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Mercer University Names John H. Dickson as Dean of Townsend School of Music

March 26, 2008

Mark Vanderhoek
(800) 837-2911, ext. 4037 or (478) 301-4037

Denise Cook
(800) 837-2911, ext. 2933 or (478) 301-2933

MACON, Ga. — Mercer University President William D. Underwood today announced the appointment of John H. Dickson, D.M.A., as dean of the Townsend School of Music, effective July 1, 2008. Dickson, currently director of Choral Studies and chair of the Conducting Division at Texas Tech University, succeeds Stanley L. Roberts, who will return to full-time teaching after having served the University as interim dean since May 2007.

“Dr. Dickson is an accomplished teacher, scholar, and performer. He received accolades from all those – students, faculty, staff and others – who met with him during his recent campus visit,” said Mercer Provost Horace Fleming, Ph.D. “Several of our faculty members in Music have worked with him in the past and know his work firsthand. Dr. Dickson will provide strong leadership for the Townsend School of Music.”

“Mercer is fortunate to have found in John Dickson a creative and energetic academician and performer who will provide visionary leadership for the Townsend School of Music as it continues to grow and mature,” Underwood said. “I believe he will be a great fit for Mercer University. I want to thank search chair Carol Goff and the rest of her committee for their diligence in bringing this outstanding candidate to Mercer.”

In his capacity as director of Choral Studies and chair of the Conducting Division at Texas Tech, he conducts the University Choir, Madrigal Singers and the Lubbock Chorale, and supervises the Doctor of Musical Arts, Ph.D. and Master of Music programs in choral conducting. Most recently, his Texas Tech University Choir was one of two featured collegiate choirs at the 2008 Texas Music Educators Association annual conference in San Antonio. In January 2007, the Choir was featured in the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Music Festival – “Crossing the Divide: Exploring Influence and Finding Our Voice,” in Austin, Texas. In 2002, the Choir represented the United States as the only American choir selected to perform for the Association of British Choral Directors national convention in York, England.

Prior to his current position, Dickson served as professor of conducting and associate dean for doctoral studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Church Music.

Dickson is the founder and artistic director for the Cambridge University, St. John’s College/Texas Tech University Summer Choral Institute as well as musical and founding director of the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s Oxbridge Choral Institute, a professional chorus serving the triennial symposium in Oxford and Cambridge, England.

He has served as conductor and guest clinician for numerous state, regional, and national American Choral Directors Association conventions, All-State choruses and choral festivals around the world. Internationally known as a conducting pedagogue, he has presented master-classes before the Association of British Choral Directors, the Russian State Music Conservatories of St. Petersburg and Moscow and workshops throughout England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, France and Canada. The Choral Journal and The Mastersinger have published his articles on a holistic approach to conducting.

Dickson currently holds the position of minister of music at St. Paul’s on the Plains Episcopal Church in Lubbock, Texas, having previously served as minister of music and worship at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock. He has accumulated more than 30 years of service in Baptist churches.

“Throughout my academic career, teaching has remained a high priority. Passion and enthusiasm for the sacredness of our tasks as teacher-musicians have produced my greatest joy: the countless students whose lives have been touched through a shared intimacy and discovery of the mysteries of calling, learning, music making and spirituality,” Dickson said. “As I contemplate my own ‘sea-change’ toward administration, I am excited about the opportunity to shape a very new school. The potential of the Townsend School of Music is significant. The strength of an excellent faculty, impressive ensembles, a new graduate church music program, a unique center for string study and performance, and many other areas of musical excellence are some of the reasons why I am excited to lead this new School into an exciting future.”

Dickson received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from The University of Texas at Austin and the Master of Music degree in music history and literature from Baylor University. He has done post-doctoral study at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, where he was appointed Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College.

Dickson is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Association of British Choral Conductors and the Texas Music Educators Association. He is the current vice president for the Texas Choral Directors Association college division. He is a founding board member and Texas representative for the National Collegiate Choral Organization.

Dickson’s wife, Becky, has served as a critical care nurse for nearly 30 years. She presently works at the Lubbock Heart Hospital where she serves as a circulator in the Cardiac Cath Lab. They have two sons. Matthew, a graduate of Boston University, is a professional actor living in New York City where he recently finished working on "The Coast of Utopia," a trilogy by Tom Stoppard that ran for six months at Lincoln Center before receiving the Tony award for best new play on Broadway. Andrew is a pre-business major at Richland College in Dallas and enjoys many athletic interests including basketball, football, volleyball and golf.

Dickson’s extracurricular activities include gardening, bass fishing, running and hiking.

About the Townsend School of Music
Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. The School is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. It is home to the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings. Mercer University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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