I liked the message delivered this afternoon by Dr. Glen Kowach, City College of New York, who was the keynote speaker at the Scholarship Festival at Mount Mercy University.
A chemist who has multiple patents for work with crystals used for electronics, Kowach told how collaboration with researchers while he was an undergraduate influenced him to pursue his own research and advanced education. As Mount Mercy University places more emphasis on faculty research, and there are more opportunities for students to collaborate in research, it was a nice message to hear.
On the other hand, Kowach also noted his proudest achievement was being honored for teaching excellence, and teaching is the primary mission at MMU.
Anyway, I’m glad that what used to be called “Scholarship Day” has grown to become what is legitimately called Scholarship Festival. I had to teach (even had a field day, described on my bike blog) so I missed the morning and early afternoon events, but I attended several events, the keynote speech, and, of course, the reception afterwards (when free food must be eaten, I’m there to pitch in and help).
In one session, Cindy Petersen, editor in chief of the Mount Mercy Times, talked about blogs and blogging. She is an active blogger herself, and showed her blog, among others (including mine). Jenifer Hanson, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, noted that a relative called her Jenion blog “emotional nudity.” That’s an apt description of many blogs, in a way, in that a blog reveals your personal inner life, but it’s also true that you need to remember any blog is a public performance, meant to be seen by the world. Kudos to Cindy for being one of the students who “gets it” and continues to actively blog.
Sadly, I missed the communication capstone discussion on advertising even though several students had to leave my editing lab to take part in it. However, I caught several other interesting talks, not all of which I fully understood (I still don’t get the whole protein thing, but that’s life).
All in all, the Scholarship Festival feels like a good fit with MMU. It wasn’t a day of prizes or accolades so much as a day of extended sharing, of raising awareness of how scholars, even undergraduate scholars, can push the boundaries between the known and unknown and enlarge the human experience.
Or, as Dr. Kowach put it, change the world.