Norwich Mourns the Loss of General Gordon R. Sullivan ’59

By Marc Kolb, Marketing & Communications Office

Today, there is heartfelt sadness in the entire Norwich community. Together, we mourn the loss of General Gordon R. Sullivan, an outstanding leader and Norwich icon. He passed away on January 2, 2024.

Image of General Gordon R. Sullivan

GEN Sullivan, NU Class of ’59, came to Norwich in 1955 from Quincy, MA. He studied History at Norwich while working in the mess hall and joining Sigma Phi Epsilon. Even though he spent several years at Norwich, Sullivan wasn’t convinced the military life was for him until he attended a summer camp at Fort Knox in 1958. While there, he fell in love with the Army. 

“At that point I knew I wanted to get my commission and I wanted to serve. Once I figured that out, I knew I wanted to become a real soldier and I did become a real soldier and I loved it,” said GEN Sullivan. 

Among the people GEN Sullivan impacted during his career was General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Secretary of State. 

In his book, GEN Powell wrote of GEN Sullivan:

“General Sullivan is one of the Army’s most visionary leaders. His insights into leadership and human behavior are truly profound. His experience transforming the Army is a powerful story one from which leaders in all walks of life can learn.”

GEN Sullivan retired from the U.S. Army in 1995. He then spent two years in the commercial sector, but when the opportunity to serve as the President of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) came along, he felt it was an ideal fit to continue his commitment to the Army. He also co-founded the Marshall Legacy Institute in 1997—this organization has trained hundreds of mine detection dog teams to work in war-torn countries to remove the dangerous remnants of war and conflict—and served as Chairman of the Army Historical Foundation. 

He continued to devote himself to his alma mater while first serving as a trustee in 1995 and then as Chair of the Board from 2003-2016. He also served as President of the University's Museum Associates. Norwich’s Sullivan Museum and History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, is named in his honor.

GEN Sullivan’s 2016 Todd Lecture on “National Security Implications of Climate Change” helped launch the Center for Global Resilience and Security (CGRS), which bears his initials and researches the intersections of water, infrastructure, climate change, and energy from a national security perspective. He was the Distinguished Leader in Residence for CGRS through 2018 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Environmental Health and Sciences Foundation in 2019 for his stewardship of environmental security.

Gordon served as Norwich’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees until 2016 and then would go on to serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Army Historical Foundation and would form, with three other retired officers, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI). GEN Sullivan helped establish the MLI to extend the vision and legacy of Nobel Peace Laureate George C. Marshall. It’s the mission of the MLI to locate, secure, and apply skills and resources to alleviate suffering, restore hope, and create conditions that nurture stability in countries affected by conflict.

GEN Sullivan was a mentor to countless Norwich faculty, staff, students, and alumni.  A humble servant-leader, he would share his love of history with alumni and friends, leading multiple staff rides to the battlefields of Europe and the Civil War. GEN Sullivan received his master's degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire.

He resided in Falmouth, MA and was married to Lori Boyle Sullivan, his wife since 2017, at the time of his passing. He was the proud father of three children and three grandchildren. GEN Sullivan was previously married to Miriam Gay Loftus who predeceased him in 2014. 


About Norwich University 
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

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