UIW Hosts 17th Annual Excellence Summit

April 19, 2024

This week, UIW hosted its 17th Annual Excellence Summit, also known as Research Week. In 2008, a new tradition of celebrating and showcasing academic accomplishments was established at the University through Research Day. Over the years, it has evolved into a week-long event in which UIW researchers, scholars and artists from all disciplines gather to share their innovation, scholarship, creative works and impactful achievements.

Dr. Mark Nijland, dean of Research, explained that “the purpose of the Excellence Summit is to showcase the diversity of scholarly inquiry present at UIW, to provide experiential presentation opportunities to undergraduate students and to connect as One Word.”

Nijland noted that although the word “research” may limit people’s perspectives of how they can participate in the event, the cross-disciplinary interaction of the summit allows for enlightenment and diversity to flourish. Summit participants presented on their work involving various topics such as financial wellbeing education, accessible healthcare, sexual assault awareness, the benefits of community-based programs and more.

“This event has taken many forms over the years,” noted Nijland. “It has grown from an afternoon focused on faculty to a Research Week occurring over several days, to its current format as our Excellence Summit with undergraduate-facing events. We are in version 17.0 overall, but this version is 1.0 for what comes next as we demonstrate the diversity of Excellence at UIW, from bench science to teaching methodology, the scholarship of teaching and learning, clinical problem solving, theatre and music.”

In addition to students, professors and other community members presenting their research, UIW’s 2023-24 Moody Professor, Dr. Alfredo Aragón, presented at the summit. The honored title and achievement of the Moody Professorship reflects a high level of scholarship, teaching excellence and community service attained by the recipient. This is the highest faculty honor bestowed by UIW.

His research is titled, “Participatory Action Research: Going from storytelling to story doing to engage community expertise for change.” His lecture on the topic explored how the field of action research analyzes how the world reacts to how people participate and immerse themselves within communities to help determine the best ways to make positives changes; changes that respect all the complex parts of people as whole persons.

“Action research is a way to work with people collaboratively. To engage them in research and action to address their own issues. It tries to work in communities by encouraging them to become their own researchers ... to realize that they have knowledge and that they can use that knowledge and leverage it for change … We're not generating knowledge for knowledge’s sake. We're generating knowledge for purposes of trying to change different realities,” expressed Aragón.

The Cardinal community demonstrated their impressive and admirable integrity, care and dedication to bettering the world through their work presented at this year’s summit.