Pack Profile: Suzanne Gordon
Suzanne Gordon not only supports her alma mater financially but also has served on several of its most important boards — something once unheard of for Wolfpack women.
Supporting NC State comes naturally for Suzanne Gordon. From donating to a wide range of scholarships and programs with her family to cheering on Wolfpack athletics, she has always wanted to ensure that her alma mater continues to be a place where extraordinary people learn, grow and succeed.
Gordon certainly did those things during her own time on campus. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics (’75), a bachelor’s degree in computer science (’75) and a master’s degree in statistics (’80) from the College of Sciences. She also graduated summa cum laude from her undergraduate studies, making her accomplishments that much more impressive.
Gordon then went on to a successful career with SAS Institute Incorporated, a software development company headquartered in Cary. She ultimately served as the firm’s chief information officer and vice president of information technology before retiring in 2012.
Early in her career, while attending a creative leadership workshop through SAS, Gordon realized she could make an even greater impact on NC State as just that: a leader.
“They sent a crew of us to the Center for Creative Leadership [in Greensboro], and one of the last things we had to do during the program was to put down a stretch goal — something that we really probably didn’t think we would accomplish.” Gordon said. “At that time, pretty much all the people on NC State’s Board of Trustees were older white males. So, I put down, ‘I want to be on the Board of Trustees.’”
To achieve her goal, she began accepting any request for NC State participation that came along. Some of the asks for service included stints on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Poole College of Management Dean’s Advisory Board and the College of Sciences Achieve Campaign Committee. She was a member of a math departmental committee and helped call other NC State alumni to raise money for various causes — anything that could benefit her alma mater while giving her the hands-on experience she knew it would take for her to be an effective member of the Board of Trustees one day.
“Whatever the opportunity to serve NC State was, I would just say yes and figure that it would help me.”
“It was kind of like opportunity-meets-preparation,” Gordon said. “Whatever the opportunity to serve NC State was, I would just say yes and figure that it would help me.”
Eventually, her hard work paid off and she accomplished her objective.
“In 1999, I was asked to join the Board of Trustees and fill out someone’s term who withdrew because of illness. I served through 2009 and was on the Advancement and External Affairs Committee and the Endowment Fund Board. I was also the vice chair for my last two years.”
Achieving her years-long goal could have left Gordon with a sense of completion, but she found a love for the work along the way. Her acts of service continued, and even grew, as a result.
Gordon joined the Institute for Advanced Analytics Advisory Board in 2007 and served for a decade, and joined the Investment Fund Members Board following her exit from the Board of Trustees. She was a member of the NC State Engineering Foundation Board, too, from 2010 to 2020. She served as its vice president (2017-18) and president (2019-2020).
While Gordon and her family had already been generous financial supporters of the Pack, her position with the Engineering Foundation helped raise their giving to a whole new level.
“Whenever you’re on a board like that, you kind of commit to give money yearly, and also a major gift,” Gordon said. “We tend to like to do student scholarships, that sort of thing. I love working with all kinds of kids, from babies to through college.”
The Ralph and Suzanne Gordon Family Scholarship Endowment was the result. The fund supports students enrolled in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, with preference given to students who are, have been or will be actively involved in outreach efforts to assist at-risk children or youth. The Gordons have created a similar scholarship in the College of Sciences for a math student.
“We’re a Pack family, and we want to reinforce that mindset in our children and, now, grandchildren.”
“Whenever we give money, we like to say ‘the Ralph and Suzanne Gordon Family’ instead of just ‘Ralph and Suzanne Gordon,’” Gordon said of her and her husband, who is also an NC State alum. “Our son, Stuart, and our daughter, Emily, both went to NC State, too, as did our daughter-in-law, Kelley, so we always try to include everyone in our gifts to the university. We’re a Pack family, and we want to reinforce that mindset in our children and, now, grandchildren.”
To that end, the Gordons also created a namesake Gordon Family Endowment for the Science House. The Science House was founded in 1991 and is headquartered on Centennial Campus. The organization works to provide grades K-12 teachers and students across North Carolina with the resources, programs and teaching materials they need to empower scientific literacy and hands-on discovery.
“We love giving, especially to causes that benefit young people,” Gordon said. “I have always believed the Bible verses 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: ‘Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’”
This post was originally published in Giving News.