2012 Tate Award Recipient

Christine (Kit) Mack Gordon

Senior Academic Adviser, University Honors Program, the Office of Undergraduate Education

Kit GordonChristine Mack Gordon, or Kit as almost all of us know her, is a Senior Academic Adviser in the University Honors Program, in the Office of Undergraduate Education. Among her strengths, Kit is recognized for her enthusiasm for her students and the advising community over years of service to the University. Kit was among the core group of advisers who took it upon themselves to create that Academic Advising Network in the mid-80s. Since that time she has continued to serve the profession as a tireless ambassador for advising.

In the nomination statement Kit’s colleagues noted all that she contributes to the UHP effort.

“Kit Gordon has contributed her considerable talents to the University since 1985 in various roles, as teacher, mentor and most significantly as advisor to literally thousands of honors students. The remarkable thing about that number is that Kit has not lost her enthusiasm for meeting the needs of her students, while wearing many other hats. Kit has been a mentor to new and the most sage advisors and faculty on campus.”

One of the most unique letters in all of the dossiers this year speaks to Kit’s long-standing contributions. One of her former advisees is now a department head in CLA, and continues to have regular contact with Kit regarding UHP students. He wrote:

“I was a strong yet unfocused student. …It is not hyperbole when I say that Kit was the primary reason I ever received a B.A. degree in Women’s Studies/Political Science summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in anything approaching a timely matter (5 years). During the last three years of my undergraduate degree, Kit reached out to me time and again to make sure I met with her to review my course registrations. Innumerable times she looked at my list of courses for an upcoming quarter and helped me reorganize the list so that it would move me towards graduation…she would look at my rough course list, laugh and say something like, ‘…this is a great list, but I think we can do a little sharpening of it so you are not on the 12 year plan!’

…One of my greatest joys when I joined the University as an academic leader in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, was finding out that Kit would be advising many of my department’s honors students. …It is an extraordinary thing to hear it passionately confirmed that someone I worked with over 20 years ago and had such incredible impact on me is still maintaining that level of service, dedication and inspiration for her advisees.”

In her personal statement Kit wrote:

“We are privileged, at the University of Minnesota, to work with a wide range of students—from the wildly enthusiastic to the jaded and cynical. Some students challenge the best of us with their attitudes and expectations, anticipating that we will simply tell them what to do and all will fall into place. That, however, is not our role: though we must always begin at the student’s starting point, we must be willing to draw lines as necessary to teach them how much of their lives is truly in their hands. Regardless of the suggestions we may proffer and the resources to which we may direct them, the students themselves must take the steps that will allow them to achieve their goals. We can provide metaphorical shoulders and literal tissues at moments of crisis, we can be on hand to sympathize when things go wrong and to cheer their triumphs; we can point out, time and time again, the many ways in which their path might diverge, the many futures of which they may be a part.

“Serving as an advisor to undergraduates is a deeply fulfilling experience; in the many years I have played this role, I have learned at least as much from the students as they may have learned from me. Together, we continue to create our part of the world and the strands we weave together may, as they join those woven by others, become a marvelous tapestry of life in the twenty-first century.”

And one of her students commented:

“She…introduced herself as Kit. Even though her card said Christine Gordon, I have never heard a single person call her anything other than Kit. This name seems to fit her so much better than the formal Christine because of how she advises her students. Not only is she our advisor, she is our friend, our mother, our Kit.

“My very first meeting with Kit during the fall of my freshman year, I knew she was one of the best. Not only was she very informed in the College of Design—in which I am enrolled—but she knew all there was to know about theatre in the Twin Cities. This being my second passion, we hit it off instantly. Since then, any theatre opportunity she comes across, she instantly emails me with the details. Any advisor can remember who is in what major, but it takes a friend to remember a student’s passion and to share that passion with them.”