Name: Nixon, Clair J.
Title: Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M
Texas A&M Class: 1977
Clair Nixon was born in Richfield, Utah, but spent most of his formative years in Woodland Hills, California. He was active in sports, playing basketball and running track in high school, along with being President of the Investment Club. He was also very active in Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle. He helped erect some of the first pivot irrigation systems in Southeastern Idaho, which piqued his interest in agriculture. Living close to the Southern California beaches allowed for an important part of his summer activities. He also was a Fuller Brush, door-to-door, salesman, making enough money in summer sales to cover most of his college education. His high school activities led to him being selected as one of five high school seniors in Los Angeles to meet national, state, and local dignitaries in a Report to the Nation. He received a leadership scholarship to attend BYU.
Dr. Nixon graduated from Brigham Young University in 1975, with a Pre-law degree with an emphasis in accounting. While at BYU, he was on the nationally ranked Rugby team. He played wing and center. He was also active in community and religious affairs. Following his sophomore year, he served a two-year mission assignment for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During that two-year period, he was highly involved in community service in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. In the summers after his junior and senior college years, he managed a 320-acre irrigated farm in Southeastern Idaho. He had not farmed before. It was a pivotal experience. During the last semester of his senior year, he switched his graduate focus from law school to agricultural economics. The most important event of his college experience was meeting Laura Newman. They were married in the fall of his senior year.
Following his time at BYU, Dr. Nixon attended Texas A&M University where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics in 1977 and 1980, respectively. He met Dr. John Penson his first day of graduate school. John would be his advisor for both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He was an outstanding mentor. They worked on multiple projects, including a book on Personal Finance. He was also highly influenced by Dr. John Hopkin, who was department head at the time. It was the result of a phone call with Dr. Hopkin that Dr. Nixon decided to attend Texas A&M, instead of Purdue. It turned out to be an excellent decision. Dr. Hopkin encouraged him to focus on agricultural finance. Texas A&M had a very strong faculty presence in agricultural finance.
After passing his Ph.D. prelims, he began teaching the Agricultural Finance course in the department. He went on to teach Introduction to Agricultural Economics as well. He was very involved in the agricultural economics graduate student club, hosting activities at his home. He was also selected as the only graduate student to participate in an U.S. AID mission to Syria. He spent a month in Damascus developing an analysis of the agricultural input sector of the Syrian economy. He began researching and writing in agricultural taxation. His first publications were in graduate school focusing on the impact of tax law changes on production agriculture.
Following completion of his Ph.D., Dr. Nixon taught for one semester Corporate Finance in the Department of Finance at Texas A&M. He spent the following summer as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr. Nixon then moved over to the Department of Accounting. Dr. Nixon worked his way to the Director of the Graduate Tax Program in the Department of Accounting by June of 1986. In April of 1992, Dr. Nixon became the Co-Director of the Agribusiness Degree at the University level. Dr. Nixon served as the Associate Dean of Mays Business School from July of 2000 to May of 2005. From June of 2010 to May of 2016, Dr. Nixon was the Chief Financial Officer of StarVision Technologies. Following his retirement in 2017, Dr. Nixon was recognized with the title of Professor Emeritus of Accounting at Texas A&M University.
During his tenure at Texas A&M University, Dr. Nixon received many recognitions for his excellence in teaching, including the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992, the 1993-1994 Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award, and the 1995-1996 Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Business Honors Program as selected by the students. Outside of University recognition, Dr. Nixon was also awarded the Chairman’s Award from Halliburton Corporation in 2008, the Ernst & Young Faculty Excellence Award in 2010, and the Best Research Paper Award from the 2016 Annual Accounting and Finance Symposium in Singapore. Dr. Nixon was the holder of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Teaching Excellence Professorship from 1993 until his retirement in 2017.
Dr. Nixon has served as a consultant to both profit and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of taxation, managerial accounting, and forecasting. He regularly participated in executive development programs sponsored by Texas A&M University focusing on corporate development, financial statement analysis, and managerial decision-making. He is on the board of directors of several closely held corporations in Utah. He also served nine years as an elected trustee for the College Station Independent School District.
Dr. Nixon is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the past, he has served the community as a youth scripture teacher, congregation and area mission leader, bishopric counselor, President of Young Men’s Organization at the congregation and area level, congregational Bishop (twice), and high councilor for multiple congregations. Most importantly, he has had a wonderful marriage with his wife, Laura. They are the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters. As of 2022, they have 37 grandchildren and one great-grandson. Together they have travelled extensively, visiting more than 70 countries. He has continued to provide executive education courses for Halliburton Corporation in worldwide venues. Dr. Nixon is also involved in several land development projects, with his sons, in Utah. He and Laura have recently accepted a two-year church assignment to work with young single adults in the Salt Lake City area.