UNC System Honors Fashion Professor Dixon with Teaching Excellence Award

By Lydian Bernhardt / 05/23/2024 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences

Devona Dixon, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Family and Consumer Science, accepts the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching from BOG Secretary Pearl Burris-Floyd, as Provost Tonya Smith-Jackson and Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. look on during Spring 2024 undergraduate commencement ceremonies May 11.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 23, 2024) – A fashion merchandising and design professor with more than 11 years of outstanding teaching experience at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has received one of the highest awards in the University of North Carolina System.

Devona DixonDevona Dixon, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Family and Consumer Science, said she was “completely overjoyed” when she learned that she was chosen as N.C. A&T’s 2024 winner for the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“I am deeply grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from colleagues,” Dixon said. “Being recognized for my dedication to enhancing students’ educational experiences through teaching, curriculum design and student engagement is an incredibly humbling experience. I am deeply committed to creating an environment that nurtures student success, and receiving the UNC BOG Outstanding Teaching Excellence Award is a powerful affirmation of those endeavors.”

Established by the board in 1993 to highlight the importance of teaching, the award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of faculty members system-wide. Each winner receives a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize. A&T’s nominee for the award is selected from the pool of outstanding college or school teaching award recipients for the current year.

“Dr. Devona Dixon embodies the very essence of teaching excellence at N.C. A&T, inspiring students to reach their highest potential and fostering a culture of academic achievement,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Tonya Smith-Jackson. “Her dedication, passion, and innovative teaching methodologies make her a deserving recipient of the BOG Teaching Excellence Award for 2024.”

This marks the second consecutive year a Department of Family and Consumer Sciences faculty member has received this award. In 2023, Meeshay Williams-Wheeler, Ph.D., won the award for her work in the child development area.

Shirley Hymon-Parker, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, called Dixon “an exceptional educator.”

“Her teaching style ignites curiosity and eagerness in her students that inspires them to delve deeper into subjects, thus fostering a genuine desire to learn,” said Hymon-Parker. “To this end she utilizes technology, hands-on- experience, field trips, study tours and industry guest speakers in her classes to spark students’ interest and show connection of content to the real world, while exciting their passion for the profession. She is passionate about the profession and her students, and it shows in all she does.”

Dixon formally received the award earlier this month during the university’s Spring 2024 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony from Board of Governors Secretary Pearl Burris-Floyd.

“Dr. Dixon has passion for innovation to her role with the fashion merchandising and design program,” Burris-Floyd said. “With a diverse range of courses under her instruction, she takes care of her students, makes sure that they are understood. Through her motivation and her teaching, she aims to inspire. Dr. Dixon’s commitment has depth and meaning.”

Dixon said she is enthusiastic about the future growth of the fashion merchandising and design program and industry engagement with fashion professionals. In 2021 and 2022, the program received $100,000 through clothier Gap Inc. and nonprofit ICON360’s “Closing the Gap” initiative, which went toward industry trips to New York City as well as funding for laboratory equipment. In summer 2022, the program was also represented one of several HBCUs participating in a 10-week lecture series, “Tenacity Talks” hosted by fashion agency Harlem’s Fashion Row and luxury-goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

“These partnerships play a crucial role in fostering a connection between academia and the fashion industry,” said Dixon, “bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application and our student need that interaction to gain invaluable insights, practical skills and real-world perspectives essential for their future careers in the fashion industry. Moving forward, I’m eager to continue enriching our program and empowering our students for success in the fashion industry.”

“I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Dixon for many, many years, and more closely since I’ve been in the interim role as department chair," said Valerie McMillan, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and winner of the 2019 Award for Excellence in Teaching. “She holds students to high standards of performance in her classrooms, provides support for her students to reach those standards, as well as provides experiences for students to apply their content in fashion merchandising and design outside of the classroom.”

Dixon received her bachelor’s degree in clothing textiles and related arts from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge, her master’s in merchandising and design from Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. in human ecology from Louisiana State University.

Media Contact Information: llbernhardt@ncat.edu

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