|Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree to Frank E. Dimmock
May 17, 2010
Today, Davidson College lifts up a man who has dwelt among and cared for the men, women, and especially the children of sub-Saharan Africa for the past three decades; a practical visionary who has joined faith, intellect, and relentless compassion to strengthen communities and improve countless lives.
A native Tarheel, Frank Dimmock graduated from North Carolina State University in 1978 and immediately began his career as a missionary health-care volunteer in Zaire. He returned to Tulane University to pursue a master's degree in pubic health, epidemiology, and tropical medicine, which has served him well in a lifetime of missionary work.
A conduit of ideas, Frank Dimmock has used cross-pollination to disseminate knowledge and experience among the countries he serves. As the first Africa Health Liaison of the Presbyterian Church (USA), working primarily in the Congo, Malawi, Zambia, and Lesotho, he has founded and served numerous Christian Health Associations and networks in those and five other African countries.
His work cannot be easily summarized. His contributions, while fueled by a deep Christian spirit, are most certainly of the body and mind. He has tirelessly consulted, coordinated, collaborated, synthesized, organized, and invented to address vast problems of health, social welfare, poverty, and famine. Seeking long-term sustainable solutions, he has helped to modernize and maximize the efficiency and fairness of health-care delivery in Africa. His career has spanned the dawn and spread of HIV and AIDS, and his work in primary health care has naturally evolved to focus on its consequences, particularly the children who are left impoverished, affected, and infected by the disease.
To pluck just one fruit from the tree of his labors: he developed the idea of "Health Passports," personal, portable health records for adults and small children. These small books contain preventative health information, as well as blank pages on which health-care providers can describe illness and record treatment. Along with other Dimmock innovations, the health passports have literally revolutionized public health in Sub-Saharan Africa, empowering patients, reducing unnecessary tests or treatments, giving health providers quick access to a patient's history, and simply saving lives.
From the very first day of Frank Dimmock's African mission, Nancy Dimmock has been his active partner, caring for vulnerable children and families in their adopted communities and nurturing their own family of eight children.
BECAUSE, as a humble servant of God, you have tirelessly loved and encouraged the most defenseless people of Africa, offering steady testimony to a central lesson of Jesus, "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me;" and
BECAUSE you have used your powers of insight and passion to connect people and organizations in support of those who are unwell or without a home; and
BECAUSE you have combined quiet listening with open-hearted thinking and collaborative action, demonstrating a deeply rooted respect for those with whom and for whom you work; and
BECAUSE, with a number of close ties to Davidson, you have used your gifts of education and leadership to create organization from chaos, compassion from frustration, and health from disease, in service of those the world forgets;
NOW THEREFORE, on this 16th day of May in the year 2010, Davidson College honors you, Frank Eugene Dimmock, and names you Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.