Gordon Wants ATU Students to Feel at Home

Delton Gordon is about to begin his 20th academic year as a student affairs professional, but he still remembers how his undergraduate experience made him realize the importance of community on a university campus.

“When I went to college, I was going to live on campus for one semester,” said Gordon, who is starting his first full year as associate dean for residence life at Arkansas Tech University. “I fell in love with living on campus. It was the friends. There were 30 of us on our floor, and we would go to lunch together. We pushed these big, 12-person round tables together, and we would do that every day. I realized that was home. It’s how I made a big place smaller.”

Gordon will help create a similar atmosphere for ATU students when they begin moving in to residence halls and on-campus apartments for the fall 2018 semester in August.

A first wave of early arrivals, including football and volleyball student-athletes and freshman orientation leaders, will be followed by the remainder of the on-campus student population on Sunday, Aug. 19. Approximately 2,500 students are expected to live on the ATU campus in Russellville this fall.

“The most crucial aspect of getting a student connected is making this place home,” said Gordon. “That’s the thing I enjoy most…trying to figure out what students like, what they want and what makes this home. Is it the people? If that’s the case, you work to hire the best people, train them well and teach them to engage with others. Is it what it looks like? Is it how it feels? Then you add the amenities they are used to so it’s not institutional-looking furniture and so there are photographs on the walls instead of a blank hallway.”

Gordon received his bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University before earning a master’s degree in counseling and student personnel at Emporia State University (Kan.).

He began his career at Kansas State University-Salina (now Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus), where he oversaw residence halls, campus recreation, leadership programs, fraternity and sorority life and Student Government Association during a six-year stint.

After serving as director of student leadership at Tarleton State University (Texas), he returned to Oklahoma State as an area coordinator in residence life 10 years ago.

“I really figured out during my couple of years outside of residence life that housing was what drew me into this profession, it was what I enjoyed and it was the language I spoke,” said Gordon.

He progressed to assistant director for residence life in Stillwater, a role that had him overseeing 3,000 beds, academic initiatives, leadership programs, residential curriculum and assessment for OSU’s student housing operation before he was hired to lead the residence life program at Arkansas Tech effective May 14.

Now, he is bringing the values he learned as a student and staff member at his alma mater to ATU.

“When students come to Arkansas Tech, they want to feel like this is a place where they belong,” said Gordon. “We have a huge task because residence halls are going to be one of their first experiences here. What’s going to make them feel like they are at Nana’s having chicken and dumplings? That’s what I want.”