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James Douthit named dean of Appalachian’s Hayes School of Music

By Ken Keuffel

BOONE, N.C.—Dr. James Douthit, pianist, teacher and an administrator at Nazareth College in suburban Rochester, New York, will be the next dean of the Hayes School of Music (HSOM) at Appalachian State University.

View larger imageDr. James Douthit, an administrator and piano teacher at Nazareth College, will be the new dean of the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University starting in July. Photo by Jennifer Gattelaro

“The Hayes School of Music is a source of enormous pride for us at Appalachian,” said Dr. Darrell P. Kruger, provost and executive vice chancellor at Appalachian. “We routinely are entertained and inspired by its faculty, staff and students. Dr. Douthit brings very special talents and a host of ideas for the enrichment of the college. We are very lucky to have him and look forward to his leadership.”

Douthit, a native of western North Carolina, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. He chaired Nazareth’s Department of Music for nine years and now serves as the college’s associate vice president for academic affairs. He will begin work at Appalachian on July 17. He replaces Dr. William Pelto, whose appointment as executive director of the College Music Society begins July 31. The society is a service organization in Missoula, Montana.

In statements made after his hiring, Douthit noted the success of HSOM graduates. He said that many teach music in public and private schools; practice as music therapists in a variety of settings; perform as soloists and collaborators; direct church musician programs; contribute to the scholarship of music; and work as leaders in the music business and recording industry.

“The Miriam Cannon Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University has a strong tradition of developing its graduates for careers in a variety of areas,” Douthit said. “I am delighted to lead and facilitate the collaboration of faculty and staff as we continue this tradition of providing not only an education that advances the career trajectories of our students, but also advances our musical culture within North Carolina as well as in the world beyond this culturally rich and diverse state.”

Douthit also sees the HSOM as a resource for the entire Appalachian community, not just the university’s music majors.

“The inclusion of music as an important component of a well-rounded education is a tradition that dates back to the very beginning of education itself,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to advance opportunities for all students at Appalachian State University to study, participate in and experience music.”

Douthit began working at Nazareth College 12 years ago, having taught at several other schools from 1990 to 2005.

Between 2005 and 2014, when Douthit chaired Nazareth’s Department of Music, the number of music majors at the college increased from 150 to 200, according to Douthit’s resume. He initiated an expansion of the curriculum that now enables Nazareth’s students to pursue a master’s degree in creative arts therapy or in pedagogy and performance. New bachelor’s degree programs have emerged in music/business and musical theatre during his tenure.

Under Douthit’s leadership, Nazareth’s music department also began collaborations with Shandong Normal University in China and the University of Rezeszów in Poland. It secured reaccreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music. More practice rooms and studios became available, a recital hall was remodeled and a Roland keyboard laboratory was installed.

Douthit played significant roles in making Nazareth’s Jane and Laurence Glazer Music Performance Center a reality. A $15.5 million project now under construction, the center aspires to be one of the premier music venues in the Rochester region for performance and recording. Douthit wrote the case statement for the facility and championed its development during his time as the chair of the music department.

Most recently, he collaborated with Nazareth’s Office of Institutional Advancement to acquire foundation grants and private gifts in support of the center. He organized and performed in several musical soirees featuring Nazareth’s faculty, staff and alumni that helped advance the concept of the building to potential donors.

As the associate vice president of academic affairs at Nazareth beginning in 2014, Douthit led the development of the Center for Life’s Work, a program that links professional career development to academic study for students across the college. He provided leadership for the college-wide strategic plan, as well as strategic plans for graduate studies and for diversity and inclusion.

Douthit holds two other degrees in piano performance, in addition to the one from Eastman. His first, earned in 1983, was from Mars Hill College, now Mars Hill University. He earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

In addition to teaching college students, Douthit has performed extensively in the United States, as well as in Austria, Poland, China and Great Britain. He is noted for his performance of piano compositions of Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915), one of the most renowned piano pedagogues of the 19th century.

Even after his appointment as associate vice president of academic affairs at Nazareth, Douthit maintained a small studio of piano students and performed as a soloist with the college wind ensemble. He said he intends to continue performing and/or offering master classes during his time at Appalachian, as time permits.

“I have always continued my musical performance,” he said. “The analytical and artistic processes of making music are the same skills that I use as a leader on a daily basis. The two dimensions of my work inform and enrich each other.”

About the Hayes School of Music

The Hayes School of Music prepares young musicians for professional lives as performers, composers, music educators, music therapists, conductors and music industry professionals, ensuring the next generation of musical leadership for the state, region and nation. Noted for quality instruction by national and internationally recognized faculty musicians, the school offers four undergraduate degree programs and three graduate-level programs.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.