(Posted April 17, 2006)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has a long tradition of canceling classes to give students a chance to exercise. Witness Mountain Day, a traditional free day for recreation that goes back to the early 1900s. This year, the college starts a new tradition in which students get out of class to stretch their minds.

The Juniata Liberal Arts Symposium, known jokingly on campus as "Mountain Day for the Mind," brings together students from almost all academic disciplines to present their research projects to a panel of judges. The presentations will run from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 19 in buildings across the campus, including Brumbaugh Academic Center, Ellis Hall, Good Hall and the von Liebig Center for Science.

"A research symposium is part of being a scholarâ??to share your work with others, to let it be judged in a natural sharing of ideas," says Jack Barlow, professor of politics at the college.

Juniata has a traditionally staged research symposiums, but this year's event includes academic departments that previously did not take part, or had held separate research-oriented events. According to James Tuten, assistant provost, who organized the event, more than 180 students from 18 different academic programs will be presenting research.

The research symposium emerged from previous events that had been organized by Tri-Beta, the student society for biology. To include more students from other disciplines, Juniata faculty members proposed an event that would include student presenters from all the sciences, plus humanities, information technology, business and behavioral sciences.

"Taking an entire day to celebrate research shows just how seriously the college takes research as part of the student experience," says Tuten. In addition, the cancellation of regular classes allows all rooms to be available for presentations and frees the entire faculty to act as judges.

Students whose presentations are judged to be the best will receive monetary awards at the college's spring convocation, May 5.

The information technology department will hold its research presentations from 3 to 6 p.m. in rooms in Brumbaugh Academic Center. Loren Rhodes, professor of information technology, said the later starting times allow the department's research partners, most of which are area businesses, to attend.

In years to come, the college hopes to incorporate theatrical productions, student music recitals and other capstone experiences during the symposium.

"We would like to see the symposium become as popular a tradition as Mountain Day or Madrigal," Tuten says.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.