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Florida State University

Florida State ranked no. 3 in nation for contributions to arts research

Don Gibson
Sally McRorie

The Florida State University is one of the nation's most prolific research institutions in the arts, according to rankings recently released by Science Watch that place Florida State third among the universities with the most published papers in the field of performing arts between 2003 and 2007.

Science Watch conferred that No. 3 rank on Florida State University after surveying more than 6,000 articles from more than 240 of the leading scholarly journals in the arts. Other institutions ranked in the top five are City University of New York, New York University and Indiana University (tie), Columbia University and the University of Texas-Austin.

It's no secret that the arts have long enjoyed an outstanding national reputation and been integral to the history and culture at Florida State. Still, FSU's College of Music Dean Don Gibson and Dean Sally McRorie, who heads the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance, say it's nice to get it in writing from such an objective, respected source as Science Watch ( Distributed by Thomson Reuters, Science Watch gathers and analyzes data on scientists, journals and institutions to track basic research trends and performances.

"These rankings provide further evidence that Florida State University's music programs rank at the very top tier of music programs across the country and stand out as among the most forward-looking regarding research in many scholarly music disciplines," Gibson said. "The third-place ranking is particularly impressive in music, a discipline represented by over 600 accredited departments, schools and colleges throughout the United States."

To support its No. 3 rank for Florida State, Science Watch produced a list of 71 journal articles written by faculty from various FSU arts programs. Of those articles, 56 were from music journals and 15 were from journals dealing with dance, drama/theater, film/literature and arts management.

Among the published papers in music journals, many cover highly specific topics that show Florida State's music programs at the cutting edge of research in the areas of music education, music therapy, ethnomusicology and music theory. What's more, music therapy articles submitted by FSU College of Music researchers were cited more often than those written by faculty at any other institution. In music education, the Science Watch findings corroborate information recently published in the Journal of Research in Music Education — the lead publication for scholarly inquiry in the music education profession — that identified the College of Music as the single most influential institution for research in music education. And in ethnomusicology and music theory, topics of College of Music articles mentioned include examinations of music and healing in other cultures, using music with special-needs students, and classical music analysis.

The FSU College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance also played a significant role in the Science Watch national rankings, McRorie said.

"This latest ranking encompasses a broad swath of the performing arts realm at Florida State, an area of historic and continuing strength derived from the combined impact of our top-tier music, dance and theatre programs," McRorie said. "In the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance, along with the national recognition earned by faculty and students for creating and performing the arts, we also have an amazing array of top researchers in the history and criticism of the arts as well as those who explore related educational and therapeutic applications."

Serious research isn't limited to studying old masters or ancient art forms, she said. Among the publications cited in the Science Watch ranking was a paper by Professor Sally Sommer of the FSU School of Dance that investigated contemporary Salsa dancing.

"The Salsa dance form has been called a perfect dance for the 21st century because it is the product of the fusions of peoples, languages, music, movement and styles that define the times," McRorie said. "'Salsa' literally means 'sauce,' a spicy mixture that gives flavor. The Florida State University is noted for the same kinds of fusions growing from our commitment to the performing and other arts. The whole campus, community and indeed the world are energized, spiced up so to speak, by our creation, performance and research in the arts."

Despite budget reductions and related changes at the institution, Gibson and McRorie proudly point to The Florida State University's enduring commitment to the arts.

"The quantity and quality of articles on the performing arts that produced this top national ranking are among the research initiatives that reflect that commitment," McRorie said.

By Libby Fairhurst


"The whole campus, community and indeed the world are energized, spiced up so to speak, by our creation, performance and research in the arts."

Sally McRorie
Dean, Florida State University College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance