Athletic Director Dixon Farmer To Retire
Occidental College Athletic Director Dixon Farmer ’63 will retire on July 1 after seven years of service to the College, years in which Occidental athletes won numerous conference championships, captured national rankings, and turned in outstanding individual performances.
Farmer, 66, a former NCAA champion in the 440 hurdles and a member of the Occidental Track & Field Hall of Fame, plans to return to San Diego with his wife Mary Ann, where they have owned a home for years. A national search will be launched to find a successor.
“This has been a remarkable opportunity to finish in the same place I started – which makes a lot of sense for an old track guy,” Farmer said. “There are a number of reasons why this is a tough place to leave, but up at the top of the list would be our coaching staff. This is a business of relationships, and I have been lucky to work with coaches and staff who shared my vision of success for Oxy athletics.”
This year alone, the nationally-ranked Occidental football team again went to the Division III playoffs after winning the SCIAC championship for the third consecutive year; the nationally ranked Occidental men’s basketball team went to the playoffs for the third time in five years; the women’s basketball team finished its best season since 1979; the men’s cross country team captured its first conference championship since 1995, and finished 30th at the national championships; Occidental divers finished 1-2 in both the 1- and 3-meter events at the national championships; and both the men’s and women’s water polo teams played their way to national rankings.
“Dixon’s years as athletic director have been years of resurgence for Oxy athletics,” said Occidental President Susan Prager. “All in all, it is a remarkable record of accomplishment for Dixon and his wife Mary Ann, who always have worked as a team.”
Under Farmer’s leadership, part-time coaching positions in soccer, women’s basketball and softball were converted to full-time jobs, as was the position of sports information director. Athletic facilities also received major upgrades: Bell Field (softball) was completely rebuilt; a new FieldTurf surface was installed on Patterson Field (football); the Bill Henry Track was resurfaced; the tennis courts were refurbished; and numerous improvements made to Anderson Field (baseball).
“Mary Ann and I will miss the interaction with our student-athletes. Getting to know the kids on and off the field has been a real highlight for us,” Farmer said. “Reconnecting with alumni and sharing the pride that comes from seeing a program grow and become more competitive with their help has been a source of tremendous pleasure for us.”
Farmer was working as track and field coordinator at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista when he was recruited by then-president Ted Mitchell in 2000. He began his career at Occidental, fresh out of college, where as an assistant coach he helped produce conference champions in both track and cross country for seven years.
He then went to the University of Michigan as head track and cross country coach in 1972. Subsequently, he was successful at every level of competition, winning coach of the year honors three times at San Diego State and at Minnesota’s Gustavus Adolphus College, and the USA Track & Field President’s Award for service to the sport in 1994.