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General Assembly adopts minute of appreciation for Principal Gordon

At the 143rd General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, Monday evening, June 5, 2017 (4th Sederunt), Knox College Board Convener Peter Ross presented the following minute of appreciation, which the assembly adopted.

Rev. Dr. Dorcas J. Gordon at Knox College’s 173rd Convocation, May 10, 2017


The Rev. Dr. Dorcas J. Gordon will be leaving Knox College when she ends a year-long sabbatical that begins on July 1, 2017. Therefore it seems timely to the Board of Governors that we minute her departure with a heartfelt appreciation of her service to and passion for the College at this 143rd General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. 

Her academic background includes a B.A. degree in history from the University of Toronto and three degrees in theology (M.Div., Th.M., and Th.D.) from Knox College. In addition to her congregational ministry, she has served as Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at the Toronto School of Theology, and taught both in that context and at Knox College. 

In 1999, when she assumed the principalship of Knox College, she came to a college that already had a strong reputation. She has assiduously built on that strong foundation to take the college to new heights of accomplishment. She has steered it through two successful accreditation visits by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), using these visits to improve governance, academic programs, and assessment processes. In order to keep Knox College abreast of changes, she has introduced new programs such as the Master of Theological Studies, Master of Religious Studies, Master of Pastoral Studies, and a Ph.D. program. She has ensured that faculty have had opportunities for their professional growth through research funding, attendance at conferences and sabbaticals. With the Board of Governors, she has provided leadership for board education and growth; she has also encouraged a “Trusting the Spirit” Committee to study where God is leading us in the future. 

She has strengthened the college as an academic institution through her recruitment of first-rate faculty, the modernization of the Caven Library, and the installation of smart classrooms. At the same time, she has attended to the maintenance and renovation of the building and the annual preparation of a balanced budget. In her own words, Dr. Gordon stated to the Board of Governors: “Of great significance for me has been the increased recognition that Knox has gained within the broader field of North American theological education. We are looked upon as a seminary of strength, one that has embraced each opportunity that has arisen and taken bold action when required. We are also recognized internationally as a place of academic excellence, especially within theological education in South Korea.”

She has become a familiar and respected presence at North American and global theological events and councils. This has led to partnerships with seminaries in South Korea, Taiwan, and Cuba. The Rev. Dr. Dan Aleshire, Executive Director of ATS, remarked: “Dorcas Gordon, in addition to her exemplary service to Knox College, has made substantive and significant contributions to the broader community of theological schools. Dr. Gordon served a term on the Commission on Accrediting and has been a member of numerous accrediting committees to schools in Canada and the United States. She also served as a member of the ATS Board of Directors and was President of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada for the 2012–2014 biennium. Few persons have served theological education as broadly and well as Dorcas Gordon.”

Many of us who have been touched by her gracious spirit, appreciate Dorcas’ warmth and her pastoral skills. As a Christian leader, she is an inspiration and model for students. Women students feel particularly drawn to her example of service and leadership. Truly a treasure to our national church and an exemplary representative of what is good about The Presbyterian Church in Canada, she has been a goodwill ambassador to Christians in other lands.