The James J. Whalen Academic Symposium will present new awards for visual arts, theater arts and communications to students this year in an effort to attract more interest from those disciplines.
The 10 other awards, eight for oral presentation and two for posters, will also be presented, as in previous years. Students must submit abstracts explaining their research before March 3, which steering committee members and volunteer faculty will review during spring break. After students present at the symposium April 14, the finalists will be decided that night.
Karen Emnett, manager of administrative operations and a member of the Whalen Symposium Steering Committee, said the symposium began in 1997 to celebrate former president James J. Whalen’s 22nd year at Ithaca College. The first year, only students from the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Business presented at the symposium. Ever since 1998, students from all schools at the college were allowed to enter, she said.
Chrystyna Dail, assistant professor in the Department of Theater Arts, said there has never been a visual arts or theater arts presentation at the symposium because students don’t consider a performance a research project.
“[We’re trying to] make people realize that it’s actually not that different from [Science Technology Engineering Math] areas,” Dail said. “You’re developing an idea about how it’s going to impact society.”
MaryAnn Taylor, assistant to the provost and a member of the Steering Committee, said students will have to submit their research under one of the themes of the Integrative Core Curriculum.
Senior Candice Brown, one of the award winners last year, said the symposium is an excellent opportunity for students to get their research noticed.
“It’s a good jumpstart for going forward in your career as well as interest areas,” Brown said. “I’m glad that the school values [the symposium] enough to put time and resources into it.”
Brown, a physical therapy major, spent three years researching health care inequality in the United States, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Brown said her research and the “positive vibes” she got during her presentation inspired her to continue researching similar topics after graduation.
“The issue of health care accessibility, the issues of inequality are extremely important, and a lot of times in physical therapy it’s overlooked,” Brown said.
Dail said visual arts and theater arts have a unique ability to impact the audience and society.
“Instead of reporting on what it is you have done your research on, you’re actually showing a part of that research,” Dail said. “You’re showing the end result in a live, non-mediated way.”