Two EdD alumni who led Southern California school districts during their careers have died. Robert French ’52, MS ’54, EdD ’69 and Gary Goodson EdD ’84 were longtime friends of the USC Rossier School of Education and members of the Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group (DSAG).
French, who passed away on June 23, began his career as a chemistry teacher in the Whittier Union School District in 1956. He worked in Huntington Beach and Fullerton, Calif., before becoming superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District and the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
He twice held the post of superintendent of the Orange Unified School District and was known for his ability to bring divisive groups together and earn the respect of the school board, teachers union, staff and community.
French was also involved with the DSAG efforts to strengthen partnerships between the school and K-12 districts around the state, as well as raise funds for scholarships to support future school leaders pursuing their doctorates at USC Rossier. He was a recipient of the DSAG award for his significant contributions to education and served as an adjunct professor for USC Rossier for 20 years. He later became assistant dean and clinical professor at the school.
Goodson, who led the San Gabriel Unified School District as superintendent for 19 years, died on June 19. He was 73.
Goodson began his career in education in 1961 as an eighth-grade teacher in the East Whittier School District. He served as an administrator for 20 years in the Temple City Unified School District before moving to San Gabriel in 1986.
Former staff members described Goodson as a caring, honest and unbiased leader in a recent Pasadena Star News story about his death.
Goodson was credited with successfully unifying the district and creating Gabrielino High School during his tenure. He also taught classes at USC Rossier, California State University, Los Angeles, and the University of La Verne. He retired from his post as superintendent in 2005.
Goodson was a regular at USC football games and USC Rossier tailgates, and he described his fondness for his alma mater in a video for the school’s 100th anniversary. His friend, Stu Gothold, a USC Rossier faculty member, urged him to pursue an EdD at USC.
“It was one of the most fantastic experiences,” he recalled. “My doctoral degree was in the unification of schools, and I was able to get into a school that was not unified, and we unified it.”
A memorial service will be held later this summer at the theater named in his honor, the Gary E. Goodson Theatre at Gabrielino High School.