Rev. Milton Jordan ’62, Distinguished Southwestern Service
Described as a person of integrity, courage, insight and enthusiasm, Jordan is known to reach out to help others in need as well as to initiate action in order to foster change. His friends and family members share that he is thoughtful, caring, dedicated, committed, and a genuinely good person.
A friend and fellow clergy member in the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church says Jordan has been on “the leading edge of history” many times, supporting people and issues—gay rights, equal treatment of immigrants and underrepresented groups, humane treatment of inmates—long before they were popular. “Milton is a person of high energy, great insight and ultimate integrity,” he says, “and he has a way of being both prophetic and pastoral at the same time…and that is not an easy feat.”
On top of his passion for people and causes, Jordan has a passion for history as well. His children say, “His knowledge of Texas history, along with his ability to tell a good story, make him a very entertaining teacher, which has been a great gift for all those around him.” They add that driving around Texas with their dad is like listening to a living history podcast … every intersection is a prompt for another historical event. “Dad may say something like, ‘Down this road was the first battle between the regulators and the moderators during the middle part of the 1800s.” They say he helps them realize that the events of the past are all around and shape the present in ways that many people don’t realize.
One of his children says, “I think of my dad often when I’m driving out of town. (I used to) race to get from my starting point to the destination and rarely cared about the miles in between. Dad cares about all the miles in between and takes the time to learn and understand what can be found and learned from them.”
Jordan is a Methodist pastor, a historian, a storyteller, and a writer of both history and poetry. “He takes the time to tell the stories that are all too often left untold, whether the story of a migrant farm worker in Idaho or a civil rights pioneer in east Texas.”
A friend and fellow alumnus with whom Jordan continues to meet regularly says, “Although he values the past, Milton’s focus is always on the future. He challenges me to think, and does the same for his community, especially challenging long-held beliefs of the status quo.”
Another longtime friend adds that “Milton believes in the best of humanity and continually seeks to bring people together for the common good. He never gives up, despite the odds, and he serves as an example for others along the way. He has a keen interest in interpreting the past for others and has, in recent years, made solid contributions to our collective understanding of local and community history. And, in whatever he does, Milton lets people know about his Southwestern connection and, in doing so, serves as a prominent ambassador for his beloved university.”
One of Jordan’s fellow alumni and Phi Delta Theta fraternity members says Jordan has always been true to his upbringing. “His family values are what led him to stand up for others even as a student. He and another student advocated in 1960 for black employees in the SU cafeteria to have better pay and better hours. Bill Finch, the president of the University at the time, agreed and there was a happy ending.”
His dedication to Southwestern has continued long past his graduation. Jordan served on the Alumni Council for four years; coordinated the Alumni Assembly Program “Higher Education on the Texas Frontier;” is an active volunteer with the Office of Special Collections; provided text for the University’s Root Colleges documentary; assisted with 2015 Charter Day Celebrations; coordinated alumni speakers and preached at the 2014 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend Worship Service; was a member of the committee in search for a new University Chaplain; has been an Alumni Assembly Delegate since 2008; was the Aldersgate Day and Charter Day Celebration Coordinator for several years, and much more.
Friends and family members agree that Jordan is a true friend to the university he loves so much and is a model of living out Southwestern’s Core Purpose: “Fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions toward the well-being of humanity.”
It is for this love of Southwestern, along with his love of humanity, that The Association of Southwestern University Alumni presents Rev. Milton Jordan with the 2015 Distinguished Southwestern Service Award.