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2008 News Releases

Longwood launches journal for undergraduate research

April 18, 2008

INCITE cover

Longwood University’s focus on undergraduate research and creative activity has led to a new journal that will showcase such work.

The inaugural issue of Incite, the Journal of Undergraduate Scholarship in the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences (CCCAS), was published recently. The journal, which will be published every spring, is part of Longwood’s effort to develop a national reputation for excellence in undergraduate research and creative activity.

The 108-page issue, printed by Longwood’s Printing Services, contains 16 submissions by 18 students, including research articles, poems, paintings, photographs, and music and theatrical performances by students. The student performances are contained in a 30-minute DVD that accompanies the journal. The front cover features a painting by junior Rachel Wolfe.

“There were three broad reasons we as a college decided to focus our energy and resources on undergraduate scholarly work,” said Dr. Chuck Ross, dean of the CCCAS. “First, it keeps us connected to Longwood’s heritage of a close working relationship between faculty and students. Second, it provides us with a holistic mission and vision for the arts and sciences. In the Cook-Cole College, we have 10 departments plus Liberal Studies, which is Longwood’s biggest program, so instead of pulling in 11 directions, everybody is now pulling in the same direction. Finally, it allows us to collectively make the best use in the future of the generous gift from Dr. John Cook and Dr. Waverly Cole for naming our college.

“Many colleges have a research journal, but I don’t think any cover as broad a range of subject matter as ours,” Ross said. “Most journals are oriented toward math and science. We’ve worked hard to include everything. So, in addition to being beautiful, it’s also one-of-a-kind.”

The journal's production team
The journal's production team includes, from left, graduate student Austin Eichelberger, executive editors Mary Carroll-Hackett and Dr. Graham, and Dr. Chuck Ross, dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences.
The journal’s executive editors are Mary Carroll-Hackett, assistant professor of English and director of the Creative Writing program, and Dr. John Graham, assistant professor of computer science. Another key person is Austin Eichelberger, a graduate student in Creative Writing who is production assistant and designer, as well as part of the 12-member student editorial staff. “I can’t say enough about the hard work and endless hours that Mary and John and the students have put into it,” Ross said.

The publication evolved from college-wide discussions the last two years about the importance of undergraduate research and creative activity. Faculty from the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences reached a consensus at a retreat in May 2007 to make “undergraduate scholarship our ‘signature program’,” Ross said. A short time later, some 14 faculty members volunteered to participate in a task force on how best to proceed with the undergraduate scholarship initiative. In September three of those faculty members, Dr. Chris Bjornsen, Dr. Alix Fink and Dr. Leigh Lunsford, accompanied Ross to a three-day workshop in Philadelphia sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. As a result of that workshop and a number of meetings by the task force, a production team began work on a journal highlighting current projects involving student-faculty teams across the college.

Some 500 copies of the first issue have been printed, and as many as 500 more copies might be printed. It was officially unveiled in a reception April 15 at the Longwood Bed & Breakfast (the former Alumni House) attended by about 80 people.

“We’ll distribute it to every faculty member in the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences, administrators, the students who were involved, Board of Visitors’ members, and others,” Ross said. “It’s something nice to give to external audiences and prospective donors. It’s a great morale-booster for faculty and students, and it’s also a great tool for recruiting and for raising friends and funds. We will also have copies for sale at the Longwood bookstore. Although this first volume has set the bar pretty high, I’m sure it will continue to evolve and improve. I’m really proud of it.”

Ross, who also is a physics professor, believes strongly in the value of research and what he calls “mentored” creative activity. “One-on-one work with a faculty member is a great way to learn,” he said. “I’ve mentored about 20 students, and I’ve really seen the light come on. Students almost always do better in the classroom once they’ve gained confidence working on a project with a faculty member. It’s also good for faculty since it keeps them engaged in their discipline.”

The journal's student editorial board consists of Sarah Barr, Samari Batista, Mike Campbell, Lia Carroll-Hackett, Austin Eichelberger, Carey McCue, Kevin Mooney, Jon Norcutt, Stephen Ownby, Katelyn Romaine, Thom Scott and Casey Wentz.

Student contributors to the journal.
Student contributors to the journal.