An evening of tremendous generosity and heart-felt gratitude took place at the University of La Verne’s 2014 Scholarship Gala on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Hosted at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference...
La Verne faculty present their work done outside the classroom to their students and to their colleagues on a day set aside to celebrate research.
Have you ever wondered about the reading habits of incarcerated youth? Are you curious about the nest defense behavior of Red-Winged Blackbirds? Have you thought about the role of technology in learning?
It’s no secret that La Verne faculty and students are engaged in interesting research involving a dizzying array of topics, but much of that work is done alone or with a small number of partners. Recently, faculty and staff had the opportunity to share and discuss what they are doing at an event aimed at showcasing the university’s commitment to research.
The Seventh Annual Research and Professional Activity Day: A Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, held at the Campus Center, was an informal opportunity to find out about the wide variety of research taking place on campus.
Students and faculty shared ideas and walked around, looking at numerous displays, manuscripts, articles and pieces of art. In all, the work of 167 presenters – 98 faculty/administrators and 69 students – was represented. Everyone who left the room walked away with interesting pieces of information and an appreciation of how important this work is to the university.
“This is a chance for La Verne’s faculty to really look around a room and say, ‘Wow, there are a lot of things going on here,’ ” said Jeffrey Kahan, Professor of English. “This is a day where we get to present our own work to our students, which is very exciting.”
Paintings and sculptures were displayed and award-winning work from students in the Communications Department was shown. Musical compositions also were shared.
Titles of some of the work showcased included: “Social Justice is Not Spoken Here,” “Everything I Know About Teaching I Learned In Prison,” and “What Does Technology Have to Do with Learning?”
“Research is one of the central focuses of the faculty at any university,” said Al Clark, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, who organized the event. “Sharing that research is an important way that faculty can stimulate each other’s research. La Verne emphasizes student research as well as faculty and student collaboration.”
Lucie Leung Liu, 23, a senior biology major who is conducting research with Christine Broussard, Associate Professor of Biology, attended the event and offered a summary of the research she is doing on the effect of endocrine disrupters on the immune system.
“This is a really good way to show our projects and give us experience,” she said. “This is a good way to share with the University of La Verne community what the biology and other departments are doing.”
Broussard, who could not attend Research Day because she was presenting data at a national conference, had four posters that told others what she and her students were researching. The way the event was set up allowed people to browse and interact. “I think it’s important for the faculty to know what we all are doing, in a very social way,” she said.
Broussard said there is a national movement to get undergraduates involved in research, even first- and second-year students.
Ideally, research experience would occur early in an undergraduate’s career, she said. “La Verne is ahead of the game in that we require all of the majors to do the senior projects,” she said.
Mark Goor, Dean, College of Education and Organizational Leadership, said he believes that the Monday faculty lectures and the annual research day have done a great deal to highlight the research and scholarship of the faculty at the university. “I think it’s elevated the importance of research and creativity in the lives of faculty,” he said.
At the event, “you got the feeling you were walking around with the opportunity to engage people in what was interesting to them and it presented a total picture of all the colleges so that you had a sense of the work from biology to business to education,” Goor said. “I think it builds pride.”
Clark said he had a few goals for the day: to honor and recognize the research and creative activity occurring among the university community, to link people together by stimulating feedback and suggestions among researchers, and to build a stronger community of researchers.
Jack Meek, Professor of Public Administration, was struck by how the event has grown and how now there is too much to see in a short period of time.
“That’s a function of how much the faculty and students are engaged in research,” he said. “It’s a great celebration. The sciences are always intriguing. They do a lot of really good work, especially the funded research. Their work includes and engages students across the board.”
John Linarelli, Associate Dean of College of Law, said research is a central focus or mission of a university. He said the event is important because it allows professors to add to their body of knowledge in their fields. It’s also important that universities teach students how to critically engage as citizens, he said.
Linarelli said the turnout was great and the Campus Center provided an ideal setting.
“It was just a really nice event,” he said. “It was really quite thrilling to see this undergraduate-focused research. It’s just another example of how La Verne is really engaged in this transformative education.”