Rebecca Dixon will retire as Associate Provost of University Enrollment next June, it was announced by Provost Lawrence B. Dumas.
“Rebecca will have provided 17 years of distinguished service to Northwestern when she concludes her career of 43 years in higher education,” Dumas said. “She has been a key member of my staff, contributing her wisdom and long experience to discussions on a broad range of issues.”
A national search will be conducted for her successor.
Dixon said she is looking forward to expanding her volunteer work as a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation and for her church (Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago) and to continued service as a member of the board of trustees of her alma mater, Randolph-Macon Woman's College.
“As Associate Provost, Rebecca has overseen with energy, grace and professionalism a set of offices which are as important to the University's success as they are complex,” Dumas said. The offices include Undergraduate Admission, Financial Aid (undergraduate in Evanston and professional schools in Chicago), the Registrar's Office, and the Information Systems Office that serves Undergraduate Admission. She also chairs the University Calendar Committee, is the liaison from the Provost's Office to the National High School Institute, and is Northwestern's representative to the Assembly of the Consortium on the Financing of Higher Education (COFHE).
Dumas said Dixon has been an agent for constructive -- often dramatic -- change in important areas, such as a steady growth in the interest in Northwestern among students from the United States and abroad as well as a significant increase in quality -- due in no small measure to the outreach efforts of the Offices of Admission and Financial Aid.
Freshman applications numbered 11,458 in fall 1988. By fall 2004, they had increased to 15,649, a growth of 37 percent. Selectivity has increased, with the admission rate dropping from 40 percent to 33 percent and the percentage accepting offers of admission increasing from 38 percent in 1988 to 41 percent for fall 2004. “The quality of entering undergraduate students has improved, with average class rank now at the 94th percentile and SAT scores rising from 1320 in 1993, the first year for which we have comparable data, to a projected 1398 for the class entering this fall,” Dumas pointed out.
Dixon also worked tirelessly to ensure that entering classes are diverse, Dumas said. A greater percentage of entering students now come from states other than Illinois, and international undergraduate students have grown from 2 percent to 5 percent of the entering class. She has also made it a priority to ensure the racial and ethnic diversity of Northwestern's undergraduate community. While the enrollment of African-American students has declined slightly, the percent of Asian Americans in the entering class has grown from 11 percent to 16.5 percent and the percent of Hispanics/Latinos from 1 percent to 6.4 percent.
Dumas said that during a period of rising costs for higher education, Dixon has been a forceful advocate for the need to fund undergraduate financial aid so that no qualified undergraduate is denied the opportunity of a Northwestern education because of the lack of financial assistance. The University remains "need blind" in admission decisions. “The scope of the University's continuing commitment and Rebecca's responsibility is seen in the fact that the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid administers more than $112 million annually to undergraduates,” Dumas said.
Dixon also played a key role in the University's conversion from legacy student information systems to the Student Enterprise System (SES), one of the most difficult challenges Northwestern has ever encountered.
Dixon has had a major a role in major renovation of spaces used by her units; responsibility for grants from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Mellon Foundation; providing material to college guide books to highlight the opportunities Northwestern; service on the advisory board for the US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities; and collaboration in efforts to expand significantly overseas study opportunities for undergraduates.