Artis Gordon: Inspired by his students

SOE doctoral student impressed with flexibility of Urban Services Leadership program and school’s dedication to Holmes Scholars Program

Headshot of Artis Gordon, VCU Holmes Scholar.
Artis Gordon (Courtesy Photo)

Artis Gordon is a second-year doctoral student in the VCU School of Education’s Ph.D. in Education, Concentration in Urban Services Leadership program with an expected Fall 2022 graduation. Originally from Hampton, Virginia, Gordon earned both his undergraduate mass communications degree and his master's degree in sport leadership from VCU. He is currently the director of student-athlete development for VCU Athletics, and was recently accepted into the VCU Holmes Scholars Program.

What drew you to the field of education?

I have always admired and respected educators and the teaching profession. The role of the educator is honorable and significant to building our communities. Teaching was something that I never considered because I did not feel I had the skills or acumen to do it successfully. However, once I started teaching an undergraduate course at VCU, I secretly fell in love with it.

Who inspired you to pursue study in this field?

My students that I have taught and advised over the years – just seeing the impact that I made on their lives beyond the classroom. Some of them reach out to me from time to time, and that makes me feel that I inspired them. That was my primary motivation for building a career in higher education.

Why VCU SOE for your Ph.D.?

I believe that education is the key to building a successful community. I love how VCU SOE makes it an intentional priority to contribute to the community in many of its initiatives.

What has impressed you most about the Ph.D. in Urban Services Leadership program so far?

I am impressed with the range and flexibility of the Urban Services Leadership program. The program allows you to examine adult learning and leadership from many different perspectives to include public and private sectors, psychology, education and business.

Any tips for students who are considering study in this program?

While you want to have an idea about what you want to study or research, keep an open mind and allow yourself to grow and develop from new knowledge and perspectives.

What drew you to the Holmes Scholars Program?

After reading about the program, it impressed me how dedicated the School of Education and Dean Daire were to the success of the program. It has the intention to provide needed assistance and resources to students who really need the network.

What have you enjoyed most about the Holmes Scholars Program so far?

The constant check-ins and opportunity to dialogue with a community of students at VCU and beyond. The program provides accountability and motivation.

Tell me about the Leadership Academy that you facilitate.

The Leadership Academy consists of student-athletes who are nominated by their coaches as being emerging leaders. The group meets once a month. The first semester focuses on developing strengths, values, and a self-concept as a leader, and the second semester is about learning how to apply leadership principles, from leaders in the community. While the program has been challenging to facilitate virtually, because you lose some of the richly connected conversations and activities, I am impressed how the students try to engage and learn from each other.