SFA Regents Select Presidential Finalist; Montgomery County Residents Participate in Selection Process

By: Nelda Luce Blair
| Published 07/28/2019

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NACOGDOCHES, TX – In a unanimous vote by the nine-member Stephen F. Austin State
University Board of Regents, Dr. Scott Gordon, a first-generation college student who became
Provost of Eastern Washington University, was named as sole finalist for SFA President.  Two
of those votes were cast by business women from Montgomery County. Nelda Luce Blair, a
lawyer with The Blair Law Firm in The Woodlands, was appointed to the SFA Regents Board by
Governor Greg Abbott in 2015.  Blair serves on the Regents Executive Committee as Secretary,
and also participated in the search as part of the Presidential Screening Committee.  She will
chair the Presidential Transition Committee for Dr Gordon’s anticipated arrival. Earlier this year,
Governor Abbott also appointed Judy Larson Olson, a Conroe resident and Woodlands Market
President of Spirit of Texas Bank, to the SFA Regents Board.  One of Olson’s first
responsibilities was to vote on a new president for the university.  “This could be the single most
important task of my 6 year term on the Board of Regents,” noted Olson. “It is an incredible
honor just to serve on this Board, but to be a part of transforming the future of my college alma
mater is more than I could have imagined.”

A native of Malone, New York, Gordon received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the State
University of New York at Cortland. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate in botany and
mycology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and holds certifications from the
Harvard University Graduate School of Education in educational management and leadership.

As EWU provost, Gordon is the university’s chief academic officer, overseeing more than 500
faculty members in six academic colleges, with responsibility for academic policy and planning,
distance education, international programs and institutional research.

Gordon led a complete reorganization of EWU’s Academic Affairs unit, led the development and
implementation of the university’s strategic plan in 2018 and developed partnerships with
community colleges, business and industry, as well as government entities. This work was
highlighted by a unique partnership with Microsoft and the collaboration with multiple
businesses on The Catalyst, a 140,000-square-foot facility in downtown Spokane.    

Prior to joining Eastern Washington, Gordon spent 22 years at the University of Southern
Indiana, where he served as dean of the Pott College of Science, Engineering and Education. In
addition, Gordon served for 10 years as the Faculty Athletics Representative, was named a
NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative Fellow, and was vice president and treasurer of the Great
Lakes Valley Conference, which includes 14 NCAA Division II institutions.  

“I am honored to be named sole finalist for the position of President at Stephen F. Austin State
University,” Gordon said. “I look forward to the next steps in this process and the opportunity to
work with the SFA Board of Regents, university leadership, faculty, staff, students and the great
community of Nacogdoches to build on the tradition of excellence at SFA.”

Gordon called the opportunity to serve as a leader at SFA a “dream come true.” 

“I am deeply committed to the vision, mission and goals of SFA and believe my background and
values are a great fit with the institution,” he said. “I look forward to joining the SFA family.”

If confirmed by Regents after the state-required 21-day waiting period, Gordon will become
SFA’s ninth president, succeeding Dr. Baker Pattillo, who was SFA president from 2006 until
his death in December 2018.

Before interviewing finalists for the presidency, Regents considered recommendations from the
Presidential Screening Committee that worked with an executive search firm, R. William Funk
& Associates of Dallas, to review applications and meet with prospective candidates.

Alton Frailey, who chaired the search committee, said Gordon is an accomplished visionary who
will lead SFA into its second hundred-year history.

“Dr. Gordon has an outstanding track record in all aspects of academic leadership, from both
student and faculty recruitment to core curriculum development and strategic planning,” Frailey
said. “His vision for a student-centered education aligns with SFA’s values, and we look forward
to introducing him to the campus and the community.”

Gordon is expected to attend a public reception from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Cole Art Center
in Nacogdoches.

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