Music therapy researcher named Lawton Distinguished Professor

Jayne M. Standley, whose pioneering work in the field of medical music therapy has led to new techniques for treating premature babies, is set to receive Florida State University’s highest faculty honor.

Standley, a longtime researcher and professor in FSU’s College of Music, has been named the 2005-2006 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Music. FSU President T.K. Wetherell will present her with the award on Saturday, April 30, during the university’s second of two spring commencement ceremonies.

An FSU faculty member since 1976, Standley is recognized throughout the United States as the foremost authority on medical music therapy. Researching the effect of music on premature babies, or “preemies,” she found that they increased their suckling rates 2.5 times when exposed to music, thus helping to increase their weight. (Preemies often experience delayed proficiencies in learning to nurse from either breast or bottle.)

Her research led Standley to develop a musical pacifier device that has received a U.S. patent and been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Standley’s work with preemies also led to the establishment of most of the musical protocols used in hospital neonatal units today.

“I am deeply honored by this recognition from my colleagues and alma mater,” Standley said. “As the first person in my family to attend college, I am most appreciative of the music scholarship that brought me here. Attending Florida State changed my life. I received a quality education that prepared me for my career in academia. More importantly, I have benefited from continuing mentoring and nurturing of my talents.

“The opportunity over the last 10 years to explore my research with premature infants and medical music therapy has been exciting and deeply satisfying,” Standley added. “I owe a great debt of gratitude to the innovative FSU partnership with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and to its outstanding medical staff.”

Over the course of her teaching career, Standley’s students and colleagues have recognized her talents by awarding her a School of Music Advising Award, a Teaching Incentive Award, a University Teaching Award, and the President’s Teaching Award. In recognition of her research productivity, she has been the recipient of a Distinguished Research Professorship, a Professorial Excellence Program Award and, early in her career, a Developing Scholar’s Award. In addition, she has received the American Music Therapy Association’s Distinguished Researcher Award, as well as the association’s highest distinction – the Award of Merit.

Standley has had a long and proud association with FSU. She first came to the university as an undergraduate music major and a member of the FSU Marching Chiefs. After completing graduate degrees at FSU and gaining clinical experience in the field of mental retardation, she returned to the university in 1976 to serve as director of the music therapy program in the music school.
Jon R. Piersol, dean of the College of Music, praised Standley for raising the college’s profile nationwide.

“Under Jayne’s leadership, the music therapy program at FSU has become one of the top three programs in the country, attracting students from all over the world, and one that has become highly respected in the medical as well as music communities,” said Piersol.

In addition to her research activities, Standley has directed and mentored nearly 200 graduate students in their research efforts. For more than 25 years, students from FSU have presented original research at the American Music Therapy Association’s annual conference. Because of her participation and that of her students and former students, FSU has had a greater presence in the music therapy research community than any other university in the country.

Standley’s longstanding commitment to FSU is demonstrated by the fact that she has served for many years on the Faculty Senate, and was chairwoman of the Graduate Policy Committee for nearly two decades.

The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor award is named in honor of the late Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert O. Lawton. A longtime and highly esteemed member of the FSU faculty, he died in 1980.

Full Lawton Citation