Students displayed their projects and research at the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) this Tuesday during the annual Kenyon Showcase, formerly known as the Celebration of High-Impact Practices (CHIPs).
While the event was similar to those of past years, Professor of Biology Drew Kerkhoff, who was in charge of the Showcase, felt that it needed a rebrand.
“It’s really hard to brand with an acronym,” said Kerkhoff. “I think the idea was to just make it more straightforward as to what this is about, and that’s showcasing the experiences of our students.”
Those experiences included researching zoning in Michigan, shooting a feature film and planning educational activities for local elementary schoolers. One especially popular booth was the Quest for Justice (PSCI 101Y) table. Professors encouraged passers-by to share their opinion on a topic, such as free speech on college campuses or whether the unexamined life is worth living. Quest students stationed at the booth had to adopt the opposite opinion and start a debate.
Quest student J.J. Conway ’22 took a shift at the table because he thought it would be fun. He also wanted to advertise the class’s lively format.
“People need to know that at this campus, there’s still open dialogue and discussion about a wide variety of issues,” he said. “You can do that in a more formal academic setting.”
The Quest booth was in the small “First-Year Experiences” category at the Showcase. The most common type of project was “Service Learning or Community-Based Research.” Other groups included “Writing Intensive Courses,” “Global Learning” and senior capstones or Honors projects. According to Kerkhoff, 70 students presented 46 different projects during the event, with help from about 30 faculty members.
The longtime director of the Kenyon Showcase, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Brad Hartlaub, is on sabbatical this year. Kerkhoff stepped into his role as Director of Student Research, whose duties include managing the event. He expected the Showcase to be the only major campus event on April 2, but after he set the date, the Office of Communications gave him a call.
“They said, ‘That’s when Bell-A-Thon is!’ I said, ‘What’s Bell-A-Thon?’ Because I didn’t know,” Kerkhoff said.
Once the Office of Communications explained the event, a partnership developed. Kerkhoff and the Showcase were featured on Bell-A-Thon, Kenyon’s annual fundraising broadcast. Kerkhoff believed that the midday stream was perfectly timed for alumni viewers on lunch breaks. The partnership may have brought more attention to the Showcase, which Kerkhoff says “has been an event in search of an audience.” He hopes that the exposure interested new people, such as family members and prospective students, in the Showcase and in Kenyon.