Original research and creative activity are widely recognized as high-impact educational experiences that positively affect undergraduate students’ completion rates, career prospects and readiness for graduate study.
Most SUNY campuses encourage such research and creative activity throughout the curriculum, in capstone experiences and/or via intensive summer placements. In addition, they invest in opportunities for students to present their work, thereby engaging critical audiences in their learning processes and honing the professional communication skills necessary for higher-order scholarship and career success. Frequently those institutions do so by hosting their own student scholarship symposiums and by sending their students to professional conferences and events such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).
Institutions’ internal symposiums engender school spirit and commitment to academic excellence, while also providing students with first-time presentation opportunities before familiar audiences. Participation in NCUR allows students to develop further confidence and academic skills and to network beyond their campus by presenting their work to students and faculty who specialize in their research fields. This opportunity often comes at the steep price of sending students to distant NCUR host institutions. For instance, SUNY colleges spent many thousands of dollars to send students to the 2015 NCUR in Spokane, Washington. SURC will provide similar networking and academic enrichment opportunities for students throughout the SUNY system at lower costs and more convenient locales. Wide participation in the part-day display of SUNY/CUNY student research at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, hosted each year by the University Faculty Senate (UFS), is a model that indicates an unmet demand across the SUNY system for a larger SURC.
By bringing together many hundreds of students and faculty from across the state, SURC will help realize the synergistic power of the SUNY system. Students will benefit from networking and academic enrichment opportunities and learn about graduate programs available across SUNY at a Graduate School Fair. Faculty will benefit from networking workshops on integrating student research into their pedagogy or building research and grant collaborations. Additionally, the Research Foundation may use SURC to host a faculty workshop on its Networks of Excellence. Finally, SUNY and the Research Foundation are encouraged to convene administrative meetings coinciding with the event, thereby giving leadership a convenient opportunity to witness academic excellence across the SUNY system.
The volunteer host institutions will work with the SUNY Provost’s Office and UFS to identify a liaison at each SUNY and CUNY university, comprehensive college and community college by the beginning of the academic year. These liaisons will distribute an initial electronic invitation from the SUNY Chancellor and subsequent promotions and information from the SURC host to their faculty colleagues during the fall semester. Liaisons may collect and help vet student presentation proposals before submitting them electronically to the host institution. If accepted by faculty reviewers, those presentations will be scheduled into conference proceedings and thus be available for inclusion in students’ portfolios.
There will be a modest conference registration fee for attending students and faculty. Depending on sponsorships and/or host institution investment in administrative costs (marketing, communication, proceedings booklet printing, etc.), this fee will contribute to overhead and largely cover the costs of conference luncheon and refreshments. The SURC Steering Committee hopes that each SUNY institution will cover the costs of registration and travel for a cohort of its undergraduate students and attending faculty.