Return to Portfolio Home

Academic Festival 2010

Posted: 05/10/2010

Beginning at 9 a.m. with "French Capstone Projects: Literature, Music, Film, Translation" and ending eight hours later with "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Immigration, Altruism and the American Identity," the 12th annual Academic Festival showcased the achievements of 260 students last Wednesday.

Students shared their work in 170 presentations in 22 venues. Here's a small sampling of what this year’s festival offered:

  • Art. Participants in Prof. Alison Barnes' course in Environmental Art created six installations in support of the 'Focus Skidmore' initiative. In "Stop, Look, Listen: Land Revelations," Sean D'Angelo '12, David Stein-Cowan, and local artist Nancy Weber sought to "highlight the profound beauty and meditative qualities" of the area adjacent to the Clinton Street entrance. In "For Mothers," located behind the gazebo at Haupt Pond, Julia Brenner '11 and Skip Suva '11 created three representations of Mother Nature. In "Wasted Drops," Isobel Flake '11, Christin Mulder '10, and Elizabeth Reilly '11 deployed a long chain of plastic bottles in various configurations on Case Green.
  • Business. Gabriella Levy '10 reported that 44.8 percent of the 176 Skidmore students she surveyed own smartphones, with Blackberry being the most favored brand at 51 percent. On average, she found, students use their smartphones for 2.5 hours daily, and will respond to a text message within six to 15 minutes if they are engaged in some activity and within one to five minutes if they aren't. Women send 20 percent more messages than men and spend more time on their smartphones (169 minutes per day) than men (108 minutes). Students from urban areas are far more dependent on smartphones than students from rural areas, and those students who use smartphones most tend to have lower GPAs.
  • Business and Art. In a comparative study of 20 management and 27 art majors, Sophie Cohen '10 (herself a dual major in both those areas) found that on such standard measures as tolerance for ambiguity, self-monitoring, and learning styles, art students show no greater tendency to be creative than business majors. Only in risk-taking did art students show a slightly greater tendency to be creative, she found. It's an important point, she noted, because businesses are increasingly calling upon their people to be inventive, flexible and original in their thinking.
  • Chemistry. Three of Prof. Steven Frey's students discussed their work with photosensitive metal compounds and ways of binding them to glass surfaces. Kevin Sergo '11 and Ryan Falk '10 reported on their work using a ruthenium complex synthesized by Falk. Marisa Civic '11 reported on similar work that she's doing with a palladium compound known for efficiently oxidizing alcohols, an important function in many industries.
  • Dance. Senior dancers offered glimpses into the creative process behind their recent capstone performances and original choreography in Dance Theater presentations. Rosalind Elliott '10 and Francesca Limoli '12 -- clad in traditional dance costumes in the Eastern Odissi style -- explored the influence of Hindu religious thought on Bharata Natyam, the dance of India. Jesse Kovarsky '10 described his solo capstone which -- performed to the "music" of his own recorded text -- he developed in concert with Bill T. Jones dancer Leah Cox. And Brendan Duggan and Elana Jacobs offered detailed explanations of the pivotal choices they had made in their acclaimed pieces, Trying to Play Human and You Weren't Supposed to See That.
  • English and Art. Students in Catherine Golden's class, "Children's Literature: Didactic, Daring, Enduring," created their own book cover for one of the historical children's books they read over the semester -- an exercise that took them into deeper meanings. MacKenzie Ginsburg '12 said she used color in her Cray-Pas rendering of Treasure Island to convey menacing aspects of the island and the dark reality of greed. Cameron Keady '12 said he "tried to show the mass of contradictions" presented in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Theater. Seven actors seated in black metal chairs read the first act of an original play by Chantrice Ollie titled Shouting Through the Silence while Ollie, a senior English major/management and business minor filled in stage directions. The first in a series of autobiographical plays, Silence tracks the progress of a promising young high school student who dreams of getting away from her home by going to a good college.
  • Marketing. A team of students in Elzbieta Lepkowska-White's marketing class shared its analysis of the College's "Creative Thought Matters" marketing strategy, based on surveys of 80 prospective students, 113 current students, and 17 faculty. The credo resonates particularly for prospective students, with 79 percent saying they're aware of the campaign and 94 percent saying they agree or strongly agree with the statement: "CTM reflects my perception of Skidmore College."
  • Marketing. Another team of students in Elzbieta Lepkoska-White's marketing class explored student interest in a "campus-based community Web site" modelled on a student-maintained site at Tufts University. In their survey of 105 students, they determined that students would be most interested in seeing on such a site an event board, job listings, a comprehensive dining guide, and a textbook exchange.
  • Women's Studies. Senior Emma Blumer presented her study of the 20th-century development of frozen convenience meals -- originally called "TV dinners." She explored the new product's effect on the American dream of Ozzie and Harriet-like family dinners, and factored in elements of class and ethnicity. Working women and those with heavy family responsibilities, Blumer pointed out, sought meal-prep shortcuts labeled "instant" or "defrostable" to preserve a traditional family dinner hour; third-world women provide the low-cost labor to make it possible. There's a gender issue behind every Lipton tea bag, Blumer noted.

Festival attendance ranged between eight to 100 per session with an average attendance around 30 per session -- up from 25 last year, said David Vella, professor of mathematics and Honors Forum director. On behalf of the Festival Planning Committee, he thanked all who contributed to the "wonderful success" of the event, a list that includes presenters, their faculty advisors, volunteer session chairs, and Honors Forum student helpers, as well as staff in Facilities Services, Office Services, Media Services, and Food Services.

Most of the students who were nominated for or selected to receive Periclean Scholar Awards presented their work at Academic Festival, noted Michael Arnush, chair of the awards committee. The four seniors selected to receive the awards are:

  • Krista Martin, for her work on “’Hookers and Holidays’: Interdependence and Convergence between Nevada Legalized Prostitution and the Tourism Industries.” Faculty sponsor: Pushkala Prasad, Management & Business;
  • Emma Newcombe, for her work on “’Every Generation Has Its Improvements …?’: Improving the Estate in Jane Austen.” Faculty sponsor: Phyllis Roth, English;
  • Nicolás Raga, for his work on “Democracy and Astringency of Environmental Policy.” Faculty sponsor: Mehmet Odekon, Economics;
  • Anne Wisan, for her Senior Voice Recital. Faculty sponsor: Anne Turner, Music.

The nominees are:

  • Zoë Coppola, Senior Piano and Harp Recital. Faculty sponsor: Pola Baytelman, Music;
  • Julia Dauer, “Gothic Temporality in the Antebellum American Novel.” Faculty sponsor: Holly Jackson, English;
  • Mihaela David, “Incentives to Cooperate: Can the European Union Cajole the United States into Forging a Strong Post-Kyoto Climate Deal?” Faculty sponsor: Roy Ginsberg, Government;
  • Jenna Gersie, “Wings and Words: A Field Guide to the Birds of North American Environmental Literature.” Faculty sponsor: Michael Marx, English;
  • Charles Moroni, “The Financial Soundness Indicators as an Early Warning System for Financial Crisis: A Signals Approach.” Faculty sponsor: Roy Rotheim, Economics;
  • Elissa Nadworny, “Teaching in South Africa: The Challenge of Making a Difference.” Faculty sponsor: Tom Lewis, English;
  • Claire Solomon, “The Presence of Song: Constructing Musical Memoirs.” Faculty sponsor: Mary Lynn, American Studies;
  • Evan Warshaw, “Global Agricultural Market Consolidation and Food Prices: Some Bootstrapped Results.” Faculty sponsor: Monica Das, Economics.


The four award recipients and all nominees will be recognized at the Periclean Scholar Awards presentation on Friday, May 21st from 10.30am to 12.00 p.m. in Ladd Hall in the Zankel Music Center. All members of the Skidmore community -- especially faculty, other Periclean nominees, and the senior student members of the Periclean Honor Society – are invited to attend the celebration.
Compiled from reports by Andrea Wise, Barbara Melville, Susan Rosenberg, and Dan Forbush.