David Keskeys, dean of the School of the Arts at the University of Northampton, has died.
He was born in Germany on 8 February 1953. After a foundation course at Medway College of Design, he moved to what was Manchester Polytechnic for a BA in fine art, not least out of love for Manchester United. He taught at Buckhurst Hill High School in Essex for four years before transferring into higher education as lecturer in graphic design at Gloucester College of Arts and Technology in 1980.
Professor Keskeys rose to senior lecturer and then course leader over the next decade, but with the creation of Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in 1990 he became involved in planning the new media building and developing degrees in professional media and media communications. Although appointed to the first field chair in 1993, he shifted into management a year later, becoming associate dean (resources and development) in the faculty of arts and humanities in 1998 and head of the School of Art, Media and Design in 2001.
In 2004, after two decades at Gloucester, Professor Keskeys took on a fresh challenge as dean of the School of Arts at University College Northampton (which acquired full university status the year after as the University of Northampton). Although the unified school had already been created out of three earlier schools, it was Professor Keskeys' task to turn theory into practice through effective planning and the creation of innovative curriculums.
Important achievements included the creation of a campus art-house cinema, used to deliver educational content and to attract local audiences out of hours, and forging closer links with the local museum, theatres and livery companies. The undergraduate offering was refreshed through the validation of courses in fields ranging from acting and creative writing to popular music and interior design.
As dean of the School of the Arts, Professor Keskeys was part of the university's senior management team and often had to represent the institution at home and abroad. He was also prominent in the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design, most recently as treasurer.
David Jones, acting dean of the School of the Arts, remembers Professor Keskeys' "range of memorable waistcoats", but he also pays tribute to "a man of great energy and modest determination who was competitive but also very supportive, particularly with new staff. Management meetings in the school under his leadership were characterised by a blend of great good humour, collegiality and a firm resolve to get the job done and move the school forward."
Professor Keskeys died at home in Market Harborough on 16 November 2008. He is survived by his wife, Vicky, and their three children, Jaine, Ruth and Paul.