Florida State has a big presence in the UO's music school

Rod Dorsey, as an FSU Marching Chief
Rod Dorsey, as an FSU Marching Chief

Rodney Dorsey will cheer for the Ducks on New Year's Day.

He's known around the UO School of Music and Dance as the conductor of the Wind Ensemble and leader of the school's graduate program in wind conducting. But once upon a time, Dorsey was drum major for Florida State University's Marching Chiefs.

In 1987, he was crowned Homecoming Chief. He said he's told his former FSU classmates that he's a Duck now. He didn't say, though, that he'd avoid singing "fight, fight, fight for victory, the Seminoles of Florida State." 

"I have very fond memories of my time at Florida State, and I'm very excited for the Oregon Marching Band to see the FSU Marching Chiefs," he said.

Dorsey, who holds a bachelor's degree from FSU, is among five UO School of Music and Dance faculty with academic bloodlines to the Ducks' Rose Bowl opponent. The others are Frank Diaz, Karen Esquivel, Phyllis Paul and Timothy Paul.

Diaz, assistant professor, has a bachelor's degree and doctorate from FSU.

"I have very close and continuing relationships with my former professors," he said. "Many of us work together through service organizations and other ventures, and alumni from the School of Music are an extremely tightly knit group."

As the UO plays in the first college football playoff game, however, Diaz is a Duck. "While it was a difficult choice, Marcus Mariota's outstanding play and character have altered my allegiances for the time being, as far as the Rose Bowl and the National Championship are concerned."

Timothy Paul is going to the game and will support the Ducks.

"I am looking forward to seeing old friends and sharing in the wonderful tradition that college marching bands bring to exciting games such as this one promises to be," he said. "Although I'll be wearing Oregon colors, I must say that I am excited to hear all the familiar FSU tunes again."

At the UO, he is the associate director of bands, an associate professor and chair of the conducting area. He holds a master's degree in music education from FSU.

"My professors have remained life-long mentors and friends, and their passion for musical excellence continues to serve as an inspiration for my current pursuits at the UO," he said.

Phyllis Paul, associate dean and director of graduate and undergraduate studies in the UO School of Music and Dance, is neutral.

"I'm OK with either team winning," she said. "Hopefully, the national spotlight will provide added attention for both universities and in ways that go beyond the event — to all outstanding programs on the two campuses."

Esquivel's family is more tuned into soccer, but Esquivel says she took her Costa Rican husband — Gustavo Castro, who has a master's degree from FSU — to a Seminoles game in 2007 to introduce him to the American version of football.

"Even though I was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and lived a mile from the University of Nebraska stadium, I had never been to a live football game," said Esquivel, who has master's and doctoral degrees from FSU. "My husband and I are both musicians and opera enthusiasts, so we are maybe not as avid football fans as some. I mostly check in during the bowl games. And the whole family checks in to the World Cup in soccer."

As for the Ducks vs. Seminoles, "I can't lose," she said. "It has been fun running into colleagues at the music school who also studied at FSU and have found a new home at the UO. We've become a blended community and can cheer for both sides. I like the idea of admiring and striving for excellence wherever I find it."

Why the FSU-UO music highway? Diaz points to numbers and reputation.

"The College of Music at FSU has over a thousand students, is continuously ranked in the Top 12 music schools by U.S. News and World Report and boasts an impressive student placement rate for both undergraduates and graduates," he said. "The music education department, where I graduated from, has thousands of alumni placed throughout the country and the world, many in extremely prestigious institutions."

Timothy Paul says the UO-FSU pipeline goes back at least 50 years, including both former and current colleagues. "Regardless of which team wins the Rose Bowl, the musical connection between the two universities continues to be a winning combination for everyone involved."    

—By Jim Barlow, Public Affairs Communications