Bonnie Gordon wins University of Virginia Public Service Award

Written by Mike Mather, Managing Editor UVA Today

Employees’ Years of Public Service to University, Community Earn Awards

This year’s Public Service Award winners worked to incorporate the arts into the lives of local children, support Afghan refugees who are new to our community, unearth forgotten and troubling history, and ensure that young hospital patients from low-income families worry less about their next meals.

Bonnie Gordon, Associate Professor, Department of Music 

Among other endeavors involving carefully nurtured partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders, Gordon is the founder of Arts Mentors, a program involving UVA student volunteers that she established in 2011 to expose area children, especially those from low-income families, to the arts.

“Her commitment to incorporate community engagement with teaching led to the Civic & Community Engagement Program, which she started and ran for several years,” wrote Nomi Dave, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Music. “Her role involved coordinating across multiple classes and intensively working with all the faculty to develop methods and practices for building community partnerships between our students and local individuals and groups. It required a mountain of work and yet she was always looking to do more and better. … Almost every day, she proposes ideas, asks questions or opens doors for the rest of us to ensure that we are working in equitable and thoughtful ways within the local community.”

Portrait of Bonnie Gordon

Bonnie Gordon is the founder of Arts Mentors, a program involving UVA student volunteers that she established in 2011 to expose area children to the arts. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)


With her colleagues from the Sound Justice Lab, Gordon also helped create “Cville Tulips,” a community-driven program to provide support to resettled Afghan refugee women and children in Charlottesville. The organization recently received a $150,000 grant from the Jefferson Trust to continue the work.

“The effects of her work and presence are everywhere in this town,” wrote Ted Coffey, a professor and chair in the Department of Music. “Nearly everyone I encounter in Charlottesville knows and admires her.”

Students said Gordon shows she is invested in their success, dispensing book recommendations, advice and “links to obscure archival documents” that help them on their academic journeys.

“In addition to her impressive array of scholarly achievements, Dr. Gordon serves as a role model for graduate students hoping to do interdisciplinary work, especially young women,” said L. Carrington OBrion, a doctoral student. “She is a generous giver of feedback and offers an expansive view of the possibilities of history.”

Excerpted from UVA Today article by Mike  published April 20, 2023

Mike Mather,
Managing Editor 
University Communications (434) 243-3781


UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176