Campbell dedicates Keith Family Ballroom in student union

Keith family’s association with Campbell dates back to 1916

The Keith name is synonymous with Campbell University. Going back over 100 years, when a young man named Fred Keith arrived on the campus of then Buies Creek Academy in 1916, Keiths have contributed to the growth and success of the school. The name is found at the gates of the nearby subdivision and the renowned golf course that dots its landscape. 

As trustees, distinguished alumni and financial supporters, Keiths have played an important role in Campbell University’s history. 

Today, the name means even more.

On April 11, members of the Keith family gathered with University cabinet members and staff to celebrate the naming of the Keith Family Ballroom, the largest room in Campbell’s Oscar N. Harris Student Union, which opened in 2020. The ballroom — which can seat more than 800 people — has played host to formal events, career fairs, research exhibits, conferences, academic gatherings and more over the last four years, providing a much-needed dedicated event space that Campbell had lacked for several years. 

“So many names are etched into the archive of leadership and generosity [at Campbell University],” Executive Vice President Dr. John Roberson said during the invocation of the naming ceremony held inside the ballroom on April 11. “Kivett. Rich. Taylor. And so many others to include the surname Keith. May we not overlook a sterling example of leadership and generosity … perpetuated through this beautiful space that we come to dedicate today. May this place also serve as a reminder to all who enter it of the responsibility to be good stewards of our resources and generous in the use of our gifts.”

Fred Keith graduated from Buies Creek Academy in 1918 during the leadership of school founder J.A. Campbell, and he went out to become founder and namesake for the Keith Hills community in Buies Creek, which turns 50 this year. Fred served on the Board of Trustees from 1956 to 1984, was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1969 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1977. 

His son, Tom Keith, was a 1964 business administration graduate of Campbell College who went on to enjoy a 50-plus year career in real estate. His company, Tom J. Keith & Associates, has served individuals, Fortune 500 companies and government entities for over 50 years. Like his father, Tom Keith has served several leadership roles for his alma mater, including service on the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 2023 (he was chairman in 2017-2018). He was affirmed as a Trustee Emeritus this year.  

He was joined by his family on April 11 for the dedication ceremony and luncheon — son Alex Keith (a 2014 Campbell graduate) and his wife Juliana Keith, son Benjamin Keith and his wife Brittany Keith, and son Jamie Keith. 

“You have to give you time and effort and resources to help nonprofit organizations make their way and to help other parts of society. [For us], Campbell is the most rewarding of all,” Tom Keith said. “My dad was a strong supporter back when it was Buies Creek Academy. Today, you’re helping bring Campbell into the 21st Century with a culture that has brought us new programs, a medical school, a nursing school and more. It’s my hope that Campbell will continue to be an organization that makes a real difference in the lives of people.

“I would like to thank all of you for giving me this chance to participate in the development of this University and my own personal growth,” he added. “And I want to thank my supportive wife and three children. Our family certainly understands the value and importance of a college degree.” 

President Dr. J. Bradley Creed noted that it’s rare to have the kind of century-long family legacy the Keiths have built at Campbell. 

“I want to commend the whole family,” Creed said. “You have maintained stewardship and trust for Campbell University. And you’ve done that with your family legacy as well; through your generosity. We’ve had three generations of Keiths, and we’re celebrating what you’ve done as a family. And I know you would say, ‘Well, it’s all about celebrating Campbell University.’”

Chancellor and former President Dr. Jerry Wallace, who has known all three generations of the Keith family, called the Keith Family Ballroom a “much-needed place that vibrates with life” on Campbell’s campus. 

“This will be a place of joy and celebration as long as Campbell University lives,” Wallace said.

In his closing prayer, Wallace again thanked the Keith family and all who have supported the University in its 137-year history. 

“Campbell is so unique and has served so well,” he said. “So many have walked before us, and Lord we thank you for those who have walked with us. And we thank you for the privilege of knowing and loving the people who love this place. People will gather [in this ballroom] and they will stop and read the names. And I pray they will wonder and maybe even research who they are and learn about the goodness, the love and the generosity of the Keith family.”