Gordon Gerson - Doctorate: Computer Science, 1971
I was able to attend UT courtesy of the United States Air Force. I had been teaching computer science at the Air Force Academy for two years. I applied for and was given two years to attend the university of my choice to obtain a PhD. I chose UT for several reasons: 1- Bergstrom AFB was right at hand if any support was needed. 2- The language requirement could be satisfied by having two years of a language at the undergrad level with at least a B grade. 3- It was an entirely new program at UT and appeared challenging.
I soon realized that having been a classroom teacher for two years gave me a distinct advantage. I decided that I knew something well enough if I felt capable of teaching it.
The morning of the day that I took my oral exam I cut a class. That was the only time in my entire academic career that I ever cut a class…first and last.
My doctoral advisor, Professor Al Dale (now, unfortunately deceased) was gone on a U.N. project behind the “Iron Curtain” during the entire time that I was working on my dissertation, making him essentially unavailable. So I got to make all of my decisions alone. Fortunately they were deemed acceptable and I was able to present my dissertation shortly after he returned.
I was one of the fortunate few who returned to the Air Force after two years with a completed PhD.
In later years, as an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University I was able to return the favor by mentoring several doctoral candidates.