The College’s first academic symposium celebrated the 22-year presidency of James J. Whalen and his strong support for undergraduate research, especially in the natural and social sciences. Held in the spring of 1997, the President’s Academic Symposium showcased the work of students from both the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Business, providing a forum much like that of a professional conference.
H&S dean Howard S. Erlich observed at the time, “The symposium honors President Whalen’s dedication to and support for student learning, both in the classroom and out. That so many of Ithaca College’s students are engaged in significant collaborative work with the faculty is a tribute not only to the college, but also to President Whalen’s distinguished leadership.”
The success of the first symposium suggested its continuation. The second event, renamed the James J. Whalen Academic Symposium and held in March 1998, featured the research and creative projects of approximately 80 students from all five school of the College. Student interest in the all-day event has continued to grow; the 2008 symposium involved over 250 students and 162 presentations. The projects represent the best student work accomplished at the College and are evidence of the important role that student-faculty collaboration plays in learning at Ithaca.