MONTICELLO, AR — Faith, family and an unswerving belief in the value of education form the foundation of Moses Goldmon’s life. The eighth of 10 children, Goldmon learned about faith and family from his parents, Curtis and Barbara Goldmon. He learned the value of education at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, thanks to a faculty member whose background mirrored his.
Today, Goldmon is the executive vice president and chaplain of Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., and the 55th recipient of UAM’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
(Goldmon will be honored Friday during UAM's spring commencement exercises at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Steelman Fieldhouse. Graduates from the Schools of Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer Information Systems and Education will receive their degrees at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduates of the Schools of Forestry and Natural Resources, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Nursing, Social and Behavioral Sciences as well as the Division of General Studies and the University of Arkansas System eVersity will receive their degrees at the 2 p.m. ceremony.)
“I don’t know if it’s a product of age,” says Goldmon, “but my time at UAM, just over the last four or five years, has really become precious to me. When I realized the significance of this award, I had to sit down and gather myself. I don’t normally tell people when I win some kind of award or honor, but this got me a little out of character. I’ve shared this with a lot of people and asked them to come be a part of it, so it’s really special to me.”
Goldmon grew up on a farm in south Jefferson County and attended Pine Bluff High School, where he caught the eye of college football recruiters as a standout wide receiver. The University of Arkansas and Arkansas State asked him to walk on and he received interest from NAIA schools but the only full scholarship offers came from UAM and UA-Pine Bluff. “The coaching staff at UAM really wanted me,” remembers Goldmon. “Everybody else was kind of ho-hum about it, with the exception of UAPB.”
Goldmon’s father steered him to UAM with some sound advice. “He knew I had too many friends in Pine Bluff and at the school,” Goldmon says. “He thought it would be more of a distraction than I needed at that point in my life and he was right.”
Goldmon lettered four years for the Boll Weevils from 1980-83 and started his last three seasons at wide receiver. He keeps in touch with a few of his former teammates but doesn’t dwell on past football glory.
But ask him about his favorite memory as a Weevil and 34 years melt away. The date was September 10, 1983. UAM was locked in a back-and-forth struggle with its archrival, UAPB, in the first game of the season. UAM scored late to cut the Golden Lions’ lead to 28-27 and Goldmon knew what was coming next.
“I knew we were going for two and I knew the play we would run,” he says.
The play was a button-hook pass to the wingback but there was a problem. Marvin Seets, the starting wingback, had injured himself on the touchdown. Goldmon took matters into his own hands, motioning for Lance Gasaway to come into the game for Seets. Goldmon and Gasaway normally alternated at wide receiver, but for this play, Goldmon moved to wingback. “I wanted the ball,” he says. “I wanted to run that play. I was able to catch it and we won the game in the last few minutes.”
Away from football, Goldmon was a health and physical education major with a history minor and was planning a future as a coach. He joined Kappa Alpha Psi and became active in campus Greek life, but it was a class with Dr. Mary Jane Gilbert that changed his career goals. By the early, 1980s, Gilbert was already a UAM legend after starting the women’s basketball program and guiding it to 111 wins in six seasons. But it was in the classroom where she had the most impact.
“I tell this story quite a bit, especially to our faculty members because it reminds me how important faculty-student relationships are,” Goldmon says. “We were in class one day and she had everybody go around and talk a little about themselves and I mentioned that I was one of 12 in my family. And she said she was one of 11 in her family and from there we clicked.”
Goldmon credits Gilbert with teaching him the importance of studying. “She told me to go to the library and to read all the material in the books,” he says. “She gave me a lot of tips about how to effectively take and pass exams. She also made me realize how much of an impact you can make on people’s lives at the college level.”
By the time he graduated from UAM in 1984, Goldmon was being drawn to teaching and eventually, a life in higher education. He entered the master’s degree program at Iowa State to pursue a physical education degree with a concentration in sports management with plans to “teach a little, coach a little, and ultimately become an athletic director.” But a year as a graduate assistant teaching undergraduates made him choose a different path. “I realized how much I enjoyed teaching and got to do a couple of things in administration and all these years later, here I am,” he says.
After earning his master’s degree in 1987, he was accepted into the doctoral program in health education at the University of Tennessee and received an Ed.D. in 1991. In February 1992, he was named executive director of the East Tennessee Area Health Education Center in Knoxville and six months later accepted a position as associate director of the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a job he held for nine years. In 2004, he became director of the Action Research in Ministry Institute at Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, N.C., earning a master of religious education degree in 2009. Along the way, he held adjunct teaching positions at both UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central, was an assistant professor of field education and later an assistant professor of religious education at Shaw, and compiled an imposing list of published research on a variety of topics.
Goldmon began pastoring in 1999 with no formal theological training, a reflection of the deep Christian faith instilled by his parents. When Goldmon was a child, his parents insisted that all their children attend Sunday School and church. “If you didn’t go, you didn’t do anything the rest of the day,” Goldmon says. “No television, no leaving the house. It was a pretty easy choice.”
Goldmon's faith led him to pastor churches in North Carolina and Tennessee and in 2014 he was able to combine his higher education experience with his theological background when he accepted a position as executive vice president and chaplain of Lane College, a private historically black institution affiliated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Goldmon calls working at Lane a calling. "I think it relates to the mission of the institution and the kind of students we address," he says. "I came from a similar, although different, background from many of our students. Similar in that there were not a lot of people in my family who had gone to college at the time, but different in that I had a real strong family structure. Many of our students don't. I've come to realize that by sharing who I am and doing everything that I can to make sure that our college is structured in a way that our students have an opportunity to meet somebody, whether it's me or someone in the community, that it will help them understand that a college education can be a way to a much better life and an opportunity to make a difference in the world. That may sound trite, but I really mean it."
Now 55, Goldmon and his wife, Suzzette, would seem settled in Jackson. Their oldest daughter, Christa, is a first-year medical student at Meharry Medical College in Nashville while younger daughter, Patrice, is a second-year law student at North Carolina Central.
But Goldmon has one more career goal in mind. Since 2016, he and Suzzette have been attending seminars for prospective college and university presidents at the encouragement of Lane College President Logan Hampton. He has also received additional support from UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes.
"Dr. Hampton came into my office one day and asked me 'Have you ever thought about being a chancellor or president?'" Goldmon says. "I told him no and he said I should think about it."
Since then, Moses and Suzzette have gone through a year-long program and are now being mentored. "In the midst of all that, I realized that I do aspire to be a college president," he says. "And Dr. Hughes was actually instrumental in helping me make that decision. When I read about her being UAM's first female chancellor, I arranged my schedule so I could come to homecoming and meet her. We connected and after I left, I called her back a couple of times and we talked specifically about how to prepare yourself and how to know it's something you're called to do. She helped me sort through a lot and realize that it's something I want to do."
Should Goldmon get the call to lead an institution of higher education, he'll no doubt take with him the devotion to faith, family and education that have made him successful and worthy of the title "Distinguished Alumnus."
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