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Avel Louise Gordly
Avel Louise Gordly


How did you end up at PSU as a student?

In 1971, I had a dear friend Mildred who was already taking classes at PSU. I was encouraged by her experience to take a look at going back to school. At that point I was a single parent and working full time. Some people said I was nuts for leaving the security of a full-time job, but I knew it was what I wanted to do.

What’s your best memory from your time at PSU?  

I became the first in my family to attend and graduate college. It was with a great deal of pride and joy that my parents joined me in August of 1974 and watched me walk across that little stage as I achieved graduation.  It was quite a moment. 

What is the most important thing you learned at PSU?  

When I came to campus, I was involved in the black cultural affairs board and did a lot of mentoring and counseling for other black students coming to campus for the first time. That was one of my early learnings—how important it is to reach out so that the new folks coming along know that there’s a bridge for them. 

Can you briefly describe your experience with diversity on campus?  

The fact that I’m now teaching here feels like I’m coming full circle. It’s like coming back home. Portland State University is a part of the experience I’ve had in building what I call the “beloved community” where all people have a place and all people matter. 

How do you fit into tapestry of students/faculty here?  

I’m just stepping out of a teaching role as an Associate Professor in the Black Student Department at this wonderful university. I had been teaching leadership, public policy and community development from the perspective of the black experience in Oregon. Now I’m taking a little break from teaching, but continuing to serve in more of a consultant role. 

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