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Summer 2004 | Volume 26, Number 7 | Campaign

What’s in a Name? Opportunities to Leave a Lasting Legacy at SPU

Robert Dixon ’50 is a respected science educator who has enjoyed a full and sometimes colorful life. Example: A self-taught photographer, Dixon joined the Navy at age 21 and became the ship’s official photographer, thanks to the recommendation of a fellow sailor. That sailor was Jack Webb, who went on to become the gravelly voiced Sergeant Joe Friday on the original “Dragnet” television series.

Throughout his life experiences, Dixon cultivated the art of giving to people and organizations that shared his values. Because of a significant gift that he made to Seattle Pacific from the sale of his home, the names of Dixon and his wife will soon grace a conference room in the University’s award-winning new Science Building. The Robert T. and Marian E. Dixon Conference Room honors two of the greatest influences in Bob Dixon’s life: the woman he met his first day on campus and who later became his wife, and the college that gave them both “some of the best years of our lives.”

Marian died three years ago after more than 50 years of marriage. “I miss her terribly,” says Dixon, “but she’ll be remembered with this gift. A name above the door tells a story; it’s a way of memorializing our experience here. I consider it a privilege to give a gift of permanence like this.”

A variety of naming opportunities — including campus gardens, classrooms and lecture halls — exist for others who want to honor a loved one or cherished professor, or to demonstrate support for SPU by placing their own names on a facility. A named scholarship endowment can be established for $10,000. Naming physical items or locations typically requires a gift of $100,000 or more.

One of Dixon’s personal abilities is to make the physical sciences, especially astronomy, comprehensible to non-science majors. He has never forgotten the example of SPU Professor Burton Beegle, “who taught me as much about teaching as mathematics. He was so clear, a wonderful Christian whose life exuded faith.”

Proof of Dixon’s own teaching clarity may be found in his six astronomy textbooks and three other texts. Physical Science: A Dynamic Approach is a college-level textbook used at Seattle Pacific, where as an adjunct professor he team-taught “An Introduction to the Nature of Science.” He also taught for 25 years at California’s Riverside Community College, where the Robert T. Dixon Planetarium continues to draw students interested in the sciences.

“I want to help my grandchildren come to SPU one day,” says Dixon. “The Science Building is one of the places on campus preparing people to have a world-changing influence on the lives of others. If that isn’t important work, I don’t know what is.”

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From the President
As Seattle Pacific University gains notice nationwide, President Philip Eaton challenges the community. “Build your city on a hill so everyone can see what you are doing,” he writes. “Build a reputation.”

Honor Roles
A President’s Chapel in May honored five faculty and staff members for their individual excellence. [Campus]

Three Faculty Say Good-Bye
As they retire, three professors mark the completion of their remarkable careers at Seattle Pacific University and beyond. [Alumni]

The 2004 Medallion Awards
Alumni awards spotlight 10 Seattle Pacific graduates who have engaged the culture in various ways. [Alumni]

Attack of the Big-Screen Clones
Response reviews some of Hollywood’s film portrayals of cloning and related topics. See which ones may be worth your time watching. [Books & Film]

The Heritage Mile
Before her hip-replacement surgery, Doris Heritage and 200 of her students and friends ran a final mile together — and raised money for the Heritage Scholarship Endowment. [Athletics]

My Response
Debra Prinzing, 1981 SPU alumna, helps readers find God in their gardens. “… I think the pursuit of beauty in the garden is a pursuit to know God better,” she says.