Although the rain and clouds gave Dubuque a break from the bad weather on Wednesday, May 3, many students and faculty could be found inside the Alumni Campus Center for the fourth annual Legacy Symposium. This tradition, which began in 2014, is a celebration of all of the success Loras College has had in the last calendar year.
“The Legacy Symposium has become an outstanding tradition at Loras because we always take pride in celebrating success among individuals and as a community,” President Jim Collins said. “The mentoring our faculty and staff provide students is extraordinary. They push students to realize their fullest potential.”
It allows those presenting a chance to share their hard work with the larger community in a setting that many would not be able to do otherwise. The day began at 8:30 a.m. with the “Call to Community,” which included music by the chamber choir, words from President Collins, and a prayer from chaplain, Fr. Dennis Miller. The short ceremony marked the beginning of a day filled with academic recognition.
Throughout the day, many of the buildings on campus held oral presentations from students and faculty, representing many different academic grades and departments. At the same time, the Alumni Campus Center was the central location that held the poster presentations, art galleries, and the film festival that concluded the day.
“The Symposium is the perfect vehicle to showcase and celebrate the vast array of talent that exists on this campus among our students, staff and faculty,” President Collins said. “There is nothing better than to see the widespread pride and satisfaction we all have in recognizing such extraordinary outcomes.”
Throughout the day, the Loras community attended oral and poster presentations. Not only did this give them a chance to see projects within their own majors but also in other departments. Loras prides itself as a liberal arts institution, and the event was designed with that in mind.
“The sessions are intentionally interdisciplinary,” Dr. Eller said. “This is the crux of liberal arts education … being exposed to areas and ideas and methods of research that you might not have ever experienced because you wouldn’t have sought them out on your own, if you were even aware of them before.”
When students were not attending presentations of their professors and peers, many of them are presented their own work. With the help of a faculty mentor, they submitted their abstracts to the committee back in February for approval. Since Loras students are very involved, many presented more than once throughout the day and have presented many times throughout their time at Loras.
“Presenting at the Legacy Symposium is a great experience,” said senior Christine McDonald. “I enjoy sharing with a wider audience what I have worked on in the honors program as well as in my classes. It’s always great to hear feedback from others and to see how the work I have done is impacting them, especially in regards to my honors project ‘The Plastic Bag Impact.’”
The Legacy Symposium would not have been possible without the generosity of both alumni and friends of the institution who helped sponsor the event, as well as the Legacy committee who took on the monumental task of planning the symposium.
This committee was made up of co-chairs Dr. Erin VanLaningham and Dr. Eller with the assistance of Dr. Aditi Sinha, Dr. Julia Omarzu, Dr. Hilarie Welsh, Dr. Lynn Gallagher, Dr. Lisa Garoutte and sophomore Natalie Droeske who served as the student assistant. They met almost every week throughout the semester in order to make the event possible, planning everything from choosing presenters to carefully scheduling the day. Even though the work was long and tedious, the success of the event was what made the job worth it.
In 2014, Dr. Kate Cooper, Dr. Sinha, Dr. Garoutte, and Dr. VanLaningham had the idea for the symposium and worked to build this event from the ground up. They worked to gather support from the Loras community and start a tradition that is so important to the Loras community both now and for years to come.
“You can see what the day means to them,” Dr. Eller said. “The energy and the spirit of the Loras community on that day is unbelievably inspiring. And they created the venue for that to happen. That is their legacy for Loras. And the rest of us, from students to staff to faculty contribute our parts, but we are only able to do what we do because of what they did.”