At its 25th Annual Student Leadership Institute on June 11 at Davidson College, the Bonner Foundation recognized Dixon Myers, Sewanee’s coordinator of outreach, for his exemplary work. The B-Loved Community Award, named in reference to Bonner's focus on encouraging student passion for leadership in service, is given to recognize an individual’s support of the value commitments of the Bonner Foundation: civic engagement, community building, diversity, international perspective, social justice, and spiritual exploration.
The recognition was based on Dixon Myers’ innovative work at the University of the South.
Coordinator of outreach at the University since 1991, Myers created Sewanee’s institutionalized community engagement program that year. Through his passion and personal commitment to awakening students to social injustice and to helping individuals and communities address intractable social problems, Myers has inspired a generation of students and set the stage for more recent developments in community engagement at Sewanee.
A partial list of programs he created includes Housing Sewanee Inc., a local low-income housing organization, and numerous programs offered during school breaks:
- Kingston, Jamaica, development of the Trench Town neighborhood
- New Orleans, post-Katrina reconstruction and relief efforts
- Miami, tutoring at inner city schools
- Haiti, agricultural re-forestation project along with a dental and medical relief program
- Ecuador, partner with Youth World to engage in minor construction projects, skits and crafts with kids, and youth workshops
- Costa Rica, partners with Cloud Forest School in Monteverde, Costa Rica, to maintain the ecological biodiversity of their campus
- New York, partners with Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen to serve over one thousand people each day
Beyond these break trips organized by Outreach Office, Myers assisted faculty in the development of a variety of community engagement classes during a time when those courses were a novelty. These include Sewanee's Bangladesh summer program with the Grameen Bank, as well as local community engagement classes in biology and photography. Myers also supported the raising of endowment funds for Sewanee’s first service internship program.
“Not only does Dixon's resume exhibit the Bonner Foundation’s core commitments to community building, spiritual exploration, international perspective, and social justice, it is the inspiration and source of many of the recent developments in community engagement at the University,” said Jim Peterman, director of Sewanee’s Office of Community Engagement.
Peterman says Myers has offered constant support for the creation of Sewanee’s Bonner Leaders program, begun in 2011. "Were it not for his pioneering efforts, inspiration to students, and constant friendship with Bonner Leader staff and students, it is hard to imagine that Sewanee would have a Bonner Leaders service internship program and an academic community engagement program.”