Funding the Pipeline for Minorities in Engineering

January 13, 2017

EE alumnus, Robert L. Dixon Jr., is helping underrepresented minority students attend Tech

Robert L. Dixon, Jr., (BS EE ’77) served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at PepsiCo, Inc. from December 2007 until April 2016. He recently retired from PepsiCo in December 2016. Robert came to PepsiCo with a proven record of accomplishment as a leader, having served on the executive staff of Procter & Gamble. He currently serves on the Anthem Healthcare Board as an independent director.

However, Robert has another mission going into retirement, a commitment to enhance the College of Engineering and STEM education at Georgia Tech. Robert and his wife, Sheree, recently made a $100,000 gift to the Dean’s Opportunity Fund in the College of Engineering to help advance the overall mission of the university.

“It’s an honor to support Dean May and the College of Engineering. They develop outstanding students and pursue incredible research. Sheree and I are happy to help,” said Dixon.

The Dean’s Opportunity Fund assists underrepresented minority and women students in attending or remaining at Georgia Tech to complete their education. According to Gary S. May, dean of the College, “We have found in a number of instances that a small amount of money can mean the difference in a student choosing to attend Tech. With so many of our peers recruiting the same students, gifts like the one from Robert and Sheree can help make us more competitive when seeking to diversify our student body.” May also said that “sometimes financial hardships make it difficult for a student to remain at Tech. These discretionary funds also allow us to step in and offer support when needed so a promising student can stay enrolled. You would be surprised at the difference even $1,000 can make in attracting or retaining a student.”

Dixon has a sustained record of giving to Tech in support of the College. Previous gifts have included the ECE building renovation fund, the Alumni Association’s Roll Call, and the Esogbue Endowment for Academic Excellence (named for Augustine Esogbue, the university’s first black engineering professor.) “While at Tech, Dr. Esogbue was quite inspirational for me,” said Dixon. In addition, Dixon has set up an endowment in support of the Minority Undergraduate Research Program.

In an interview that appeared on STEMblog in November of 2015, Dixon talked about STEM education. “It is impossible to understate the importance of STEM education and professions to our global economic health and our wellbeing as citizens of the world,” said Dixon. “In today’s dynamic environment, we depend on science, technology, engineering and mathematics to survive and thrive. As an engineer and information technology executive, I am personally and professionally passionate about STEM. It is my honor to advocate for STEM programs on behalf of future generations.”

Over the years, Dixon has provided a total of $300,000 in support of people and programs at Georgia Tech. He has known Dean May for almost 15 years and that relationship helped steer his commitment to provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities in engineering.

Dixon served on the President’s Advisory Board of the Georgia Institute of Technology from 2003 to 2009 and is currently on the College of Engineering’s External Advisory Board. He was inducted into The Georgia Institute of Technology's Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni in 2002 and will be inducted into the College of Engineering Alumni Hall of Fame in April of 2017.

“I take my responsibility to increase STEM education and careers globally very seriously,” said Dixon. “I have dedicated, and will continue to dedicate, personal and professional resources to ensure that we are developing young professionals with the power, vision and skills to improve our world.”

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