An Academic Evening: Students Share Papers at Reception

Chris Nickels

Students discussed their projects and papers with professors and administrators at the Student Lecture Forum reception at Merrill House.

Senior Pat Kabat had the idea for the forum two years ago. Kabat heads the forum along with associate director first-year Brendan O’Connor. Colgate Speaking Union Advisor Miranda Weigler also assists with the event.

The reception provided a venue for students to network with professors and gain advice for future projects.

“I think that it was a good opportunity to mingle with the faculty and administrators, who can offer insight to projects that I’m working on, and perhaps give advice for my thesis, when I decide which topic I want to write on,” said junior Ian Maron-Kolitch, a sociology and anthropology and Latin American studies double major.

He thought that the format of the reception was reflective of Colgate’s environment as a whole.

“I think that’s part of the reason why students choose Colgate,” Maron-Kolitch said. “It’s very different from a larger university in that we have such close interaction with faculty members. I think that it’s a good learning experience for us and it also contributes to the overall academic feeling at Colgate in that professors also enjoy being close with students and working closely with students.”

The reception enabled students to interact with their professors in a social setting. Likewise, instructors benefited from it in much the same way.

“I think the point is to hear about projects that you wouldn’t necessarily hear about,” Associate Professor of Mathematics and Liberal Arts CORE Program Ken Valente said. “I’m familiar with those students I’ve had in my courses and some of those students I’ve talked to through graduate fellowships, but there are lot more projects and interesting things going on that I wouldn’t have a chance to tap into. So this is sort of one way to learn about what people are doing.”

The forum encouraged interaction between peers as well. Senior Naveen Hussain said that sometimes finding a good place for intellectual discourse with one’s peers is difficult.

“I just actually wanted to meet all the people who were also working on projects and were intellectually devoted to Colgate,” Hussain said. “I wanted to see what other people were doing. I’m really glad I came. I know a lot of the people who are here, so that’s great, but sometimes you never get to see them and talk to them about their work: you always see them as friends or you see them at parties. So this was a chance to see your friends in a different light.”

Towards the end of the evening, Kabat called everyone together to listen to a few short presentations and to hear some words from President Rebecca Chopp.

A few students were selected to briefly share one of their recent projects with the other attendees . Each had 45 seconds. Seniors Erin Hanna and Richard LeBeau talked about their joint honors project on the role of emotions in nonphysical sexual coercion. Senior Ethan Bennett discussed his project on the historically significant roles of the Earl of Sandwich and spy, Ethan Bennett, in preventing a French invasion of Britain in the 1770’s.

Afterwards, Chopp spoke about the event.

“I get asked sometimes by people: ‘Why do the brightest people in the country choose to be faculty?’ ” she said. “If you look at SATs and IQs and all the relevant data you would see, time and time again, that the brightest people in our society choose to become faculty and teach undergraduates. Tonight we’ve seen the answer why. The ability to ask all these questions is the ability to investigate the world and to create anew.”