academic leaders to see their institutions as part of a larger digital ecology, and to connect and coordinate existing large-scale projects so they can integrate all facets of the knowledge cycle.

Crow will be part of the committee’s initial development of a series of business models for operating analog repositories more coherently and efficiently at scale. The results will be made public late this summer.

As Arizona State University’s 16th president, Crow has established more than 12 new transdisciplinary schools and large-scale research initiatives, including the Biodesign Institute, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and other significant initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library