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CU Honors College

Dixon Fellows Program

Engage With Leading Clemson faculty

Founded in 1996, the Joseph E. and Caroline G. Dixon Fellows Program brings together some of Clemson University's best students and faculty to form a unique community dedicated to intellectual, cultural, and personal learning and growth.

Intellectually-talented students meet regularly with professors as a small group to learn and discuss a particular topic for the semester. Topics vary each semester, based on the Senior Fellows' interests and backgrounds. 

About the Program

At the heart of the Dixon Fellows experience is the mentor group, a small number of students (the Junior Fellows) meeting together with a professor (Senior Fellow) who acts as role-model, mentor, and guide.

These small groups meet regularly throughout the semester to engage in a variety of formal and informal programs and events, each designed to encourage discussion and conversation, and to enable the Junior Fellows to learn from the Senior Fellows, from invited guests, and from each other.

The Dixon Fellows are also invited to a number of special events—including lectures, receptions, and performances—involving the entire group. They are also able to participate in specialized seminars and workshops on a variety of practical matters, such as how to obtain an internship or how to prepare for an interview.

Students standing around a kitchen table as Dr. Pyle takes a selfie

Program Details


Admission to the program is highly selective and is only open to new first year and current Clemson Honors students with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4.

Dixon Junior Fellows are selected on the basis of academic excellence, commitment to public service, leadership potential, and personal integrity. They form a community of Clemson University’s most exceptional students.

Junior Fellows are expected to:

  • Take their formal studies seriously, yet maintain a strong interest in the world of learning outside the classroom. This includes regular attendance to their Dixon Fellows group if selected.
  • Complete a 500 word reflection on the program they attended and what value they derived from it. 
  • Expand their educational horizons to include a broader exposure to foreign cultures, the arts, and the life of the mind.
  • Assume leadership roles at Clemson University, and to participate in a wide range of public service activities at Clemson and in the larger community.

Students apply for each semester they wish to participate. The program has changed to a semester-long program in order to allow students the option to participate in more than one program, and because academic and work schedules change from one semester to the other.

Application Process

Applications are submitted online in late August for the Fall Semester and in December/early January for the Spring Semester (once students know their Spring schedules). Information about the program is provided at Honors orientation sessions and in the weekly newsletter to students.

A complete application consists of:

  • The "Personal Information section" completely filled out, including your preferred course options.
  • A 100 to 200 word essay about why would you like to become a Dixon Fellow and how you are prepared to actively contribute to the success of the program. 
  • A brief certification that you are able to attend the program during the time allotted and that you will comply with program requirements, including attendance and meaningful participation.


Senior Fellows

The following Clemson University faculty members are leading Dixon Fellows groups as Senior Fellows:

Senior Fellow Department Course Title Day Time
Archana Venkatesh Philosophy and Religion

Beyond Football: Sports and the Making of the Modern World

Archana Venkatesh

Beyond Football: Sports and the Making of the Modern World

We’re all familiar with this feeling: our sports team lost, and we feel despair. Why do we care so much about sports? Why are they such an important part of our social, cultural and personal lives? What is the larger narrative sports help us be a part of?

While we live on a football campus, this feeling is not always about football. This semester, let’s dive into the amazing life of the soccer player from the Ivory Coast who tried to stop a civil war (no joke – it actually worked), the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ from the Caribbean who struck fear into their former colonial oppressors – on the cricket field; the first time the Olympics ACTUALLY made money; how the Cold War may have been played across a chessboard; and how a massively underfunded women’s soccer team electrified the world and changed our relationship with the sport. We’ll watch movies, documentaries, and read about how sports is – as Larry King and the Pope said on separate occasions – “the most important unimportant thing in the world.”

Tuesdays 3-4:30 p.m.
Mashal Saif Philosophy and Religion

Islam and the West: A Journey through Representations

Mashal Saif

Islam and the West: A Journey through Representations

Islam and the West have often been presented as binary opposites in conflict with one another. What images and representations of Islam and Muslims in the Western media help to sustain this perceived opposition? And does this Western lens of viewing Islam & Muslims stand up to academic scrutiny and/or resonate with a factual analysis of Islam and Muslims?

Fridays 11:15 a.m.
Eliza Gallagher and Neil Calkin Engineering and Science Education; Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Bread, Noodles, and Rice: How Cultures Take Staples and Give Them Flavor and Meaning

Eliza Gallagher and Neil Calkin

Bread, Noodles, and Rice: How Cultures Take Staples and Give Them Flavor and Meaning

Many cultures have staples around which a cuisine develops. In this program, we use bread, noodles, and rice as a focal point to investigate the interactions between trade, colonization, and cuisine. Each meeting will include a meal and a discussion of social, historical, and economic forces that influenced the region from which that meal is drawn. Food will be prepared in a home kitchen. There is no expectation that everyone partake of every dish, but some dishes may not be appropriate for those with significant dietary or cultural food restrictions. The household includes cats.

First Tuesday of every month 6-9 p.m.
John DesJardins Engineering

Hands-On Design and Entrepreneurship

John DesJardins

Hands-On Design and Entrepreneurship

Do you have an idea, invention, or product that you have always wanted to make, develop, or market? In this two semester program, we will explore and experience the invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship process. We will meet weekly or bi-weekly to learn, experience, and enjoy each other’s ideas and progress. We will develop and refine your idea, we will make it, and we will pitch it at local competitions for real cash. Not ready for the stage, no worries, we will also help others in the program do the same, and contribute to the innovation and entrepreneurial network on campus and in the community.

Tuesdays 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Alexander Billinis Honors College and Political Science

America at 250 (4 spaces open for Spring 2023)

Alexander Billinis

America at 250

A critical thinking seminar about the United States at the cusp of our 250th anniversary.

Mondays 6:45 p.m.
Andrew Pyle Communications

Exploring Cultures of the World Through their Food

Andrew Pyle

Exploring Cultures of the World Through Their Food

From rice and beans to dumplings, every culture has foods that are foundational to understanding life within that culture. Our Dixon Fellows study cultures of the world through shared culinary experiences – Fellows will gather in our home and learn about cultures together while eating a meal traditional to that culture. We meet once per month. Ahead of each meeting, I will provide a prompt and students will use that to find out something about the culture we are studying. Fellows will come to the meeting with something to share with the group, and we will learn together while we eat.

Thursdays 5:30-7 p.m.
David Foltz English

Dixon Book Club (4 spaces open for Spring 2023)

David Foltz

Dixon Book Club

We meet every other week or so to discuss assigned readings (I'll choose some but you can, too). Don't worry, "book" club doesn't necessarily mean reading whole books; most readings will be relatively short, though not in significance. Discussions are informal – we’ll meet and converse over coffee or supper. However, our aim is purposeful, attentive engagement with the texts and each other. Consequently, commitment – i.e., regular reading and participation – are expected. Texts and topics are literary, philosophical, theological, historical, etc. If you’re looking for a reading home and/or practice cultivating sustained, intellectual conversation, join us.

Thursdays 6 p.m.

Joseph E. and Caroline G. Dixon

Joseph E. Dixon

Joseph and Caroline Dixon

Joseph E. Dixon was born in 1917 in Dillon, South Carolina, son of Harry Edmiston Dixon and Nina David Dixon. He grew up in South Carolina and attended elementary through high school in Columbia.

At Clemson University, from which he graduated in 1939, Mr. Dixon lettered in varsity boxing and earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree. In October 1940, he was called into the service and during his six and one half years in the Army, served in the Pacific and European theaters and was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Infantry Major.

After returning home from World War II in 1946, he began working in Philadelphia as a sales representative for World Book Encyclopedia, part of Field Enterprises, Inc.  During his over thirty-five years with World Book, he was sales manager for South Carolina and part of Georgia. For eleven out of twelve years, 1968-1979, the branch under his management led the eighty-four branches in the United States and Canada in total sales. He concluded his World Book career as Senior Vice President in charge of sales for the Eastern United States and Canada.

Mr. Dixon was a member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon and Boy Scout leader. Mr. Dixon passed away in 2010.

Caroline Goggans Dixon

Caroline Goggans Dixon was born in Columbia, daughter of the late James Furman Goggans and Isoline Wyche Goggans. After graduating from old Columbia High School, she attended Hollins College and graduated from the University of South Carolina. Not only did she do substantial work as a community volunteer, but she was also a major source of support in the course of Mr. Dixon's career with World Book Encyclopedia. Her work as a community volunteer included serving as president of The Junior League of Columbia and as treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Historic Columbia Foundation.

Mrs. Dixon was one of a six-member committee that directed and carried out the campaign to raise funds necessary to save the endangered Robert Mills House in 1962 and later received the Historic Columbia Foundation Award for Distinguished Achievement in Historic Preservation. A longtime supporter of the Columbia and Metropolitan Opera guilds, she was also a member of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America and of The Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia. Mrs. Dixon passed away in 2000. She and Mr. Dixon are survived by two children and two grandchildren.

Find Out More

If you are interested in hearing more about the Dixon Fellows program, would like to make a suggestion or comment, you may contact us using the information below.

Dixon Fellows Program

Alexander Billinis, Program Coordinator
180 Cribb Hall
Clemson, SC 29634-5106

Program email: