Don Gordon

Donald Gordon

Executive Director, Riley Institute; Professor, Politics and International Affairs

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Dr. Donald Gordon has been the Executive Director of the Riley Institute since its inception in 1999. Under his direction, the Riley Institute has worked to advance social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond.

A faculty member of Furman’s Politics and International Affairs Department, Dr. Gordon specializes in African and Middle Eastern Politics.

Dr. Gordon has also served as a Chief of Staff and Committee Counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida.


  • Dr. Gordon is a multiple winner of the Maiden Award
  • Recipient of the Alester G. and Janie Earle Furman Meritorius Teaching Award
  • Selected to be a member of Quarternion


  • Ph.D., University of Florida
  • M.A., University of Florida
  • B.A./B.S., University of South Florida


With his wife April Gordon, he is the author/editor of Understanding Contemporary Africa now in its 5th edition. Since 1992, Understanding Contemporary Africa is said to be the most frequently chosen text on Africa in the United States. It has been translated into several languages and is used by various national agencies to inform administrators and officials in the field about the continent.