Professor Thomas George Dyer died at his home in Athens, Georgia on Monday, October 28, 2013. Born October 10, 1943 in Marshall, Missouri, he was the son of the late Israel Grant Dyer and Nina Coad Dyer. He is survived by his wife of 42 years Anna Burns Dyer of Athens, daughter Elizabeth Dyer and son-in-law Kashuo Bennett of Nairobi, Kenya.
He is also survived by brothers James Dyer and Samuel Dyer both of Marshall, Missouri, sister-in-law MaryLou Dyer of Washington Georgia, and brother-in-law Harris Burns (Julie) of Florence, Alabama. He was predeceased by brothers John Dyer and Peter Dyer.
University Professor Emeritus and Vice President for Instruction Emeritus at the University of Georgia, Dyer earned his bachelor's degree in history at Missouri Valley College and a Master's and Ph.D. in history at the University of Georgia. His academic life at the University of Georgia included teaching positions in both the Institute of Higher Education and in the Department of History. In 1998 he was named University Professor at the University of Georgia.
Dyer served UGA in numerous administrative positions including Vice President for Instruction, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Associate Vice President for Services, and Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. He was general chairman of the University's bicentennial observance in 1984-1985 and director of the Office of Bicentennial Planning, 1981-1985.
As an administrator Dyer did much to enhance undergraduate education at the University. He began the following initiatives: the extension of the learning environment into student residences on campus; the relocation of academic advisors to resident halls; the introduction of cultural programs and teaching into the resident halls; the establishment of foreign language communities with live-in instructors in the residence halls; the establishment of the Freshmen College; and the establishment of the Franklin Residential College.
With a longstanding interest in matters affecting minorities in higher education, he began in 1986 the University's minority faculty hiring initiative which led to a doubling in the number of tenure-line African American instructors. In addition, he was founding chairman of the Holmes-Hunter lecture series, which annually brings to campus prominent figures in the Civil Rights movement. The series honors the institution's first two African-American students. He co-organized the fortieth anniversary observance of the desegregation of the University.
Dyer is the author of three books, Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race (Louisiana State University Press, 1980, 1992); The University of Georgia: A Bicentennial History, 1785-1985 (University of Georgia Press, 1985); and Secret Yankees: the Union Circle in Confederate Atlanta (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999). Secret Yankees won the Bell Award, the Harwell Prize, two Georgia Author of the Year Awards and was chosen as a History Book Club selection. Johns Hopkins submitted Secret Yankees for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Dyer edited a fourth book, "To Raise Myself a Little": the Diaries and Letters of Jennie, a Georgia Teacher, 1851-1886 (University of Georgia Press, 1982).
A former editor of the Georgia Historical Quarterly (1982-1989), Dyer served as chairman of the editorial board of the New Georgia Guide, a scholarly guide to the state published for Georgia's hosting of the Olympics in 1996. He also served three terms as chairman of the editorial board of the University of Georgia Press and was a consultant for the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. He served long tenures on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society and on the board of the Georgia Humanities Council.
Dyer received the Governor's Award in the Humanities (1996), the University of Georgia Medallion for Distinguished Public Service (1994), the University of Georgia Sterling Bicentennial Medallion for Distinguished Service to the University (1985), and recognition for teaching excellence at the University (1983).
Dyer was an active community member locally, nationally, and internationally. He served three years on the University Council of Jamaica, the coordinating board for higher education in that nation. He has consulted with universities in the United States and abroad, and was a visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg in 1996. Dyer was a member of the Athens Historical Society, the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the Jenkins Club, the Lyceum, and a past board member of the Boys and Girls Club.
Throughout his life, Dyer held a love and fascination for the farm in Saline County, Missouri, on which he and his four brothers had grown up. Thanks to his tireless efforts his home and farm along with a rural Gothic church and church cemetery were entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 as the Mt. Carmel Historic District. This designation of these highly visible reminders of a complex cultural and architectural history of the tall grass prairie was a rewarding achievement for this native son of Missouri. At the time of his death he was writing a deeply researched book about his family farm in the greater context of westward migration, agriculture, slavery, the Civil War and daily life on the prairie.
Father Robert Salamone will officiate a Memorial Service at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens with a reception immediately following the service in the Common Room of the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Thomas G. Dyer Academic Support Fund. Checks should be made payable to the University of Georgia Foundation and mailed to the Institute of Higher Education; Meigs Hall, UGA; Athens, GA 30602.
Bernstein Funeral Home has charge of arrangements.
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Oct. 29, 2013
Arrangements under the direction of:
Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Services
3195 Atlanta Highway | Athens, GA 30606 | (706) 543-7373