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Scholars’ Day Gets New Name, New Direction

 Scholars’ Day Gets New Name, New Direction

01/17/2012 

In 2012, Scholars’ Day will get a new beginning.

Changes planned for the annual day of research and inquiry go well beyond the evolution of its name to “Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference,” declared Bruce Mattingly, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“Last year we had a campus-wide conversation about the future of Scholars’ Day, and we ended up making a pretty major shift,” Mattingly said. “We decided not to have any classes cancelled moving forward.”

This academic event has had significant meaning for the hundreds of students who participate or attend each year.

However, a special committee created to review the event last year found that less than 10 percent of the student population took part in the event, which many students had come to view as simply a day off from schoolwork. The committee learned that many of the non-participating students were using the lack of classes as an excuse to hold parties that were creating a visible, negative community impression about Scholars’ Day.

“The committee wanted to have a fresh start,” Mattingly said. “We felt there really needed to be a name change. Obviously with the new name we were drawing off the College’s strategic priorities, ‘transformational education’ being one of them, and ‘academic excellence’ being another.

“We believe, in many disciplines, that students having an opportunity to participate in an original research experience is a very important aspect of their whole educational experience,” Mattingly said.

In fact, the Transformations conference will not be held in the same place as Scholars’ Day. Due to campus renovations during that time, the event will move from Old Main to Sperry Center.

The conference was moved to Sperry Center due to room availability there.

The discussions brought to light another issue.

“It became quite clear that the campus felt this event really needed to focus on student achievement,” Mattingly said.

This year, faculty weren’t invited to give individual presentations about their areas of scholarship since committee members felt the educators have ample opportunity to present their own research at other conferences and academic society meetings. Presenting students invariably work closely with faculty mentors, so there still will be a strong faculty presence at the event.

Scholars' Day female presenter
Breanna Driscoll discussed one aspect of international perspectives on power in the modern world during the 2011 Scholars’ Day.

“We felt this event is really important for students. We want students going to conferences to give presentations, but the Transformations conference may be their first opportunity to present their own research,” Mattingly said.

The event on Wednesday, April 18, also will move to later in the day, beginning at 12:30 p.m. rather than at 8:30 a.m., pushing the keynote address well into the evening.

“That has the advantage for some of our graduate students who are only around in the evenings,” Mattingly said. “This will give them an opportunity to participate as well. We’re moving the keynote lecture from Brown Auditorium at lunchtime to the large lecture hall in Sperry Center in the evening."

The committee will have a better idea about what this year’s event will be like on Jan. 20. That’s the deadline for students to submit their lecture proposals. The College offered more than 100 seminars and many poster sessions last year.

Between the change in the scheduling and the increased emphasis on student presentations, the committee hopes the entire campus community realizes this year will represent a sea change in the way this event is conducted.

“We felt it was important to focus this event back on the students,” Mattingly said. “We’re all looking forward to it. We’re doing something new and we’ll be here to see how it all turns out.”

Students interested in participating should email completed forms by Friday, Jan. 20, to Rhonda Moulton in the School of Arts and Sciences. For more information, please contact the Dean’s Office at (607) 753-4312.

For more information about the program, visit the Transformations Web page at www2.cortland.edu/transformations/.