Dr. Cathy McKinney, Professor and Founding Director of the Music Therapy Program, came to Appalachian in 1997, following many years of clinical work. Since that time she has established an enviable reputation for this program and for herself within the community, the university and the national and international field of music therapy. This reputation is due largely to her creativity and to the great amount of energy she has invested in her teaching, mentoring, scholarship and program leadership. She has developed and taught most of the courses in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum of music therapy.
Dr. McKinney earned her interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Music Therapy and Behavioral Medicine from the University of Miami. Her continued interest in interdisciplinary collaboration is demonstrated by the multiple ways in which she teaches with colleagues from across the campus. As a founding member of the Appalachian Expressive Arts Collective, an interdisciplinary group of faculty members from four colleges, she regularly engages in co-presenting, guest lecturing, collaborative writing and team-teaching with colleagues in other disciplines.
Classes with Dr. McKinney are fast paced and challenging. She demands a high level of student involvement, and her students respond with strong interest and commitment to the multileveled learning she inspires. She is always pushing for higher order thinking and synthesis, including the integration of intellectual information with self awareness and clinical skills. She creates an environment in which each student is both challenged and supported to develop her or his capacities to the fullest potential.
Student comments, such as the following, attest to the significance of her academic contributions as well as to her role as teacher and mentor in their lives:
"Dr. McKinney helped lay the foundation for my identity as a professional. Instead of being the head architect, she gave me the tools I needed to grow and forge my own beliefs and identity."
"Because of her teaching style and expertise, I was fully prepared to step into my internship with confidence and a strong knowledge of the field."
"She continues to inspire me, to encourage my own work and to nurture my growth and ideas. She is one of the most influential teachers in my life."
"Her door was always open. She cares about her students and their well-being."
"Dr. McKinney is both nationally and internationally renowned for her work, with a reputation for shaping and guiding some of the best young music therapists in the country."
"The impact she has had on the field of music therapy will continue to live for many generations to come."
Dr. McKinney teaches out of her own identity and integrity as a person. She models the kind of authentic presence that is necessary to facilitate transformational learning. She welcomes and encourages divergent opinions in her classes, and she creates a space in which differing views can be expressed within a context of community. Many students will continue to be inspired by her drive, passion and commitment to teaching.