Wabash Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work Todayby Jim Amidon • January 21, 2005
With all of the bad weather in the last month, I’ve been asked several times if Wabash ever closes or cancels classes. Every time, I tell the same, tired story of the day back in the 1983-84 school year when I learned the official policy of the College.
I was a freshman disc jockey on the campus radio station. It was snowing hard and we already had about eight or 10 inches of snow on the ground. The phone rang and on the other end was the late dean of students, Norman Moore, who briskly said, "If anybody asks, we never close."
But, in fact, we do cancel classes one afternoon each year, or at least we have for the last five years. We use the last Friday in January to celebrate our students in what has become an annual event: the Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work.
Classes are cancelled, Trustees and Alumni Board members are on campus, and the entire campus community descends on Detchon Center. What happens over the next three hours is pure magic. The students swap places with their faculty mentors and discuss, present, and perform their original scholarship and creative work.
Professors Charlie Blaich and Scott Feller drove the initial gatherings. They stole the idea from the national undergraduate research conferences they had attended and adapted the program for Wabash students.
So, this Friday, about 60 Wabash students will wear their best suits and present their material using teaching and learning techniques modeled by their favorite faculty members.
About half of the students will have poster presentations. This is the normal way of presenting scientific research at national conferences. Large posters summarize in general terms the methodology of the research and the outcomes. Each student will discuss the poster and the research it represents for about 90 minutes.
Faculty, other students, alumni, and friends of the college walk through International Hall, stop by the posters, and learn from the students about their work. This year posters will range from how some chemistry students researched the use of silicon chips for medicinal dispersal within the body to how one student spent his summer calibrating a modular neutron array.
Meanwhile, another 30 or so students will make oral presentations in 20-minute intervals. Four classrooms will run simultaneously with a range of topics true to the liberal arts. Two students will perform a violin and piano duet of a piece by Antonin Dvorak; another student will compare and contrast advertising campaigns for Viagra and Cialis; other students will present rhetorical criticisms.
It’s a truly special day at Wabash. I hope you’ll carve out a little time on your calendar—maybe cancel your own schedule—to spend time with the students of Wabash. No matter what your interests, there’s sure to be a topic of two that will grab your attention.
The Celebration gets underway at 1 p.m. on Friday in Detchon Center. Refreshments will be served, and handy guidebooks help you determine where to be and when to catch the presentations you want to attend.
Everyone at Wabash works hard to prepare our young men for life after college. Come see the results of their hard work in the classroom and out.
Jim Amidon is Public Affairs Director and College secretary. He writes this weekly column for the Crawfordsville Journal Review.