Professor Dexter Gordon
Academic Convocation 2021 Faculty Speaker
Distinguished Professor Dexter Gordon will deliver the Academic Convocation address during the virtual Academic Convocation ceremony on May 15, 2021. Dr. Gordon was nominated by students to speak at convocation because, “He represents the class of 2021, in many ways including intelligence, integrity, diversity, and excellence,” and, “His love for the students, especially in humanizing their experiences has proved salient in our class' ability to feel engaged and held as we mobilize in both our academic and personal lives.” Dr. Gordon teaches rhetoric, media, culture, and African American studies. He is director of the African American Studies Program as well as the Race and Pedagogy Institute. The Institute exemplifies Dr. Gordon’s critical and educational commitments, with a mission to educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, to cultivate terms and practices for societal transformation, and to act to eliminate racism. This mission is in pursuit of a vision of realizing a society where the systemic causes of racism have been uprooted and in which we are energized to reimagine a world oriented toward a shared experience of liberation. To work effectively, the Race and Pedagogy Institute connects campus and community as reciprocal partners working to eliminate inequities in education. Dr. Gordon holds a B.A. in Theology (Jamaica Theological Seminary); an M.A. in Communication Ethics (Wheaton College); and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Culture (Indiana University). His scholarly work explores the themes of public discourse; social theory; and social, intellectual, and political history. In his book, Black Identity: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalism (2003), Dr. Gordon advocates for a critical reconstruction of historical memory that would provide an understanding of Black identity and help initiate a movement toward redemption and repair. His work has also included a range of community organizations and educational institutions, including the Washington State Superior Court and the Washington Correctional Center for Women, Blacks in Government, University of Washington, Lewis and Clark College, Evergreen State College, and the Tacoma Urban League.
Natalie Willoughby ’21
Academic Convocation 2021 Student Speaker
Natalie Willoughby, from Boise, Idaho, will graduate with majors in both Communication Studies and Politics and Government and, when you have the opportunity to hear Natalie speak, it is clear how these disciplines have intersected for her at Puget Sound. An exceptional public speaker, Natalie has participated on the campus debate team for four years, serving as president for two years. She has been an active campus community member, serving on the Resident Hall Association Board, working as Editor-In-Chief of the gender and identity-based campus publication Wetlands Magazine, and currently serving as treasurer of the Beta-Coders Computer Science Club, all while working on her Honors thesis. Her research was awarded the T.A. Davis Summer Research Award for 2020 and resulted in her thesis, “Intersectionality in Digital Activism.” Although her personal academic pursuits have been broad, she has never lost her dedication to the idea that every individual has the potential to make positive change in their own community