Music department chair accepts position at Fashion Institute of Technology

Music Department Chair Mary E. Davis will become dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City in July. A professor of musicology at Case Western Reserve University since 1998, Davis has long centered much of her scholarship on the intersections of music, fashion and culture, including her most recent book, Ballets Russes Style: Diaghilev’s Dancers and Paris Fashion.

“Mary has been an outstanding academic leader of interdisciplinary efforts across the university and in the broader Cleveland community,” said Cyrus Taylor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are grateful for her strong commitment to serving students and encouraging collaborations with outside organizations. We wish her all the best in this new role.”

Davis has worked closely with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum since her arrival in Cleveland more than a decade ago. She has served as the university’s primary representative for the annual American Music Masters series, a weeklong series of events that includes an academic conference and tribute concert. This year’s featured performer was Aretha Franklin, who also received an honorary degree from Case Western Reserve.

Associate director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Davis also is a leader of Culture, Creativity and Design, one of the academic alliances that emerged from the university’s strategic planning process in 2008. In 2010, she co-authored a successful alliance proposal to create an Institute for Rock and Popular Music Studies in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College and the Rock Hall.

“My decision to leave was made especially difficult because the opportunities to advance interdisciplinary work here have been extraordinary,” Davis said. “One of my primary goals at FIT will be to give its faculty comparable support and encouragement to pursue their own creative collaborations.”