October 2000

A Jack of all trades

During his 30-year career in higher education Jack Dickey has done about everything but sweep out the classrooms at night.

He's been a teacher, an academic advisor and top-level administrator. He's also directed student affairs, career services, continuing education and even managed a student center. Oh, and he taught in the public schools awhile, too.

Joining Furman in 1981, Dickey has nurtured the continuing education program through slow but steady growth. Within the past decade, Furman has established FULIR (Furman University Learning in Retirement), an enrichment program for seniors; Bridges to a Brighter Future, an academic program for gifted but underprivileged Greenville County high school students; and Summer Scholars, a summer academic camp for high school students. Also, the number of summer camps and programs hosted by Furman has nearly doubled during his tenure.

But some of his most rewarding work has been helping to oversee the Undergraduate Evening Studies Program. In this role he has advised more students than any faculty member, counseling hundreds through the process of admissions, class registration and graduation.

Through the years the soft-spoken Dickey has counseled students around roadblocks and life challenges that would make the worries of most traditional students seem trivial: childbirth, career changes, family deaths and life-threatening illnesses just to name a few. As his charges try to juggle an education with an assortment of other responsibilities, Dickey has remained their strongest advocate, biggest cheerleader and close confidant. More importantly, he's prodded and challenged his students to stay the course and keep their eye on the prize: a Furman degree.

"The greatest joy I get from my work is from helping people," he says. "One of the things I enjoy about my job." In recognition of his efforts, Dickey was awarded the prestigious Alester G. Furman, Jr., and Janie Earle Furman Award for Meritorious Advising during spring Commencement.

After earning a master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Cincinnati in 1969, Dickey joined nearby Otterbein College (Westerville, Ohio) where he served as director of the campus center and student activities. He was later named director of Career Services.

In 1976, Otterbein's president, seeking to attract adult students from nearby Columbus, selected Dickey to pioneer a continuing education program at the college. During the next several years, Dickey worked non-stop to establish the program, lining up faculty instructors, classes, and marketing the evening education classes to non-traditional students.

"As I became more involved in continuing education I developed a great appreciation for older students," says Dickey. "They are a lot different from traditional students. They have different stories and goals. Continuing education also helped put me in closer contact with the faculty."

Now, at 58, Dickey has made plans to retire in July. But he's been too busy of late to decide how he's going to spend his newfound free time.

"Oh, I'll still be around and on campus a lot. But I'll be walking around the lake and exercising," he chuckles. "I might even take a FULIR class or two."

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Jack Dickey


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Inside Furman is published monthly during the school year by the Furman University Department of Marketing and Public Relations. For story ideas, e-mail John Roberts, editor.