Dr. Thaxter Dickey is leading His way

December 13, 2010

In 1981 Dr. Thaxter Dickey taught his first Florida College psychology course—stepping in for Doug Burgess, who was recovering from a stroke. A year later he took over Roscoe Knight’s psychology course.

“And after all these years, that’s still my claim to fame,” says Dickey. “I’m the only one who could replace both Roscoe Knight and Doug Burgess.”

Dickey is still teaching the same subject, as well as economics, honors reading, and several other social sciences courses. He is the campus authority on the human mind, and one of the school’s most revered professors.

Dickey grew up in both Waynesboro, Ga., and Ocala, Fla. His “happy” childhood was the result of loving parents who placed an emphasis on family, something he hopes he has done with his own household.

Ten years out of college, Dickey was inspired to pursue a career in organizational training. He went back to school for a degree in industrial/organizational psychology, with the intent of landing a job in a large corporation.

And then along came Florida College.

Initially Dickey thought of his teaching post at FC as a temporary job to get him through his doctorate work. And though several opportunities arose over the years for him to pursue work elsewhere, he decided to stay.

“I can’t imagine how much poorer our lives would have been without Florida College,” he says resolutely.

Dickey has instructed nearly three decades of students (“I can count at least twelve former students who now work for the College”), and seen many things change—and just as many stay the same.

“Lately there has been a change in the way students learn,” he says. “They are used to multitasking and hyperlinking, and so it is harder to keep them focused on a lecture. But some of them are even more knowledgeable and capable than ever.

“In all of this I think the essence of the College is the same—the same whirl of extracurricular activities, the same spiritual commitment, and the same close fellowship among the students.”

Dickey compares his role as professor to that of a father. There are always frustrations, but the character of FC students continues to validate his decision to teach here.

“More than teaching facts,” Dickey’s overriding goal as a professor is to “teach [students] to think, to ask good questions, and provide them the skills to explore the answers to those questions.”

“It always has to be the Bible first,” he continues, “and then other disciplines. I like to think that even if I do not explicitly mention the Bible in any one lecture, that it has guided the whole.”

Thirty years of practicing this philosophy is one of many ways that Dr. Dickey is leading His way.