On April 25, the signature orange balloons will appear across the Baldwin Wallace campus as students from all disciplines gather to share research, presentations, music, literature, food, camaraderie, and learning on the Day of Excellence.
“The Day of Excellence is the day we celebrate student achievement in scholarly activities with posters, oral presentations, performances, and things of that sort,” said Provost Stephen Stahl. “We recess classes for the day, and it’s a chance for faculty and students to see what students are doing across campus.”
Initially, Ovation itself was just one day of project and poster presentations, said Lynn Hulthen, academic project coordinator.
Over time, that single day of presentations continued to acquire more events and more participants. When Ovation expanded in length and scope into a multi-day festival, she said, this original day became the Day of Excellence.
“Day of Excellence is what the whole Ovation Festival builds towards,” said Provost Stephen Stahl. “It’s going to have between 25% and 33% of the student body presenting in one day.”
With the percentage of students readily eligible to participate considered, Stahl said, almost 80% of the students are in a position to showcase their work in the Day of Excellence. According to Hulthen, this year’s Day of Excellence will see about 135 projects presented by approximately 220 students, while events like the Coffee House and Soapbox allow even more students to participate.
“It really cuts across all departments, programs, schools, parts of the university, and disciplines,” said Stahl. “And if you take a step back, the range of what students are working on is really pretty amazing. As you turn a corner, you go from what you might expect in a chemistry poster to running into somebody that has been doing some surveying for political science, to going to a poster or presentation that is running into the university’s efforts to be sustainable.”
Hulthen said that the Day of Excellence offers a unique opportunity for students, faculty, and the community to see the best of what BW has to offer all brought together.
“The work is being done on various pockets across campus throughout the year,” Hulthen said, “but this day brings it all together under one celebration of research and achievement.”
The Day of Excellence will kick off with a welcome from Stahl and President Robert Helmer, who will later compete against BW’s National Runner-up cornhole team prior to the 4 p.m. Honors Award Ceremony.
In the Boesel Musical Arts Center, three back-to-back poster sessions will be held. The first will last from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., the second from 12:45 to 2 p.m., and the third from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Also, during this time, Stahl said oral presentations and student-faculty collaborations are presented in Marting Hall.
Also, in Marting will be the Coffee Shop, featuring student poetry and music, and the Sophomore Celebration, said Hulthen. Outside, students can take a stand on the Soapbox to speak about issues they are passionate about and present possible solutions.
A big part of the Ovation Festival that is especially evident in the Day of Excellence, said Associate Director of University Relations Sue Searcy, is the chance for students to share with and learn from peers outside of their own fields of expertise
“Part of what we ask of students on the Day of Excellence is to present their work in such a way that a layperson understands it,” said Searcy. “So, if you’ve done some kind of chemistry research, and I can’t even begin to read the title of your project, you need to be able to explain that to me in a way that’s comprehensible.”
Another major goal of the Day of Excellence, said Stahl, is to set up students for lifelong learning and success beyond the BW campus.
“We try to get students to a position where they’re going to be able to educate themselves through life,” Stahl said. “The only way to do that is by asking the right question rather than seeking the right answer. And this is that festival, the festival of student asking questions.”