Celebration of life planned for Keith, retired chair of MC’s Education Division 

Celebration of life planned for Keith, retired chair of MC’s Education Division 

A celebration of life will be held Sat., Feb. 15, 2020 for Dr. Marcia J. Keith, Maryville College professor emerita of education, who passed away Dec. 20 in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The service, which is open to the public, will begin at 3 p.m. at the Chilhowee Club, located near the campus at 223 Clarion Avenue.

Hired in 1987 as an assistant professor of education and Maryville College’s director of teacher education, Keith, who held degrees from the University of Massachusetts (B.A.) and Harvard University (Ed.M.), had experience as an elementary school classroom teacher and principal and educational consultant before earning a doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

At the College, she chaired the Education Division from 1987 until 1998 and implemented curricular changes that improved students’ preparation for classroom teaching, resulting in a boost in reputation of the College’s program.

In 1990, she was chosen to serve on Tennessee’s State Board of Examiners for approval and accreditation of Tennessee’s Teacher Education programs. She served a four-year term.

During her tenure at Maryville College, Keith also was elected president of the Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and the Tennessee Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education. She was a life member of the National Education Association, Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Delta Kappa.

She earned the rank of full professor in 1998 and directed the College’s teacher education program from 1998 until 2001. She chaired the Maryville College faculty from 1994 until 1996 and served as member of the Faculty Personnel and Standards Committee, the Faculty Liaison Committee and the Academic Life Committee. In 1997, she was named the first recipient of the College’s Grace Josephine Blank Award for Meritorious Service, recognizing a long career of service, creativity and professionalism that advanced the teaching profession.

When Keith retired in 2002 and was recognized with “professor emerita” status during the Commencement Ceremony that year, Dr. Robert Naylor, vice president and dean of the College, praised his colleague for her work to build, nearly from scratch, a first-rate teacher education program.

“The scores of our graduates now teaching across this region know she has succeeded beyond all expectations,” Naylor said. “She is an educator of very great stature, an administrator of implacable pluck and a colleague revered for the passion of her convictions.

“More than a few of you graduates refer to her as Dr. Marcia ‘No-Nonsense’ Keith as you assert that she is a ‘fountain of knowledge’ and ‘the best teacher I have ever had,’” he added.

After her official retirement, she continued her association with the College for eight more years as coordinator and consultant for a “Teaching Well” series created for Maryville College faculty that focused on issues of pedagogy.

Keith was 82 at the time of her death. Survivors include long-time friend Sarah Jacob, Maryville College professor emerita of psychology; Jacob’s daughter and son-in-law, Elisabeth and Lawrence Willis, and son Philip Vogel; sister and brother-in-law Sandra and Joseph Jeffrey; brother and sister-in-law James and Adelaide Keith; and nieces and nephews Michele Keith, Andrea Bryne, Laurie Keith, Becky Stanton, Amy Schofield, John Keith, and Brian Keith.

The family has requested that memorial gifts be directed to the Ms. J. Gail Simpson Endowed Scholarship Honoring Dr. Terry L. Simpson at Maryville College and/or the Nature Conservancy of Mount Pleasant, S.C.


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”