MACON – The Board of Trustees of Mercer University, in its spring meeting, approved unanimously the establishment of the eleventh school of the University – a school of music. The action came after University President R. Kirby Godsey announced a significant gift from Carolyn Townsend McAfee and J. Thomas and Julie Crangle McAfee to endow the new school.
"The University is grateful for the deep and enduring devotion that the McAfee family has for Mercer," said Godsey. "This gift will enable Mercer to continue to develop a stellar music program."
The new academic unit will be named the Townsend School of Music, in honor of Raymond Clay Townsend and Sophia Malin Townsend, the parents of Mercer Trustee Carolyn Townsend McAfee. The faculty of the Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts will become the founding faculty of the new school on July 1, 2006.
"Mercer has one of the most significant private music programs in the Southeast region," said Dr. John Roberts, chair of the Department of Music and who will become dean of the new school. "Establishing a school of music demonstrates the seriousness of the institution's commitment to combining a professional music education with an enriching liberal arts component."
Roberts continued, "With the recent additions of The Townsend Institute Graduate Programs in Church Music and the Robert McDuffie Program for Advanced String Studies, we are poised to make great strides in music education."
With the establishment of the school on July 1, The Townsend Institute will become known as The Townsend-McAfee Institute Graduate Studies in Church Music.
"I'm extremely excited about the announcement," said junior music performance major Keitaro Harada, of Tokyo, Japan. "Since I plan to attend a conservatory for my graduate study, the School of Music title on my Mercer diploma will definitely be a boost."
Senior music major Ann Letsinger, of Knoxville, Tenn., said, "Mercer's music department already has exceptional faculty and staff that provide a challenging musical learning environment. With a new school of music, these qualities will only strengthen the music program at Mercer and make it more desirable for prospective students."
Carolyn Townsend McAfee and her late husband, James T. McAfee, also provided the major gift to the University that established the School of Theology, which bears the McAfee name, on Mercer's Atlanta campus.