February 10, 2012
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.
(“For Good” from the Broadway musical Wicked)
On a very sad note, I’m writing to let you know that former Interim President Gordon Lamb passed away Monday, with his wife, Nancy, at his side. On behalf of our entire university family, I have extended our deepest sympathies to Nancy and his family. He is survived by Nancy, three sons and five grandchildren.
Dr. Lamb achieved national recognition as a leader in higher education. The University of Missouri System owes a debt of gratitude for his outstanding service as interim chancellor at UMKC from 1999 to 2000; as interim president of the system from 2007 to 2008; and as executive vice president during President Gary Forsee’s tenure. Although he retired from the system in March 2009, Dr. Lamb continued to serve as a higher education consultant and even for a brief period as interim president of Central Missouri University.
Our esteemed colleague’s contributions to our university were far-reaching and continue to stand the test of time. As interim president, Dr. Lamb established The Missouri 100, a presidential advisory group promoting the role of the university in the state’s future and its reputation worldwide. He also built a statewide coalition of public universities and community colleges to address the state’s growing health care needs—which resulted in the Caring for Missourians initiative.
Dr. Lamb also was an ardent and tireless supporter and protector of academic freedom. He once wrote, “Though any of us may take issue, from time to time, with the manner of teaching or the subject of a class discussion, we understand that the latitude given to faculty is important in the search for truth and the ability of faculty to lead students to a critical awareness and understanding of the subject.” He also publicly advocated for the application of the same principles to academic research.
Prior to his appointment as interim president, Dr. Lamb was senior vice president for EFL and Associates, an executive search firm with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. He also served as interim chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and subsequently as president of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago from 1986 to 1995. Before his Northeastern presidency, he served for nearly 12 years at the University of Texas-San Antonio as vice president-academic affairs and founding Director of the Division of Music.
Gordon authored numerous books, articles and musical compositions. As a music professor and choral conductor, he conducted concerts and festivals in 17 states and across Europe. In addition, he received several awards, including the National Award for Teacher Education’s Most Supportive President or Chancellor from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.
Gordon’s passion for quality public higher education translated into a long-lasting legacy of more than 40 years of important contributions for which we are most grateful and appreciative. We will miss him.
Stephen J. Owens