The Missouri State University community is saddened to hear of the loss of Dr. Marshall Gordon, who passed away May 17 at the age of 81.
Gordon served as president of Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University) from 1983-92. Under his leadership, enrollment exceeded 20,000 for the first time, bringing an economic impact of more than $1 million a day to southwest Missouri.
“President Gordon had an aspirational vision for the university,” said current President Clif Smart. “He was the first president to seek a name change to Missouri State University. He challenged the university to stretch for higher levels of achievement.”
He set out to enhance the university’s reputation by growing its enrollment, attracting academically gifted students, expanding its facilities and beautifying its campus.
“Given the forces and the directions that are in place now, the only answer is more,” said Gordon in an early speech. “You can expect SMSU to do more tomorrow than it is doing today,” he declared.
Leaving his mark on campus
During Gordon’s tenure, an expanded scholarship program attracted more highly qualified students, leading to the re-establishment of the honors program.
Academic restructuring established six colleges housing 37 departments. The College of Business gained accreditation by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. A graduate program in defense and strategic studies was added to the curriculum and the first specialist degree was awarded in education.
An aggressive capital expansion program added several new facilities to campus, including:
- David D. Glass Hall
- Professional Building
- Kentwood Hall
- Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex
- Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
- Hammons House
- New Hall (now Hutchens House)
The university purchased Central High School in West Plains to accommodate the growth of that campus. The SMSU Foundation purchased the Centerre Bank Building in downtown Springfield to establish what is now the Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center.
During his tenure, athletics moved to the Missouri Valley Conference and both the Bears and Lady Bears competed in NCAA Division I post-season tournaments. The baseball Bears made their first appearance in the Division I tournament.
Memorial services and donations
Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m., May 24 at Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home.
According to the obituary, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
- Missouri State University Foundation, 300 South Jefferson Suite 100, Springfield, MO 65806.
- Ozarks Technical Community College Foundation, 1001 East Chestnut Expressway, Springfield, MO 65802
- Hospice Compassus, 1465 East Primrose, Springfield, MO 65804.
- The Murray State University Foundation for the Marshall and Anette Gordon Chemistry Research Fund, c/o Office of Development, 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, KY 42071.