Oakley J. Gordon Memorial Endowed Scholarship


Dean Oakley J. Gordon believed that the university should serve the whole community, not just the traditional student who moves from high school into college and then works their way through a degree. We, the Oakley Gordon family, are particularly interested in helping non-traditional students: those who are entering or returning to the university later in life. We want “non-traditional” students to feel that the university cares about you, and that there is an appreciation for your pursuit of a higher education, despite the challenges you may face. We believe you belong in school and are worth investing in.

Selection Criteria:

  • Seven or more years have elapsed between last year in high school and freshman year at the University of Utah
  • Must demonstrate financial need
  • Declared major in the College of Social and Behavioral Science

Donor: The Family of Oakley J. Gordon

About Oakley J. Gordon:

Known for his pipe and untied bow-tie, Oakley J. Gordon was an important figure at the University of Utah for over 40 years; well-respected for his intellect and integrity, and well-liked for his common sense and humanity. He received his doctorate degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Utah in 1952 and was given the unusual honor of being invited to join the faculty at the same institution from which he graduated. After serving in several administrative positions he became dean of the Division of Continuing Education, a position he held for 18 years until he retired. Oakley Gordon had a strong belief that the university should serve more than the traditional students who graduate from high school and go immediately to college. He thought the university should also serve the needs of people who wish to return to receive a university education later in life, people who cannot attend classes at the regular times or places, as well as people who are not pursuing a degree but could benefit from the university’s resources.

When he took over the reins of the Division of Continuing Education it was essentially a small and low prestige night school. He hired a staff of creative and motivated individuals, gave them a direction and a mission, and then set them free to create something special. Within a few years the division had blossomed into a multi-million dollar organization designed to serve the needs of non-traditional students; with a greatly expanded late afternoon and night class schedule, satellite campus centers spread throughout the area, arts programs, business certification programs, lecture series, and various other services designed to enhance the quality of life and education in Utah. During his tenure as dean he continued to teach a few classes a year for the psychology department. For many years he taught General Psychology and Industrial Psychology, and later in his career he taught Statistics for Psychology to small classes of non-traditional students in the university’s satellite centers, something he continued to do after his retirement. For several years during the summer he ran a Peace Corps training center at the University of Utah, training volunteers who subsequently served in Morocco, Tunisia, and Ethiopia.

Throughout his career at the University of Utah, Oakley never lost his focus on, and compassion for, the students who had to struggle to get a college education. This scholarship was established by those who loved and respected him to continue this focus and compassion in his name. We look for good students who do not fit the traditional mold, who are facing additional challenges in getting an education, who have not been able to step directly into college from high school and proceed at a normal pace, students who could use a little help. Oakley J. Gordon’s career was all about giving people who needed it a chance to succeed.

Questions: Please email scholarships@csbs.utah.edu

Supplemental Questions
  1. What is your anticipated semester and year of graduation? (EX: Spring 2023)
  2. What is your declared major(s)?
  3. Are you a non-traditional student (one where 7 or more years have elapsed between your last year in high school and your freshman year at the U.)
  4. Why has it been seven or more years since receiving your high school diploma and choosing to pursue your college degree?
  5. What challenges or obstacles have you faced, or are facing, in your pursuit to receive a college education as a nontraditional student?
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