King Dixon is headed back to school.
Dixon, a Laurens civic leader, has been appointed to the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
“It’s amazing when you get a call out of the blue – or I should say out of the garnet and black in this case – on New Year’s Eve morning, and the governor is saying I need your help,” Dixon said.
Dixon, 82, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of A.C. “Bubba” Fennell on the university’s board. Fennell died in December after a long battle with cancer.
“I can’t think of a greater honor than to serve my university and the people of South Carolina,” said Dixon, a former Laurens High School and Gamecocks football star who graduated from South Carolina in 1959.
Dixon also served as athletic director at South Carolina from 1988-93.
He said the appointment became official soon after McMaster called on New Year’s Eve. He is set to begin his new duties with the board next week.
“I’m going to board orientation next Tuesday, and we have a board retreat later this month,” Dixon said.
Dixon is to fill the remainder of Fennell’s term, which is set to end in June. He praised Fennell, a 1972 graduate, for his work on the board.
He also said he is looking forward to learning more about issues facing the university during the upcoming retreat and meetings.
“I’ve been more attuned lately to legislative issues than university issues, so I’m looking forward to getting up to speed,” Dixon said. “Regardless of what we’re facing, the university’s mission stays the same.”
Dixon said he has spoken with university President Robert Caslen, who is in his first year on the job at South Carolina, by telephone but has yet to meet him.
“I do look forward to meeting him, and I fully support Gen. Caslen,” said Dixon, referring to Caslen by his former military rank.
Caslen is a retired U.S. Army lt. general and former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Dixon is also a military veteran who served 22 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“(His staff) has a mindset the same as mine for problem solving, so that’s a good mix for me,” said Dixon, who is also a member of the South Carolina and university athletic halls of fame.
Dixon said he did not know whether he would seek an appointment from the state legislature beyond the completion of Fennell’s term in June.
“I have no idea about that – this just came to me out of the blue,” he said. “But I do look forward to it. There’s no greater honor that you can have than serving your university – our university where I graduated, my wife (Augusta) graduated. Two of our children went to South Carolina, and all four of our grandchildren graduated from there, so it’s our university.”