Mr. John M. “Jay” Watkins, Jr. serves the Gator Nation as the Associate Director of Bands, Director of Athletic Bands, Assistant Professor in the School of Music and as the Director of the “Pride of the Sunshine” - The Gator Marching Band. Prior to his appointment at UF, he served as Assistant to the Director of Bands, Assistant Director of the Longhorn Band, and Conductor of the Longhorn Basketball, Volleyball and Concert Bands at The University of Texas at Austin, where he was the principle guest conductor of the Symphony Band and the show designer for the Longhorn Band. In the past, ensembles under his direction have performed and recorded with over 36 Grammy-award winning artists in a program he developed to integrate the academic, athletics and live music communities of Central Texas. Prior to his appointment at Texas, he served as the Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Charleston Southern University (SC), where he was also the Coordinator of Instrumental Music Education. Mr. Watkins has received recognition as the CSU Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year and as a recipient of the National Band Association’s “Citation of Excellence”, and was the founder, Music Director and Conductor of The Lowcountry Winds, a professional wind ensemble based in Charleston, SC. He has also served as the Director of the U.S. Navy Drum & Bugle Corps and the Director of Instrumental Music at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and as a teacher in the public schools in North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. Prior to his work in music education, he worked for the US Naval Research Laboratory as a research associate in the areas of liquid fuel propellants and their stability and published over 75 articles in refereed science journals.
Mr. Watkins is a native of Falls Church, VA and earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Music Education degrees from George Mason University and Valdosta State University. He holds professional memberships in numerous organizations, served as South Carolina State Chair and Southern Division Chair for the National Band Association, and is an elected member of Phi Beta Mu, the International Bandmaster’s Fraternity. Mr. Watkins remains very active as a designer, clinician and adjudicator throughout the country. He is married to the former Natalie Kay McLain of Duncan, SC; they have one son, Jacob.