David Keith, director of graduate studies and associate professor of the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Church Music will become the interim, or rather a temporary, dean for current Dean John H. Dickson on July 1.
Dean Dickson is leaving Mercer University after serving for four years to accept the position as Director of Choral Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Mercer University’s Provost D. Scott Davis appointed Keith and announced the appointment of a search committee to assist with the recruitment of a permanent leader for the school.
In a press release earlier this semester Keith said, “I am excited about this opportunity to work with an extremely competent faculty and excellent students during this time of transition. John Dickson has done a marvelous job as dean, and I see no reason that we will not continue to move along the path of establishing the Townsend School of Music as one of the leading places for musical education in the country.”
Davis said in the same press release, “I am grateful that Dr. Keith has agreed to serve as interim dean of the Townsend School of Music. David has worked tirelessly to advance the School of Music, and I am confident he will provide great leadership and continue to move the School forward as we search for a permanent dean.”
Stanley Roberts, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies, along with five other faculties within the Townsend School of Music form the search committee.
The committee will place an advertisement throughout the country, in journals for music, until a dean is found. A meeting will be held with the Provost and committee to begin the search process this week.
The Dean of Music serves as the chief administrator who handles the budget, strategic planning, and supervises the development of the curriculum for the school of music. In this position, the Dean oversees fifteen full-time faculty members, give or take twenty adjunct members.
Townsend School of Music recently hired two new members to their faculty. Jack Mitchener is the Professor of Orchestra from Oberlin College and Conservatory and Ward Stare is the Director of Orchestra and is a world-class director featured in Musical America, an American magazine on classical music.
Before stepping down from his position, Dickson plans to finish some projects. Dickson wants to finish the Townsend School of Music’s website and speak with donors for additional funding. He also plans to work on the calendar of concerts for next season.
Dickson said that Mercer University has “a world-class center for strings,” which is what makes the Townsend School of Music similar to conservatories such as Julliard School or Oberlin College and Conservatory.
Mercer University is a small, private school compared to many music schools in the nation.
The total population of students is about 100 music majors with 85 of them as undergraduate.
Dickson said the size of the music school is “able to have outstanding ensembles, but small enough to give conservatory training.”