New MACU School of Music Co-Chairs Announced

This spring semester marked the beginning of a new era for MACU’s storied School of Music as professors Kim Arnold and Dillan Francis stepped into co-chair positions. 

A cornerstone of the university since 1953, the MACU School of Music has produced worship leaders and musicians for generations. Now, Arnold and Francis are excited for what the future holds for the program as they settle into their new roles. 

“When we were presented with this opportunity, we were ecstatic,” Arnold said. “We work very well together.”

Because they come from two different sides of music — Arnold is an accomplished pianist while Francis is a practiced clarinetist — the pair says their co-chair status allows them to build up on one another’s strengths and balance out individual weaknesses to create a strong foundation for students. 

“We’re seeing everything that needs to be seen, leading in directions that lead to our strengths and developing programs where those strengths lie,” said Arnold. 

She and Francis have been a part of MACU’s music department for a combined nine years. During that time, they have seen the program through exponential growth — something they hope to foster as they lead the School of Music into a new era under their combined leadership. 

“As you look into church history, music has always been a foundational part of the church,” said Francis. “A lot of times, we tend to separate it out as the music portion and the Word portion. Part of our vision — and we believe this fits into what MACU does with music — is that it’s all one service.”

He said he envisions a church service where worship flows into the pastor’s sermon and serves to lift up God’s Word — and that is the type of music ministry he and Arnold want to prepare MACU music students for. 

“We want music and the rest of the service to work together for the glory of God,” he said.

Arnold said she and Francis have a unique opportunity to not only work towards a cohesive worship experience, but to touch young adults at a pivotal point in their development as musicians and as men and women of Christ. 

“They come to us already with a knowledge of music and often they have a church background too,” Arnold said. “When they get to us, we are able to help form them and continue to shape their future goals through a Christian perspective.” 

She said that as they go through their collegiate career, there will inevitably be hardships — but that MACU faculty have the privilege of coming alongside students and showing them how to navigate life’s choppy waters from a Christian worldview. 

“We can walk with them and help them see that God is with them every step of the way,” Arnold said. “Because of the bumps in the road we face together, they’ll know that when they graduate and establish themselves in their adulthood, they’ll have a foundation of knowing where to turn when trials come.” 

It’s an opportunity that Francis said is one of his favorite parts of his career. 

“We get to break and mold and expand upon that worldview and say, ‘you aren’t limited to just this,’” he said. “Too often, especially in music, we believe that you have to work in a full-time church capacity to be a Christian musician and that’s simply not the case.”  

Francis said there are many other ways to serve God as a musician, from creating and editing music to teaching music or sound design in schools. 

“We always challenge our students to go farther than they think they should,” he said. “We also teach them to open themselves up to all sorts of possibilities. I thought I was going to be a high school band director, and here I am in a college setting. You have to be willing to go wherever God leads you.” 

Arnold and Francis both hold master’s degrees in music. Both are currently pursuing their Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Oklahoma. 

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