July 21, 2024

Staff Members Follow Lindsay to Taylor, Senior Staff Changes under Hammond

Michel Bayarjargal '24 Staff Writer

Senior members of Gordon’s administration Will Hagen, Jewerl Maxwell, and Chris Jones have left to join former president Lindsay at Taylor University within the past year. Under President Hammond, some positions have been filled in by existing administration members, while others have been taken by new staff.  

Will Hagen left with President Lindsay in July 2021 to serve as Vice President of Strategy and Chief of Staff at Taylor. After working closely with Dr. Lindsay as Aide to the President, he served as Chief of Staff at Gordon where he chaired the COVID-19 Recovery Team and started the Frost Fellows program.  

In October 2021, former Vice President of Academic Initiatives Dr. Jewerl Maxwell was announced as Taylor University Provost. Maxwell had taught Political Science at Gordon and spearheaded an effort to raise $4.3 million for Gordon graduate-level programs.  

Chris Jones was recently recruited to Taylor as Chief Information Officer after over 22 years at Gordon. He served a great number of roles, most recently Vice President of Administration, Associate VP for Human Resources and Associate VP for Technology and Operations.  

This sort of movement of staff between institutions is nothing new. As Rick Sweeney, Vice President for Marketing and External Relations noted, “New presidents frequently have slots to fill and often look for individuals they know personally.” Working with people one knows decreases organizational friction and makes it easier for presidents to transition to their new institutions. These decisions are often personal as well as professional.  

Chris Jones reflected on his decision to take up the CIO position at Taylor as a professionally two-factored choice. Gordon was between CIOs during the ransomware attack in October, so Jones stepped in to lead the effort to combat it even though he had not worked in IT since early 2020. “I really realized how much I missed working in the IT department”, he said. “I enjoy working in other areas on campus but I really enjoy this. . . . I felt energised using my gifts, skills, and passions. Not that those haven’t been used [in HR], it’s just a different world.”  

Additionally, the CIO position at Taylor is a cabinet-level position, while the Gordon position is not. Thus, the transition to Taylor allows Jones to work in a department he is passionate about while also progressing his career as a member of the President’s cabinet.  

Although Jones leaves behind in New England family members, a church, and the Gordon community, he looks forward to “the opportunity to try something new and different” in the midwest. Jones expressed his love for Gordon and he insists that anyone can reach out to him for help even after he leaves.  

Internally, Gordon has also done some reshuffling. Executive VP of Academic Affairs and long time Music Education professor Dr. Sandra Doneski stepped up to serve as Provost. Doneski has taught in the Music Department since 1999 and specializes in curriculum development and learning theory. She is the recipient of the 2013 Administrators in Music Education Visionary Leadership award.  

Britt Carlson Eaton was named VP of Advancement in November of 2021 following her key leadership in the Faith Rising campaign that gathered $187 million in donations to the school. Carlson had already been serving as the interim VP of Advancement since July.  

Moving away from his role in Student Life, Executive VP Dan Tymann returned to Admissions as VP of Enrollment. Tymann served as VP of Enrollment until early 2020 and was planning to retire at the end of 2021, but realized his time at Gordon was not yet finished. “As 2021 progressed and my wife and I prayed about my retirement we felt the Lord leading me to put off my retirement indefinitely,” he said. “The two main reasons were our love for Gordon students and the mission of Gordon and secondly wanting to work for and with President Hammond.” As Executive VP of Enrollment, Tymann is developing a Strategic Enrollment Plan that “includes growth in enrollment of an even more diverse population of students.” 

Filling in Tymann’s role, Dr. Jennifer Skaggs was announced as the new VP of Student Life in March. In an email to the school community, President Hammond described Dr. Skaggs’ previous experience: “Jennifer brings three decades of experience in residence life, career services, experential learning, accreditation, and curriculum design, including faculty and senior administrative roles.” Dr. Skaggs spent eight years at the American University in Cairo serving as the Dean of Students and Associate VP for Student Life, and returned to the U.S. in 2020. She is also the president of Inifinite Ping, Inc., “a consulting business focusing on coaching and training in equity and diversity issues.”  

Finally, Traig Friedrich was hired as the new CIO at Gordon late last fall. Friedrich comes with his family from South Dakota, where he worked a number of jobs in private tech. He also taught as an adjunct instructor for Colorado Tech, teaching courses in database and application development, networking, and telecommunications. The Friedrich family is passionate about community involvement as they were a licensed foster care family in South Dakota and plan to continue this involvement in Massachusetts.  

When hiring senior admininstrative staff, Gordon’s leadership look for certain attributes that make candidates a good fit for the school. As Tymann stated, some of these criteria include “a strong Christian faith…depth/breadth of experience and education in their field, senior leadership in organizations where they have contributed to successful change and results in challenging circumstances, caring and collaborative leadership styles, a high level of integrity, [and] a love for and desire to mentor and minister to students.”  

Sweeney noted that “we are always happy for colleagues who are able to transition within sister institutions in the CCCU, especially if these are good next steps in their career or beneficial to their families,” and is grateful for Dr. Skaggs and Friedrich for joining Gordon’s staff.  

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