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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.

The program's purpose is to enhance students' ability to compete for international fellowships and for admission to top-level graduate and professional schools; and, ultimately, to enable them to assume a position of leadership and responsibility in their communities and in the world.

Intellectually-talented students meet regularly with professors as a small group to learn and discuss a particular topic for the semester. Topics this past year have included "American Diplomacy in a Changing World" and "Black Women in Contemporary Film and Fiction.”

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.

Through their shared experiences, the Dixon Junior Fellows develop the skills and talents they need to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright and Truman Scholarships; to apply to graduate and professional schools, and to enhance their personal and professional lives.

Students in a classroom
Grayson Robinson

“I really enjoyed the Dixon Fellows Program because it helped me form interpersonal relationships with fellow students and a professor and allowed for a comfortable integration into the broader Honors College student community during my freshman year of college.”

Grayson Robinson
Class of 2024

Program Details


Admission to the program is highly selective and is only open to new freshmen 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.
  • Compete for national and international fellowships such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Truman Scholarships.

Students apply for each semester they wish to participate. Once for the Fall Semester (by August 29 this year) and then, in mid November, for the Spring Semester. 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 mid November for the Spring Semester (once students know their Spring schedules). Information about the program is provided at Honors orientation sessions.

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.

Applications and program preferences for the Fall 2022 semester were due by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 29, 2022.

Senior Fellows

The following Clemson University faculty members are leading Dixon Fellows groups as Senior Fellows for the 2022/23 academic year:

Senior Fellow Department Course Title Day Time
Archana Venkatesh History

Bollywood and Beyond: The Historical, Social and Cultural Significance of Modern South Asia

Archana Venkatesh

Bollywood and Beyond: The Historical, Social and Cultural Significance of Modern South Asia

We live in an increasingly globalised environment - at school and in the workplace. In this seminar, we will discuss movies, documentaries, and written material about South Asia and South Asians in the diaspora. The goal of this class will be to develop intercultural competence, engage with questions of diversity and inclusion, and examine the impact of South Asian culture and society on the global stage. We will learn about and rethink some categories of identity-formation, including: religion, gender, nationality, ethnicity, caste, and race. Don’t worry: we’ll watch a wee bit of musical cinema, but we’ll also watch movies about rural displacement, racial relations, and the creation of gender norms in different cultures.

Tuesdays 4 p.m.
Lisa Ruggiero Wagner Biological Sciences

The Nexus of Art and Anatomy: A Rendezvous with Barber Surgeons, Artists, Anatomists and Physicians

Lisa Ruggiero Wagner

The Nexus of Art and Anatomy: A Rendezvous with Barber Surgeons, Artists, Anatomists and Physicians

Engaging introduction to the culture, contributions, connections, and conflicts that established the foundation for medical and health sciences education throughout the world. Explores the intersections in the world of art, anatomy and physiology, and the origins and development of the modern science of anatomy and physiology.

Tuesdays 4:30 p.m.
John DesJardins Engineering

Hands-On Design and Entrepreneurship

John DesJardins

Hands-On Design and Entrepreneurship

What is design, innovation, and entrepreneurship all about? How can I experience these things first-hand while at Clemson? In this program, we will learn the basics of design thinking and inventorship. We will then open up your little idea book and make your cool idea a reality. We will then work on your entrepreneurship skills and pitch your idea for real money. Whether you are creating the next Instagram or just an InstaPot, we all have ideas worth developing through the entrepreneurship process. Come with us, and lets see what we can grow together.

Tuesdays 5:30 p.m.
Janice Lanham Nursing

Cultural Competence and Health

Janice Lanham

Cultural Competence and Health

The increasing diversity of the nation brings opportunities and challenges to create and deliver culturally competent healthcare. A culturally competent health care system can improve health outcomes, quality of care, and contribute to eliminating racial/ethnic health disparities. The root causes of socio-economic and racial inequities in health will be explored, along with issues that suggest much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The facilitator will use UNNATURAL CAUSES, the acclaimed documentary series broadcast by PBS and used by thousands of organizations around the country, to tackle relevant issues of cultural competence, health equity, and social determinants of health.

Wednesdays TBD
Alex Billinis Honors College and Political Science

The Atlantic: From Barrier to Carrier and Bridge

Alex Billinis

The Atlantic: From Barrier to Carrier and Bridge

For millennia, the Atlantic was a barrier, separating the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Post-Columbus, the Atlantic became a bridge, and carrier, of biology, genetics, foods, and ideas, often at great human and ecological cost. For the past 500 years this basin, particularly its northern half, has been the world’s center of gravity. Our role will be to take a holistic look at this Atlantic World, through discussion, student-centered questions, statistics, and maps.

Wednesdays 4:15 p.m.
Andrew Pyle Communications

Cultural Competence and Health

Andrew Pyle

Cultural Competence and Health

From rice and beans to pizza, from dumplings to curry – every culture has foods that are staples, foundational to understanding life within a cultural group. In our Dixon Fellows group, we study cultures of the world through shared culinary experiences. Fellows will gather in our home and we will learn about cultures together while eating a meal traditional to the culture we are studying. We meet once per month. Ahead of each meeting, I will provide a prompt and students will use 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 6 p.m.
David Foltz English

Modern Riddles: Topics in Science, Engineering, and the Humanities

David Foltz

Modern Riddles: Topics in Science, Engineering, and the Humanities

This fellowship will interrogate prevailing totemic ideas in contemporary scientism and technological utopianism, orient these ideas within the modern paradigm and to ourselves individually and socially, and critique these ideas in terms of real-world consequence.

Thursdays 6 p.m.
Ethan Kung Mechanical Engineering

Probing Human Nature and Reflections on Worldviews Through Film and Literature

Ethan Kung

Probing Human Nature and Reflections on Worldviews Through Film and Literature

What specifically about “Romeo and Juliet” captures us? If you really think about it, it isn’t completely obvious why a story where everyone dies should resonate so much with the human heart. There seem to be specific “themes” permeating tales that have been wildly successful. What elements about these tales capture us and why? What do they reveal about human nature and subsequently about the nature of the reality that we live in? How can the materialistic worldview, or a spiritual worldview, interpret the things that humans find meaningful? In this group we will explore these questions through examining modern and classic films and literature.

Fridays 3:30 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. He died in 2010.

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: