The Outstanding Dissertation Award, sponsored by the Council for Research in Music Education, recognizes excellence in research by doctoral students. Guidelines for nominating dissertations for the academic year 2022 will be posted on this site in Fall 2023

The concept of the Outstanding Dissertation Award (ODA) seems to have been conceived early in 1980. Several pieces of correspondence between Colwell and members of the Council Advisory Committee were found in Bulletin files that indicated discussion of the idea. Not surprisingly, the consensus toward establishing an ODA was mixed but appeared generally favorable. Writing to Advisory Committee member Sally Monsour, Colwell asserted that:

My colleagues on campus who publish the Review of Research in Visual Arts Education that was modeled after the Bulletin have finally convinced me of the success of their award for excellence in dissertation research. (letter, March 12, 1980)

The ODA did not come to fruition, however, until several years later. In a letter sent in the spring of 1983 to doctoral dissertation advisors across the country, Colwell wrote:

For some time the Bulletin staff has discussed the initiation of an award for the best doctoral dissertation in music education. We have elected to proceed with this project and to suitably recognize, each year, at least one student for his or her contribution to the profession through excellence in research. . . Similar awards are common in art education, educational administration, and a host of fields outside of arts an education. Realizing the diversity of our profession, criteria have not been established for the first award (letter, April 27, 1983)

Colwell then enumerated the procedures for the process, which included soliciting nominations from a representative of each doctoral-granting institution, establishing a review panel to review the dissertations, and properly recognizing the winner. He requested nominations “…from you of dissertations completed during the calendar year of 1982. If I do not hear from you by May 20th, I will assume that you have no nominations for this particular year” (letter, April 27, 1983).

These procedures have, with minor modifications, been followed throughout the history of the ODA. The first awards were announced in 1987 in the “Late Summer” (Number 93). edition, and included recipients for 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. The 1982 winner was Richard Sang, who completed his PhD thesis at the University of Michigan. Named as “Honorable Mention” were Robert Cutietta (Pennsylvania State University), Thomas Horning (Case Western Reserve University), and Teresa Tutt (University of Oregon).

The 12 recipients of the OD through 1993 completed studies exemplifying various research paradigms and methodologies, including several philosophical and qualitative studies. From 1986-1989 no award was given, but four individuals received the distinction in 1990.

Excerpt from:

Grashel, J., & Leblanc, A. (1998). The Council for Research in Music Education: The first three decades. Bulletin for the Council for Research in Music Education, 138, 1-18.

Previous ODA Recipients