In the summer of 1995, a small group of faculty members in the Science and Mathematics Division met to explore the feasibility of creating an event where students could present their findings from faculty-mentored research to a university-wide audience. P. Douglas Kindschi, Dean of Science and Mathematics, was enthusiastically supportive, thus Student Research Day (SRD) was born.
It was decided to hold the event on April 12, 1996, in conjunction with the dedication and celebration of the new Seymour and Esther Padnos Hall of Science. The first-time event was expected to draw about thirty student participants. All expectations were exceeded when the registration period ended with over 150 presenters committed to present almost 100 presentations. The first event was a tremendous success; however, it was unknown whether SRD could be a successful "stand alone" event. These fears were quickly allayed when the second annual Student Research Day was held in April of 1997 and proved to be a great success with a similar level of participation.
The event became popular enough to get requests from students outside of science and mathematics majors who wanted to present their work. An effort began to make the event truly university-wide, which then Provost Glenn Niemeyer whole-heartedly supported. Students from all majors were encouraged to present and/or exhibit their faculty-mentored scholarly work at the event. To help make the event more inclusive, its name was changed from Student Research Day to Student Scholarship Day. The first university-wide event doubled in size with nearly 300 students giving almost 200 presentations in 1998. The first SSD keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Powell, Professor of Biology at Avila College, who talked about "Student/Faculty Collaboration: Teaching and Scholarship." Another name change occurred in the Fall of 2009, this time to Student Scholars Day. The name change was instituted to combat occasional confusion over the nature of the event. "It's still very focused on student work, but the new name takes away any ambiguity about what the purpose of the day is," said Susan Mendoza, Director of Integrative Learning.
What began as an event primarily composed of science and mathematics majors has grown to include student presentations representing majors from across the university. The GVSU community has truly embraced this annual event as a day in which to take pause and proudly celebrate the scholarly achievements of students from the past year. Student Scholars Day continues to grow, both in size and scope. The event continues to encompass interdisciplinary relationships among the presentations. Individually, the presentation is clear and focused. Taken as a whole, a larger, more inclusive picture of collaboration and learning emerges.