Conference on Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions Set for Friday

Dr. John Falconer
director of Sponsored Programs, 308.865.8496

At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, having a reputation for research isn’t something taken for granted.

“We have to remember that at smaller institutions, faculty research is still very important,” said John Falconer, UNK director of Sponsored Programs.

According to Falconer, there are two major reasons why research is so important for faculty at undergraduate institutions. “First, research helps faculty stay in touch with their field of expertise, and secondly, it brings more opportunities for students in the classroom,” he said, stressing the importance of creating research opportunities for undergraduate students.

On Friday, Sept. 16, UNK will host its first ever Conference on Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions to explore how faculty research improves education and strengthens universities. The conference, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the  Nebraskan Student Union, will host faculty from colleges and universities in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

Falconer said he’d like to see UNK marked as the convening point on the topic of faculty research at smaller institutions.

Planning the conference since February, Falconer said he had a committee of about six UNK faculty help determine the content of the conference and speakers they would ask to present.

Eight UNK faculty and administrators will speak at the conference, along with presenters from the University of Northern Colorado, Mesa State College, University of Nebraska-Omaha, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska Humanities Council and the National Council on Undergraduate Research.

From UNK, presenters will include: Dr. Finnie Murray, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs; Dr. Chris Exstrom, Department of Chemistry; Dr. David Palmer, Department of Management and Marketing; Dr. Kate Heelan, Department of Human Performance; Dr. John Damon, Department of English; Dr. Julie Shaffer, Department of Biology; Dr. Richard Miller, Department of Psychology; and Dr. Tim Burkink, associate dean of the College of Business and Technology.

Areas of discussion will include faculty development, perceptions of undergraduate research, including students in research,  incorporating research into teaching, and dealing with time and infrastructure challenges. Falconer said he’d like to see the conference facilitate discussion about the values, strategies and challenges to scholarly activity at non-research intensive institutions.

The conference overlaps the Student Research Program Fall Symposium, set for Sept. 15 and 16 on the UNK campus.