Dixie Platt (aka "The Steel Magnolia,"—a nickname bestowed by students, which she gladly accepted) sometimes thought of herself as “Dolley Madison,” because she joined MSU’s Madison College in 1969 - the second year of the college’s founding. Her first role in Madison College was as the Assistant to the founding Associate Dean, Robert F. Banks. Prior to this, she had served as an academic advisor in MSU’s University College, with an office located in the then new high rise residence hall, Hubbard Hall. It was exciting to be part of the founding of a new College, and, most especially, to observe: how classes are created and how requirements for graduation are decided. She also saw faculty hired who would create the curriculum and play important roles in their students’ lives.
In time, as her involvement in Madison intensified, Dixie became Director of Academic and Student Affairs. In this role, she especially enjoyed serving as advisor for Madison freshmen, who were also enrolled in the Honors College. Over her MSU career, she was a part of the Madison community for 27 years. During that time, she met families and many generations of students and worked closely with the faculty. She became a strong believer in James Madison College and the education it offered. Given her love for all things Madison, she was made an honorary alumna of both Madison College and MSU.
Upon her retirement in 1996, the college created an endowed scholarship in her name that was to be awarded to first year students. The target audience for this scholarship reflected Dixie’s outlook: while she was protective of all students, she was especially sensitive to freshmen whose adjustment was critical for a happy and productive education. Dixie’s scholarship was one of the first endowments for the College, and it remains a vital part of its financial help for qualified students. Dixie is very proud to be remembered by the Dixie Platt Endowed Scholarship. Currently, two students are able to benefit from it for four years each. She is grateful for the support of the faculty, graduates, and friends who contribute to it.
After 1996, Dixie & her husband became snow birds, spending winters in Florida and summers in Michigan. They eventually settled in Sarasota, FL, in 2011. Dixie keeps active in the Sarasota arts community, serving as a docent at Historic Spanish Point – a historical, archeological, and environmental museum. However, she has not severed her ties to James Madison and MSU. She is a member of Madison’s Board of Visitors, the advisory committee to the Dean. She and her husband annually visit the mid-Michigan community – to re-charge their Michigan connection. Dixie continues to enjoy talking and visiting with faculty and former students – both in person and via telephone - telling stories both funny and profound.