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 2024)
  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?
  6. Do you have dependents?
  7. How many?
  8. Please provide a personal statement of 500 words or less that addresses the following: 1) Your background; 2) Your educational and career plans; and 3) How a scholarship would benefit you. Note: The personal statement is a key component of the scholarship application, so please make sure your statement is thorough and detailed.
  9. Please upload a copy of your current academic records. (If you are currently a freshman, please upload your high school transcripts.)
  10. Letters of Recommendation - CSBS
    • The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences requires TWO letters of recommendation and at least one of these must be from an academic source, such as a current or former professor/teacher. The other can be from an employer, volunteer supervisor, but not a friend or family member. Applications that do not have the required letters will not be considered for awards. Please enter the email addresses of the two persons who have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you. 

      • Your reference must agree to write a letter BEFORE you put their contact information into your application. The very moment their contact information is input, an auto notification will be sent to them. If your reference did not agree to write a reference letter for you, they have every right to reject the system’s request.
      • Once your reference has agreed to write a letter for you, it is up to YOU to check your application to make sure the letter was submitted. You cannot see the letter but will be able to tell if it was received. Check the status of your letters by clicking on the "References" tab above.
      • Letters must be submitted by your reference by February 7, 2024.


  11. To be eligible for scholarships that list financial need as a criterion, a completed FAFSA application is required.

    Applicants who are U.S. Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and Eligible Nonresidents as defined by FAFSA are encouraged to complete an online federal financial aid application. Students not able to file an online FAFSA application (i.e., Dreamers with or without DACA and International Students) can fill out a paper application and submit it to the University Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid in the Student Services Building, Room 105. Click here to determine if you are eligible to complete an online FAFSA application.

    • Are you completing an electronic or paper FAFSA application?
    • Will you have completed your FAFSA application by April 1, 2024?
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