#SATBT Student Affairs Throwback Thursday: Timothy Gordon

Timothy Gordon

timsheadshot2Current Position and Institution:
Dean of Students, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

First Position and Institution:
Resident Director, Michigan State University

As a bright-eyed and eager new professional I was excited to start my first post-Master’s job working as a Resident Director at Michigan State University. I was assigned to work in a building that was serving a new residential learning program dubbed the “Residential Option for Science and Engineering Students” or “ROSES.” In this role I learned many lessons related to building relationships between our work in student affairs and the work of our colleagues working academic units. I learned that we have very similar goals for supporting our students and seeing them succeed, however we were using different words, phrases, and experiences to describe them.


These were not the most important lessons, though. The most important lesson would come as I sat in my first meeting with my fellow Resident Directors to prepare our budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. We rattled off all of the things that we wanted to accomplish without much care for the price tag or how learning outcomes would be measured. The lesson began when our wise Complex Director, looked down the table at each of us. She explained that it was fiscally impossible to afford all of the activities that we listed and that we should identify what had the most impact and what we would prioritize. This wisdom gave the group into a bit of a reality check. It forced us to acknowledge what were our “pet” projects versus what was for the greater good of all students.  We eventually arrived at a more realistic budget and list.


That moment, along with dozens of others, taught me about working in a team, understanding the impact of decisions beyond my own scope, and set me on a path of being a data-driven and fiscally responsible leader in higher education.

The #SATBT series asks higher education and student affairs professionals to share a picture and reflect on a memory and/or one of the most important lessons the learned from their first job in the field.

Consider contributing your story for potential inclusion in the book version…

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