SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Dr. Marshall Gordon, 81, of Springfield, passed away Friday, May 17, 2019. He was born September 1, 1937, in Ballard County, Kentucky, the son of Ollie James and Dora Ellen (Everett) Gordon.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry at Murray State University in Kentucky and a Ph.d in Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. He met his wife Annette at Vanderbilt University and they were married in 1962.
He worked as an organic chemist at Murray State University, teaching and conducting research until he started a career in university administration in 1975. At Murray State he served as Dean of the College of Environmental Sciences, Vice President for University Services, and as acting President of Murray State University.
He came to Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU, now Missouri State University) in 1983 as its seventh president. During his administration, enrollment exceeded 20,000 for the first time, bringing an economic impact of more than $1 million a day to southwest Missouri. While growth was an important priority, the university focused on increasing the number of highly-qualified students through an expanded scholarship program.
By 1987, SMSU had more National Merit Scholarship Finalists enrolled than any of the 372 institutions in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU.) The number of departmental and program accreditations increased from five to 17. This included the College of Business Administration, the largest business program in the state, which was successfully examined for accreditation by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. To stimulate faculty research, the university established a grants program. A series of awards recognized excellence in teaching and research. A capital expansion program added several new facilities to the campus, including David D. Glass Hall, the Professional Building, Kentwood Hall, Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex, and the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
Athletic success included a seven-year run in men's basketball postseason play. The Lady Bears reached the NCAA women's basketball Final Four in 1992. The university drew international attention in 1989 with its controversial production of Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" portraying the cruel realities of the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Gordon defended the freedom of faculty and students to stage the play. In retirement, he continued to be active in higher education. He served on the Board of Directors of Ozarks Technical Community College Foundation from 2006 through 2017.
He enjoyed the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one sister and one brother.
Marshall is survived by his wife, Annette (Waters) Gordon; his daughter, Mary Ann Gordon; and a sister, Imogene Warren.
Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 24, 2019, in Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home, 1947 East Seminole, Springfield, MO 65804.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of the following organizations: Murray State University Foundation for the Marshall and Annette Gordon Chemistry Research Fund, c/o Office of Development, 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, Kentucky 42071; Missouri State University Foundation, 300 S. Jefferson, Suite 100, Springfield, Missouri 65806; Ozarks Technical Community College Foundation, 1001 E. Chestnut Expressway, Springfield, Missouri 65802 or Hospice Compassus, 1465 E. Primrose, Springfield, Missouri 65804.