Ovation Festival puts student achievement in the spotlight

Baldwin Wallace’s 2022 Ovation Day of Excellence festival has returned and will take place on April 28th.  

There have been flyers posted around campus, professors have mentioned it at the end of their lectures, and students may have brought it up in conversations with peers that they’re presenting at Ovation. For many students at BW, this is their first in person Ovation due to it being canceled in 2020 and put on virtually in 2021. Some of those students may wonder: what even is Ovation? 

Sue Searcy, associate director of University Relations, and Lynn Hulthen, an academic affairs project coordinator, are the brains behind Ovation operations this year and they are excited to introduce it to a new generation of BW students.  

“I call it the biggest celebration of student learning and achievement,” Searcy said. “There’s a lot of fun as well as the opportunity to recognize the students that have done the work.”  

Ovation is not just a day of presentations for a particular group of students. Content ranges from oral presentations to posters, videos, and musical performances across all majors and disciplines. 

Students that are not involved in the productions of the day, can still enjoy other aspects. They are welcome to watch any presentation as they walk through the decorated North Quad, Knowlton Center, and CIG. There will also be a free lunch offered to every student and musical entertainment.  

Ovation has become a BW tradition since it was started in 2008. Originally, it was started by faculty members to put projects done by science students on display. It was also held on a Saturday which lowered student engagement. Since 2008, numerous changes have been made.  

“It has never been the same twice,” Searcy said. “What we do and how it’s presented has been different every year.”  

In 2015, Ovation was moved to Thursdays instead of the weekend to involve the entire campus and to make the day more of an academic festival.  

“The provost decided that this should be part of the academic life and not an add-on,” Searcy said.  

The biggest wish of Searcy and Hulthen this year is that students will be excited to attend Ovation and understand its value.  

“Our challenge this year as a committee is getting people to understand what all of this is since most students have never seen an in person Ovation,” Hulthen said.  

As students, it is easy to get comfortable in our majors where we have classes in the same academic buildings with the same group of people for four years. The gift of Ovation is that it pushes students out of the little pods they have formed and allows them to see everything that’s going on throughout campus.  

“It’s meant to be inclusive and interactive,” Searcy said. “There’s an opportunity to discover and learn new things.”  

According to Hulthen, there are about 140 projects and 230 student presenters this year. The high number of presenters comes in spite of the two-year-long hiatus and was a pleasant surprise for the committee.  

Students are encourage to check out work by their peers and are free to come and go throughout the festival. Searcy said the Ovation sets BW apart from other universities.  

“We very much believe in a broad based education,” Searcy said. “Younger students can learn about the different disciplines on campus.” 

Hulthen called Ovation “a good chance for students to support their peers in their academic work,”   

A full event schedule for Ovation 2022: Day of Excellence. can be found at https://www.bw.edu/events/ovation/. It will last from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 28th on North Campus.