MTSU alumna Beverly Keel, accomplished journalist and recording industry veteran, is the new chair of the Department of Recording Industry.
Keel, who took a leave of absence from MTSU to service as senior vice president of artist and media relations for Universal Music Group Nashville, returned to her roots on Aug. 1 to head one of the most prestigious recording programs in the country. Keel, an MTSU professor for more than 20 years, said, “I am excited and honored. I’m eager and chomping at the bit.”
Her goals for Recording Industry include increasing alumni involvement, improving student retention and creating a competitive presence in Nashville. She wants to step up in the absence of Tom Hutchison, well-respected MTSU professor dedicated to alumni involvement, who died in 2012. She also plans to work with the faculty and staff to create new curricula to reflect the changes in the industry.
Keel said that, although she definitely has plans for the future of the department, she isn’t “coming in with an agenda.” She will use her experience with UMG Nashville to her advantage and said the experience gave her perspective and management skills. At MTSU, she wants to blend the basics of writing and recording with a “newer business model” that integrates marketing and digital media.
But there is even more to Keel that adds to her appeal.
With undeniable humility, Keel longs to maintain a sense of community within the department and desires to incorporate some of her greatest MTSU memories back into the program.
Keel, a Nashville native, sat leisurely on an oversized couch beside her 15-year-old dog, Dodi, during this interview and retold stories about the faculty and students of the university. She said Dennis Oneal, Electronic Media professor for more than 20 years, is the reason she began teaching. She said she owes MTSU a great deal of gratitude for preparing her for journalism and recounted her intern days at the Nashville Banner and WGNS.
Keel, who lost her father just before her high school graduation, spoke highly of Dr. Edward Kimbrell, a member of the journalism faculty since 1971. “Dr. Kimbrell is my second father. I remember on one paper he wrote, ‘Ms. Keel, you finally found your voice after all these years.’ I think he is a treasure, and I feel sorry for students who don’t take him, because they’re missing something.”
And when she discussed how she was lucky enough to interview Billy Graham and attend the Grammy Awards in the same week, she exhibited nonchalance. Keel said, “I’m just like every other college student at MTSU. I’m not special; I just work really, really hard.”
Keel said she loves her career choice so much that it doesn’t feel like work. And as far as her legacy at MTSU, she just wants to improve her students’ lives. She said, “They’re like my children, and I’m so proud of them I can’t stand it.” MC
Ashley Butler, an EMC sophomore, wrote this feature while a student in Sharon Fitzgerald’s Media Writing class.