Monday, February 1, 2016

Faculty Members Gordon & Sally Jesse Receive Emeritus Distinction

Sally and Gordon Jesse, Performing Arts Faculty at CGCC
On January 26th, The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) governing board awarded Emeritus Distinction to two CGCC Performing Arts faculty members and power-couple, Gordon and Sally Jesse, for their distinguished service to the college. Having served Chandler-Gilbert Community College for a combined 58 years, the Jesses’ accomplishments both individually and together make them most deserving of this distinction. 

Gordon Jesse began his career at CGCC in 1986 and began working toward his first milestone here, founding the Performing Arts department.  He was instrumental in developing four performance spaces at the Pecos Campus, the largest of which is the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center.  Gordon’s “chair-ity” work includes chair of the MCCCD Fine Arts Development Committee, chair of the CGCC Communication and Fine Arts division, division chair council and Faculty Association.  Over three decades, Gordon earned many accolades that underscore why he has now earned emeritus distinction, but chief among them is his unwavering advocacy for the Performing Arts and for CGCC.  In fact, so ardently did Gordon lobby for the Performing Arts and CGCC, that he jokingly says feels lucky to have kept his job for 31 years in view of how many board members, chancellors, vice-chancellors and presidents he annoyed over the years!

Sally, perhaps the more graceful of the pair, joined CGCC as our first residential dance faculty in
1988.  And if Gordon founded the Performing Arts Center, Sally certainly filled it with performances, directing and choreographing over 40 musical theater productions and directing more than 50 dance concerts in her 27-year career at CGCC.  Weaving such rich experiences into the fabric of CGCC was made possible by Sally’s effort to revise the MCCCD dance curriculum in 1991 moving it from a physical education activity to a performing art.  Not only did Sally bring the art of dance and musical theatre to CGCC, she exported CGCC to the world by establishing the original CGCC dance company which toured dancers to the American College Dance Festival for over two decades.  Sally, like Gordon, was a great promoter of the performing arts during her time at CGCC, serving as chair of CGCC’s Communication and Fine Arts division and as president and secretary of the CGCC Faculty Association, not to mention contributing to statewide committees including Arizona Dance Standards, Dance Arts Alliance, Dance Educators Association, and Arizona Dance Coalition. 

Considering all that Gordon and Sally have achieved individually, it is no wonder that they have also done outstanding things together.  This is exemplified by their co-direction of the San Tan Arts Festival, a three-day community arts festival that ran for 13 years at the college, for which they received CGCC’s prestigious Innovation of the Year Award.

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