Tower Day, Other Events Celebrate Academic Excellence

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University reaches a milestone for undergraduate research and creative scholarship on Tuesday, April 13 when the university hosts its premiere CSU Tower Day.

The event, which builds upon Columbus State’s annual Honors Colloquium, will showcase the work of more than 170 students and their 80 projects covering the humanities, arts, education, business, physical science, social science and computer science. More details can be viewed at http://honors.colstate.edu/towerday.asp.

Tower Day kicks off a series of events, including A Celebration of Student Writing (April 15) and the Scholastic Honors Convocation (April 16), that comprise a weeklong Celebration of Academic Excellence. CSU Honors students are helping organize Tower Day and will also judge the project presentations for 10 separate awards to be presented during the Scholastic Honors Convocation.

Presentations begin and exhibits open on the main campus from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. CSU's shuttle bus service will also take participants and visitors to the RiverPark campus, where several activities will be held from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Activities will include a solar system walk, created by Coca-Cola Space Science Center Executive Director Shawn Cruzen, also an astronomy professor. It will guide viewers along planet displays proportionally distanced between the Theatre on the Park and space science center.

“We’re taking the Honors Colloquium to a new level,” said CSU Honors Program Director Cindy Henning, referring to the former end-of-year program that Tower Day has replaced, thanks largely to an undergraduate research and creative scholarship grant program initiated last fall by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Forty-two of the scheduled Tower Day presenters received grants. The awardees, whose proposals were selected by a Faculty Senate panel for up to $300 to help purchase books, software and other materials, or fund necessary travel, “seem to have competitively inspired the remainder of the students whose non-funded projects were selected for Tower Day,” said Henning, also an associate professor of mathematics education. “Overall, we wanted our students to do more research, and the projects collectively show we have raised the level of academic quality along with quantity.”

The participation also has impressed Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Inessa Levi. “It is great to see so many of our faculty engaging dozens of students on this level,” she said. “According to recent research, students who complete undergraduate research and creative activity projects with faculty are more likely to attend graduate or professional school and develop new, increased personal expectations about getting doctoral degrees. This data is supportive of enhancing our student retention and graduation rates and empowering individual students with marketable skills that are impressive to top employers and graduate schools.

Art major Ushma Desai used her research grant to “challenge the idea of the traditional art gallery” by gauging reactions to viewing an art exhibition inside a darkened and closed-in U-Haul trailer. Her late-November project, Intersections, involved taking her mobile exhibition of two-dimensional mixed media by CSU art faculty and students to random viewers at main campus and RiverPark campus sites and around Atlanta for a weekend.

Desai will share her conclusion in her Tower Day presentation among others from projects such as a “Poetry on Demand Podcast,” a “Computer Program on Interactive Mapping,” “Hydrothermal Activity on Mars: Possible Implications for Life,” “Mars Had an Ocean?” and “Literary Teaching in the Worldview: Bourgeois, Cortazar and Valenzuela.”

Along with research presentations, Tower Day will feature service learning project displays, musical performances, chemistry demonstrations, interactive art displays and a “Congress and the Obama Presidency” roundtable discussion by political science students of department chair and associate professor Greg Domin. The students traveled to Washington in January to visit governmental agencies and congressional offices and attend policy speeches, including a C-Span-aired talk by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen.

Celebration of Student Writing

While Tower Day showcases top research projects covering various disciplines, the third annual Celebration of Student Writing will demonstrate the writing skills of CSU students across disciplines. The event will showcase writing-based projects from 12:30-2 p.m. Thursday, April 15 on the Lumpkin Center main floor.

The event also is part of CSU’s five-year Quality Enhancement Plan titled, “Writing the Solution: Steps Toward Developing Competent and Professional Student Writers.”

Students will demonstrate how they have applied writing to their coursework, covering English composition, nursing, communication, forensic computer science, and theatre. These classes are taught by recipients of this year’s QEP faculty fellowships, awards designed to help faculty either develop new writing projects or enhance existing ones that use writing to foster critical thinking and teach students how a given discipline defines itself. For more information, contact QEP Writing Specialist and Assistant Professor of English Angela Green at 706-568-2054 or e-mail green_angela1@ColumbusState.edu.

Scholastic Honors Convocation

Closing its Celebration of Academic Excellence, Columbus State will recognize its outstanding faculty and students for 2009-2010 during the annual Scholastic Honors Convocation 2 p.m. Friday, April 16 in University Hall auditorium. Top faculty honors include the Educator of the Year and Faculty Research and Faculty Service awards, while the Faculty Cup represents the most prestigious student honor. For more information, call 706-568-2033.

For more information about Tower Day, call the Honors Program office at 706-507- 8771 or go to http://honors.colstate.edu/towerday.asp.