Monday, August 22, 2011

Whitworth mourns loss of longtime economics professor

Harry M. Dixon, a former long-serving business and economics professor at Whitworth University, died peacefully at the age of 92 in his home in Simi Valley, Calif., on Aug. 18.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Memorial gifts to honor Dixon's life may be made to the Harry and Marjorie Dixon Endowed Scholarship at Whitworth University. Contributions can be sent to the Whitworth University Office of Institutional Advancement, 300 W. Hawthorne Rd., Spokane, WA 99251. For more information, please call (800) 532-4668 or (509) 777-3243.

Dixon, who came to Whitworth in 1960 after working for Boeing in Seattle, retired from Whitworth in 1984 and held the title of professor emeritus of business and economics until his death. During his tenure, he helped build a business major within the existing economics department, eventually leading to a major in accounting as well. He also served on the Core 150 teaching team and on numerous committees and councils.

Known as "Mr. Whitworth" by many alums who were students during his tenure, Dixon was named Most Influential Professor several times by senior classes throughout his career. Respected for his economics expertise as well as for his engaging and approachable teaching style, Dixon expressed genuine interest in students and helped guide many toward successful and rewarding business careers.

"I enjoy college-age students, and like to relate to them as a whole person…this tends to be true of all the faculty we attract," Dixon once said. "Vocational guidance is one of the most important things we can offer students. But the only way you can be effective is by getting to know them…share their insights…ask questions that help them sort out their interests and capabilities."

Scott Chandler, '84, a Whitworth trustee and managing partner of Centennial, Colo.-based Franklin Court Partners LLC, says Dixon exemplified Whitworth's mission of educating both the minds and hearts of students. He credits Dixon for teaching him a number of the business principles he has used throughout his career and for preparing him for his graduate studies at the prestigious Wharton School of Business, at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Dr. Dixon will be remembered as an amazing example of servant leadership in his field," Chandler says. "He was passionate about what he taught, and he wanted to get to know every student. He will forever be remembered for the genuine love he had for Whitworth and its students."

George Weber, another beloved Whitworth business professor who worked with Dixon at Boeing before Dixon recruited him to Whitworth in 1962, says he cherished Dixon as both a valued colleague and brother in Christ during their 20 years working at the school together.

"Harry and I had a common vision that business and economics should be a much bigger piece of the pie at Whitworth, and we wanted to prepare people for a life of service in a field in which many graduates were beginning to find productive and meaningful employment," Weber says. "Harry was a wonderful guy to work with, a very gentle person who was willing to talk to anybody and to talk in depth about any subject you wanted to talk about. He was a committed believer and displayed to me and to everyone else the fruits of the Christian life."

Dixon received his B.A. in industrial engineering from the University of Illinois in 1940. He then entered a management trainee program for RCA at Camden, N.J., and later received a fellowship grant to MIT, where he completed a two-year industrial economics program. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, he returned to the University of Illinois and earned his Ph.D. in economics. Before working at Boeing, he worked in the Office of Price Stabilization, in Seattle.

Dixon's wife, Marjorie, preceded him in death, in 2010. They are survived by their sons, Dwight Dixon, x'69, and Mark Dixon, '76, daughter-in-law Virginia Dixon, x'76, and daughter Miriam Dixon, '74, who is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Golden, in Colorado.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Scott McQuilkin, vice president for institutional advancement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4386 or smcquilkin@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.