By Paul Schmitt
Appreciation for both academic achievement and interdepartmental involvement was fostered through a series of student presentations on April 12 at Saint Mary’s University’s first Celebration of Scholarship.
The event involved three sessions, each 75 minutes long, throughout the day in which students either presented their research from the past year or observed others’ presentations. The celebration occurred in lieu of the normal Friday class schedule.
Lawrence Price, chairman of the committee organizing the event, said the administration felt “it would be good for our university to see what other parts of our university were doing, to promote the interdisciplinary flavor.”
The biggest challenge, he said, was in giving students an incentive to participate. “Just the idea of sitting through a presentation is boring to most students,” said Price. “But I think that there was some impetus for students to come out and support their buddies.”
Among other incentives was a pizza party awarded to the dormitory with the most attendees, and extra credit opportunities offered by various professors.
Over 750 students attended the event, along with 100 other guests.
“The event was a great way to get out of the bubble of my own department,” said Clinton Nienhaus, a senior environmental biology student at Saint Mary’s University. “The sciences always have symposiums, but it was nice to see some liberal arts get involved as well.”
The celebration may have added benefits besides giving students the chance to present their work. “What I call the ‘crown jewel’ of this event is that the underclassmen have seen the seniors present pretty high levels of scholarship and they realize how high the bar is set,” said Price. “This event, in my mind, could potentially raise the entire university a notch, academically.”
Price said that, while he is not responsible for it, the chances of repeating the event next year are high based on the success experienced this year.