George Mason joins arts research alliance


George Mason University has joined the Alliance of Art Research Universities (a2ru) as an institutional member through a concerted effort by multiple colleges and the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact (ORIEI). This action uniquely positions George Mason among other R1 institutions to support an emerging research culture in the arts.

window wall in Performing Arts Building
George Mason's Center for Live Interactive Virtual Education uses the Window Wall™ system to connect leading artists with students from multiple institutions. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

Justin Sutters, assistant dean of research and assessment in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), is taking the lead on the membership and has already attended one of the alliance’s conferences.

Sutters sees participation in the alliance as generative in that it provides insight into other research universities and some of the challenges that they're encountering. “I think this also gives us a framework to share best practices to see how other colleges are navigating the current fiscal and political climate,” he said.

In this role, Sutters will also be working to elevate the research and collaborations already taking place in CVPA with a longer-term goal of “a vibrant and rigorous supported arts-based research structure at George Mason.”

“I think a lot of the arts-based research isn't fully visible across the university,” Sutters said. “And there are a lot of researchers in our university who are seeking interdisciplinary opportunities with units such as CVPA.”

CVPA Dean Rick Davis was one of the George Mason administrators championing this move. “Joining a2ru represents a pivotal moment for George Mason's profile as a major participant in the national conversation,” he said. “We've already both benefited from and contributed to the dialogue around the fast-changing world of research and creative production in the arts.”

Among the other universities participating in the a2ru are Dartmouth, Stanford and Georgia Tech. Other alliance members in Virginia are Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.