Students and faculty lined the halls of SUU’s campus with their poster boards and scribbled notes clutched in sweaty hands as this year’s Festival of Excellence finally arrived.
The Festival of Excellence is an annual event to celebrate scholarship in all disciplines and is an opportunity for SUU’s students, professors and staff to present and share the projects and research that they have dedicated the past several months to complete.
President Scott Wyatt said the festival is “The best thing for students. It is exactly the kind of education [that is] so important for today. It is not just listening and repeating but asking the difficult questions and craving discussion. These students have given me many things to think about for a long time and my life is better because of today. This is the core of what we as a university should be doing.”
The festival this year was a campus-wide event with presentations hosted in five different locations: Gerald R. Sherratt Library, Sharwan Smith Student Center, Business Building, Emma Eccles Jones Education Building and the Randall Jones Theater. While using many buildings allowed for more presentations to be held at the same time, there were some concerns that the spreading out of the presentations across five different buildings created some confusion and made it difficult to jump between presentations scheduled back to back.
According to Emily Smith, a senior human nutrition major from Box Elder, the diversity of the projects housed in the reading room of the library created a more well-rounded experience, however, she felt that by spreading out the presentations of the same subject across buildings it became difficult to attend the sessions that she was interested in. She said was frustrated that having to move between buildings combined with the tight time schedule meant that she had to miss either the end of the presentation for the beginning of the next one.
The same student expressed appreciation for the subject color-coded schedule but said that she got confused at which buildings which events were in because the schedule was lumped together in time slots but not separated by building. She felt that having presentations within the same theme held in the same building would have made the experience easier to navigate.
Beyond the placement and scheduling of the presentations, there were two different forms of demonstration: lecture and exhibition. Lecture presentations were held in a classroom setting and lasted only 15 minutes. Whereas the exhibition presentations were created on poster boards and set up in a specific place for several hours with the presenters available for questions.
Presenters expressed pros and cons to both methods of presentation. For the classroom setting, some presenters expressed feeling intimidated by the formality of lecturing in front of the crowd. This type of presentation does come across as much more official and with that seemed to come more pressure on the presenter to do well. Part of the pressure came from only having 15 minutes to share the most important parts of the research they have effectively dedicated their lives to for the past few months.
The poster presentations were more conversational, and several presenters expressed a preference for this type because they didn’t feel as pressured to condense their material. The drawbacks of this form was that presenter had to be outgoing, and approach people passing by to strike up a conversation.
Presenter Abby Silva said she had only talked to three people in two hours. She felt this was because there were so many posters around and people didn’t know where to find what they were looking for.
Additionally, Logan Ashworth said he preferred the poster method because research is never done and with the poster, people from all disciplines could give him advice for improvement. He would, however, have preferred a larger room and more space between the presentations as he felt like he had to shout over the people around him to be heard.
The noise factor was also a bit of a problem for students trying to use their day off for studying. Ashley Burr said that the presentations were a little distracting and felt that the third floor would have been a better choice to place the presentations as the second floor is usually reserved for quiet studying. She wished she would have known that some presentations would be in the library beforehand because she would have stayed home to work on her papers.
Like any major event, there will always be kinks in the execution, but the important part is what this event represents. Not only does the Festival of Excellence celebrate quality among SUU’s students, it also inspires it. Humans have a natural want to show off what they have accomplished, and this is especially prevalent in academia.
Story By Alexis J. Taylor
reporter for SUU News
Photo Courtesy of Amy Thorpe and Community Enrichment