Staff Spotlight: Rita Gordon
Formerly a stockbroker, Rita Gordon desired a change and has made a career in Higher Education for 18 years. She currently is the Director of Administrative Services at the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.
“What keeps me here is that it’s [Higher Education] never the same, it's always interesting."
Formerly a stockbroker, Rita Gordon desired a change and has made a career in public Higher Education for 18 years. She currently is the Director of Administrative Services at the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. Throughout much of her career, Gordon has become an expert on how to manage scarce resources.
“My role is to treat those precious dollars that are invested in the college as efficiently as possible in order for it to have the maximum impact for our students.”
The ability to determine how to do more with less (and in an “A-Maizeing” way) dovetails with one of Gordon’s other passions about her job, which includes the opportunity to work on the strategic plan for the college with the Dean. She loves “big picture ideas and things that can be taken from concept to implementation.”
Education in Her Life
The importance of education is not a foreign concept to Gordon. In fact, she vividly remembers her parents attending college while her and her brother were very small; she was in kindergarten and her brother was three. Her mom pursued a bachelors in nursing, and her dad a chemistry and pharmacy degree.
“That was so inspiring to me…they graduated on time, in two very challenging fields of study while raising two small children,” she said. “Education in general was an important value for my parents and grandparents and they really supported us in whatever field we chose.”
Complete with a history of family steeped in education, Gordon married into a family with strong educational values as well. Her father-in-law is an alum of UM-Dearborn, and her husband attended UM-Dearborn before completing his degree at Lake Superior State University, where they met. This love for school compelled Gordon to complete her PhD at Western Michigan University.
Recently, education took Gordon on a memorable adventure, as she traveled to France with faculty and students for a study abroad trip in March 2018.
“It was transforming for me, to see the learning as it occurred with the students and how the faculty were able to ignite -new interests [the students] with information,” Gordon said smiling.
The students gladly took Gordon along with them during trips to the café, and helped her practice ordering common cuisine in French. The trip was Gordon’s first time in Europe, and in an effort to keep the memory fresh, she keeps a picture of herself at the Eiffel Tower on her desk.
Gordon’s hobbies neatly fall into three categories: old, new, and continuous. Older, longtime hobbies of Gordon’s include fly fishing and yoga, which she has practiced for 10 years. She recently caved into her creative side and engages in mixed media art journaling, and Gordon continues her efforts to learn French.
“I try to practice French every day on my dogs, since they aren’t critical of my pronunciations,” she said with a laugh.
As for travel, Gordon aims to visit Ireland and Hungary (since she has roots there), and Vietnam.
Until the time comes to visit other parts of the world, Gordon remains content in a world that has been so good to her- higher education.
“I feel so fortunate to work in higher education,” she said. “It’s a really caring environment and a community that feels supportive and nurturing.”
Written by Leah Olajide