By Jordan West
CLEVELAND, GA (TMNews) – Truett-McConnell welcomed alumni Dr. Jerry Davis, Mr. Bill Dixon, and Dr. James Harris to campus for a panel discussion during the college’s weekly chapel service on March 31, 2016.
The graduates of TM’s classes in the 1950s and 1960s answered questions facilitated by the college’s president, Dr. Emir Caner. He introduced the three men.
First introduced was Dr. Jerry Davis, native to Georgia and raised as an orphan. Davis uses the struggles he faced in his childhood to help students going through similar situations, and has served as a college president for over 38 years.
Secondly, the students met Mr. Bill Dixon, born and raised in Habersham County. Dixon taught science at TM and later received his MA. After teaching as a professor at Belmont University, he began serving at Ouachita Baptist University, retiring after 33 years.
Lastly, the congregation met Dr. James Harris, born in Fayetteville, Ga. He completed both his PhD and his MD. He became a renowned asneuropathologist whose skills would be utilized both in the medical field and investigatory field.
As Caner began the panel discussion, he reminded students of the wisdom the school’s prayer that, ‘Each of you will recognized that you are loved by the Lord Jesus Christ ”
Caner first asked the alumni, “If I were to ask your childhood friends what would become of you, what would they say?”
Davis responded, “I think they would have expected to find me in jail. I’m the last person they would have expected to be in the position of influence I’m in today – only God knew that.”
God’s glory in the lives of these men was revealed as they made the decision to attend TM. Dixon explained, “I grew up in Habersham Mills in a very poor family. Going to college was a real challenge.
Harris agreed, “I grew up on a farm, and always had to be a hard worker. My dad always said, ‘Do your best in whatever you’re doing.’ Our journeys are different, but it’s easy to see that God blessed us along the way.”
A risk worth the reward
Davis added, “I didn’t have any money, or any support at home. TM was an opportunity school for me that I was glad to get.”
Dixon worked at TM as a science professor, and shared a memory in which his risk paid off in his reward. He said, “I told Dr. Miller I had to have microscopes if I was going to teach biology.”
The school’s former president took this statement as a joke. Dixon continued, “He had a little toy microscope on his desk, and he said, ‘I believe I could buy several of these for you.’ I left his office, went upstairs to my briefcase, and got my contract he had given me.”
Dixon concluded, “I laid it down in front of him and said, ‘Dr. Miller, you have to choose which one you want. If you want the contract to be fulfilled, I’ve got to have microscopes. If you choose this microscope, I’m gone.’ It was a risk I had to take, but I’m glad I took it.”
Finding a home away from home
All three of the alumni went on to attend other institutions after their duration at TM. Davis hoped that he could convey that the staff at TM are, “the most dedicated, decent people.”
He recalled, “They tried to help me. It created a family environment for me here, that I think I needed. It doesn’t really matter the degrees you hold, what matters is your commitment and how you can communicate that to students. That speaks well of the school.”
He said, “I think TMC is a special place, and I am glad to see it flourishing.”
Dixon agreed. He said, in regards to the campus’s faculty and staff, “They were loving and caring people. I shall never forget Pearl Nix. She really took me under her arm. She was a profound influence in my life.”
He said, “We all have an influence, and it can either be positive or negative. We reflect that to other people, and a part of being at TM is learning to have a positive influence on other people.”
A flourishing future
As the morning came to a close, Caner asked, “What eternal moments do you remember most from your profession?”
Davis explained, “For a long time, I thought the plan was for me to self-destruct or to see how much trouble I could cause.”
He continued, “But lo and behold, I found myself in a position where I could help kids that were in the same position that I had been in, that had no money and were working their way through school. It became obvious to me that it was the calling of my life.”
Dixon added, “I think that God calls us, and sometimes He calls our plans to change.
The three ended their time in the chapel service in some words of advice. Davis said, “Faith, hope, and hard work got me where I am today, and I suggest the same to you.”
Dixon said, “God plays the most important role in your life, and it’s important to just trust God.”
He shared a prayer for those who are fearful of the future, He said, “Lord, give me opportunities. Give me sense enough to recognize these opportunities, and give me a backbone to do something about these opportunities.’”
Harris said, “If you do something you love, you’ll never feel like you have to go to work.”
Caner concluded, “We are all called to different professions, but we are all called to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jordan is a senior English major and is an intern for the Communications Department. 4Return to News Archive