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David Keith to retire as School of Music Dean, search committee formed to find replacement

<p>David Keith has been the Dean of the Townsend School of Music for almost a decade. (Photo provided by Mercer University Marketing Communications)</p>

David Keith has been the Dean of the Townsend School of Music for almost a decade. (Photo provided by Mercer University Marketing Communications)

After over a decade at Mercer, C. David Keith will retire from his position as the dean of the Townsend School of Music at the end of the 2021-22 school year. 

Keith has been the Townsend School of Music’s dean since 2013, prior to which he served as Interim Dean and Professor of Music. He first joined Mercer’s faculty in 2010 as the Director of Graduate Studies for Townsend and has since served as Interim Dean and taught in the church music program.

“It has absolutely been the most fantastic place I’ve ever been,” Keith said.

Music has always been important to Keith, who grew up in a small town. “The way for me out of that community was to be involved in sports and music,” he said.

In high school, Keith was offered the opportunity to join the University of Tennessee’s football team but turned it down because he would not have been able to major in music. He instead attended William Jewell College, where he could pursue both, and later received his Masters and doctorate from Southwestern Seminary. He later taught at Howard Payne University, served as a conductor and adjudicator of choirs all over the world and did post-doctoral work at the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College and the University of Los Angeles.

He first became interested in Mercer while he was working with graduate students who had previously attended Mercer’s music programs.

“Where I previously taught, we had some students who came to do graduate work from Mercer,” Keith said. “They were always extremely well-prepared,”

A few years after he first joined their faculty, the previous dean decided to go back into conducting and Keith moved into his position.

“I think the dean’s position is one of servant leadership,” Keith said. “You’re here obviously to lead but you’re here to serve the students to help them to get what they’ve come here to do, you’re here to serve the faculty to make sure that they have the resources necessary and support necessary to educate the students, you’re here to serve the administration to be a conduit of information that lets students and faculty know what they need to know.” 

He first announced his retirement in 2019 and later agreed to stay in his position for an additional two years.

“No one has ever heard me refer to the school of music as 'my school,'” Keith said. “Because it’s not my school. It’s our school.”

The search committee to find the next Dean of the Townsend School of Music consists of Christopher Schmitz, Creston Groover, Carolyn McAfee Bruner, Amy Schwartz Moretti, Nathan Myrick, Julie Petherbridge and Stanley Roberts. 

Keith and his wife will move to Seattle to be near their two sons in June, and he said they will miss Mercer’s athletics events as well as the music school. 

“We’re huge athletics supporters,” Keith said. “Rarely do I miss a game.”

Having overseen the department for nearly 10 years, Keith has fond memories of his time at Mercer.

“Every person in the music school has made an impact on my life," he said. "I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to just be a part of the team.”

Samantha Homcy

Samantha Homcy ‘23 is a junior at Mercer majoring in journalism and criminal justice. She has been working at The Cluster since her freshman year and served as Social Media Co-Manager during the spring 2021 semester. She is currently a practicum intern with WMAZ-TV. In her free time she enjoys music, community service, watching TV and finding new ways to get involved on Mercer’s campus. 


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