Last semester the Elliot T. Bowers Honors College launched a new speaking series, ProfSPEAK.
The series is designed to showcase faculty and give them an opportunity to share their research, and share the fun of researching as well.
“ProfSPEAK is a series of informal lectures given by SHSU professors on their current and past research projects. It is held three times per semester, and its primary audience is all undergraduates, regardless of discipline, but it is also open to any interested graduate students, faculty, and staff. The Honors College launched it last fall as part of our continued effort to promote undergraduate research across campus,” said Dean of the Honors College, Dr. Kimberely Bell.
Topics so far have ranged from grave robbing with an English professor to how a teaching expert thinks video games might be used in her field.
The speech series is off to a timid start, but with quality lectures delivered time and time again the audience is set to grow.
“Since we have only had 4 presentations so far, it has not yet had a chance to grow. We have had an average attendance of 12 to 15 students, and we plan to change the days/times the lectures are offered next year, in the hopes of reaching more students.” Dean Bell said.
The inspiration for the speaking series comes from a passion within the Honors College for research.
“The Honors College is invested in promoting undergraduate research not only among honors students but with all undergraduates at SHSU (for example, this spring will mark our 10th year hosting the Undergraduate Research Symposium). We want students to be exposed to research in different forms and from different disciplines; hence, we strive to invite professors to speak who are from a wide-range of disciplines and colleges,” Dr. Bell said. “We hope that even if students do not attend all of our speaker presentations, they will at least become aware of the opportunities to learn more about research that are available to them.”
The Honors College itself has more than doubled its size in recent years, and part of that growth has allowed for the expansion of their programs, including offering ProfSPEAK to the entire campus.
“The idea for the ProfSPEAK series started in a meeting: the honors deans were brainstorming about ways in which we could raise awareness of research on campus, and Dr. Bilsing suggested that we start a series where faculty would share their research with students, and she suggested that we call it ‘ProfSPEAK,’” said Dean Bell.
The interest may still be growing from students, but faculty are already latching onto the idea.
“We all really liked the idea, and Dr. Lewis offered to launch the series with a presentation on his work on bones and CTScan technology. I e-mailed several faculty from different colleges to gauge interest, and they all responded immediately and favorably. We have had five presentations now (three in fall and two in spring), and I have received 8 queries from faculty who have heard about the series and who are hoping to present next year,” said Dean Bell.
The Dean stressed the openness of the events, noting that a commitment to academic success is something every Sam student can strive for.
“As with the URS, we are targeting all undergraduates with this series because research should be important to everyone; moreover, Honors should serve as the model for what constitutes excellence in research. Research crosses all disciplines, and our series highlights this fact. This is why we invite all students, regardless of discipline, to attend,” said Dean Bell.
If you have ever had a favorite faculty member, a special professor who captured your interest in a subject, that’s the feeling the ProfSPEAK series is trying to emulate. The series hosts faculty who love their fields and are excited to share, and who may just become your next favorite speaker.