Keith Jackson has been on faculty at West Virginia University for more than 20 years, leading the School of Music as director for the last ten. On July 1, he will assume a new role as interim dean of the College of Creative Arts.
Jackson will hit the ground running, utilizing the college’s first-class faculty and dedicated alumni and supporters to further substantiate the college as the institution for arts education and cultural influence in the state and region.
“As West Virginia’s land-grant institution, we are in a position to lead the state, and not just in the typical ways most people think,” Jackson said. “Just like WVU Medicine leads the charge to better the health, we must lookout for the region’s cultural well-being.”
The first step to aid the region in its cultural vitality is modern, adaptive education from dedicated faculty.
“The education we provide to our current generation of students sets the tone for the next 50 years of culture, so we must be forward-thinking,” Jackson said. “Just like we’ve done in recent years by adding programs like music therapy, music industry and dance, we will continue to assess current programs and build new ones that interest the next class of students and add value to their education.”
Those programs will be shaped for creatives by creatives.
“We have a lot of intelligent and talented people in this building and they are in their positions because of our confidence in their work and ability to teach,” Jackson said. “I want us to all understand the college’s strategic initiatives and then we do what we do best.”
Jackson also plans to hit the road and connect with the college’s larger community, noting the importance of alumni and supporters. It’s his hope that getting out in the community and discussing the innovative, contemporary education provided in the college will reignite the Mountaineer pride in old friends and spark it for new friends.
“Listening to, and learning from, our community is very important because when you’re away from campus, I know it can be hard to feel connected, so I’d like to bring that connection to our alumni and supporters and help them realize their stake in our college,” Jackson said. “I want those that know us to remember their roots, and those that don’t know us to consider planting roots.”
In the end, Jackson wants every stakeholder to be proud of the college and advocate for – and invest in – its future.
“As the importance of the arts continues to be neglected by many, the coming years are crucial for the college,” Jackson said. “I’m going to do my best to show that the educational, cultural and economic impact of our college is irreplaceable.”