Not long before Texas Wesleyan professor of philosophy and education Ron Reed died in 1998, he created University College Day as a way to gather students and staff to present their research.
“After he passed away – he was a close friend of mine – several of us wanted to keep it going, because students enjoyed it and it seemed to be a really nice event on campus,” Provost Allen Henderson said. “Students could share, learn to present, and listen to other students and other faculty, too.”
More than 15 years later, UCD has evolved into an annual campus-wide event unique to Wesleyan. This year the event will be held April 19 and will consist of 136 presentations, guest speakers, Ram Jam, and a movie screening of Tickling Giants. This year’s theme will be Diversity: Building Success for a Touchdown.
“I would like to see everyone participating,” UCD chair Dr. Lisa Dryden said. “I would love it if we had a high percentage of our students and faculty participating, because it’s a unique opportunity. It’s a fun day so I hope they take advantage of it by coming out to as many secessions and getting involved in as many ways as they can.”
Dryden, who is serving as the chairperson for a second year in a row, said that in place of the closing ceremony this year Tickling will be screened at 6 p.m. in the Science Lecture Theatre.
“It’s going to be free for our students so I’m really hoping that they’ll come out,” Dryden said. “It’s an international film that is takes a look at the Egyptian government. We watched a screening of it as a committee and it looks really good. I’m excited.”
Dryden said the theme for this year’s event is exciting because it ties into Wesleyan’s excitement for the return of football this fall.
“There’s just this sense of excitement around campus,” Dryden said. “We decided as a committee to do something in connection with football, so our theme is Diversity: Building Success for a Touchdown. There will be four panel members (Emily Snow, Mike Leslie, John Henry, Claudia Castillo) speaking along with our football coach, coach (Joe) Prud’homme, as the MC. Following that we’re going to have Everson Walls, a retired Dallas Cowboys player, speak. We’re really excited about that as well.”
The central part of UCD is the student presentations. Dr. Cary Adkinson, who is also a chair on the University College Day Committee, said there are two types of presentations.
“In combination of having traditional face-to-face presentations, we also have the poster presentations,” Adkinson said. “Throughout the entire day students and faculty are encouraged to go to whatever presentations or posters that they feel are interesting and exciting.”
Most of the presentations will be in the Armstrong-Mabee Business Center and the Ella C. McFadden Science Center.
Adkinson’s favorite part of the day is watching his students present.
“I always try to go see at least a few presentations that I’m sponsoring and give students support by letting them know that their faculty actually does care,” Adkinson said. “To me, that’s one of the more rewarding aspects of UCD, getting to see students take the lessons that they are learning in the classroom and spread their wings by giving a presentation.”
Dryden’s favorite part of the event is also watching students present, especially first-time presenters.
“My favorite part of UCD is seeing the excitement that the students have from sharing their work, because for quite a few of them this is the first opportunity that they have had to do this kind of professional presentation,” Dryden said. “Sometimes they’re nervous and apprehensive about doing it, but it’s really nice to see the wonderful job that they do, the sense of accomplishment they get, and the confidence that it gives them. It just reinforces what great students and faculty that we have here on campus.”
Henderson said hearing the student presentations makes UCD one of his favorite days of the year.
“I don’t get to (hear from students) much as a Provost nowadays,” Henderson said. “(UCD) gives me an opportunity to go out, see, and listen to students. That way I get a sense of what’s going on on campus and what seems to be of value and interest to students these days. That’s why it’s one of my favorite days and it just represents a lot of good things that Wesleyan represents.”
Henderson also values the event because of the cross-discipline learning students and faculty can receive, which was something Reed truly valued.
“The mission of the university is academic, but it also is giving students experiences that are not just sitting and listening but active involvement, active engagement, and communicating to others,” Henderson said. “To me, UCD is a representation of a lot of really great things at Wesleyan: the diversity, the multiple disciplines, the skills we want to teach students, faculty and students working together, and students and students to working together. It’s a special opportunity that if students skip they miss a lot.”
To check out the full UCD line-up, go to txwes.edu.