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Undergraduate Symposium History



The 42nd annual event returned to an in-person format at the EMU Student Center. The event program was published digitally with new information stands throughout the building and a QR code for ease of use in an effort to support our sustainability and environmental impact. 


The 42st annual event was moved online to support student research and creative projects amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing the ForeigerOne Symposium platform allowed us to feature live and pre-recorded presentations.  


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 event was canceled. To support our students after the cancellation, over 60 students' projects were featured via virtual presentation on social media. Our 2020 scholars were eligible for scholarships, honors credit, and Learning Beyond the Classroom credit. 


High school students from several area communities attended the Symposium. The Offices of Admissions and Communications assisted with this project to inspire future college students to choose EMU because of its academic excellence and the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate.


USA Today reporter Nathan Bomey (Symposium & EMU '06) served as the 35th annual Symposium’s keynote speaker. He told the student presenters attending the celebratory luncheon that, "Like me, all of you are devoted to basic research. Learning, exploring, dare I say, reporting...."



A smart device application, Guidebook, provided the Symposium program electronically to visitors and presenters. The 34th event was adjusted to an all-day format to accommodate a record-high participation of 500 students. 


Challenge advancement goal reached: $1-million in support of the Symposium and especially student scholarship and research awards. Special to this year was the addition of the Design Expo as an exhibit component for student research.


The Symposium reaches the historic mark of 30 events! Over the past three decades, more than 4,000 students have had the opportunity to share their research in front of their peers, professors, University administration, community, and family. We have grown from 17 presenters in the first Symposium to over 300!


The nominations process was changed to allow only online submissions, thereby streamlining the approval process and making both web and print publication easier.


The event moved to the new EMU Student Center. Genesis, a bronze sculpture by artist and 26th annual Symposium keynote speaker Brent Collins, was dedicated and placed on permanent display at the center.


The Symposium proudly celebrated its 25th event. In honor of the event's longevity, a new scholarship series was announced and the event also provided the opportunity for 25 select Symposium and University alumni to return to campus for the festivities.



Webcasting of select presentations was added to the event.


The Barry A. Fish Scholarship and the Ronald W Collins Memorial Endowed Scholarship were offered to Undergraduate Symposium Participants.


The Office of Financial Aid and the Graduate School began providing up to 20 University Fellowship Awards for Symposium Participants and to graduating participants to encourage them to continue their graduate studies at EMU. The Symposium’s dedicated website launched.


Student designers became involved in the design process.


Student emcees were added to the luncheon program.


Participation expanded with students from the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Business.


Participation expanded with students from the College of Education and the College of Technology.


Posters displays added to the event.


Luncheon and keynote speaker added to the event.


Envisioned by former Provost Ronald W. Collins, and under the leadership of Ira M. Wheatley of History and Philosophy, the first annual event was held April 3, 1981. Seventeen students and 19 faculty members from nine College of Arts and Sciences departments were featured.