Giant puppets running loose-and many other exceptional activities-to be part of first MayFest
Giant puppets running loose-and many other exceptional activities-to be part of first MayFestFebruary 25, 2005Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
For many Syracuse University students, faculty and staff, thinking about end-of-semester study days brings to mind solitary, intense cramming or quiet presentations before a few classmates and faculty. But May 4 will be a far more vibrant study day this year-that’s the promise of the first annual MayFest at SU, a campus-wide celebration and showcase for student works of creativity, discovery, research and innovation. The Soling Program originated and is coordinating the campus-wide effort.
All of SU’s schools and colleges and many support units have signed on to make MayFest happen throughout the day, from 9 a.m.-5p.m., in lecture rooms, concert venues, classrooms, labs and lobbies around the central location of the main Quad. Activities will include a dazzling array of performances, readings, screenings, exceptional oral and poster presentations, the giant puppets of the Open Hand Theater, haute couture, magic shows and cooking demonstrations-and much more. The day’s events will be free and open to the public; information and registration are available online at http://mayfest.syr.edu.
In a letter announcing MayFest to the campus community, Chancellor Nancy Cantor hails MayFest as an embodiment of the University’s “Exploring the Soul of Syracuse” initiative and calls on all parts of the University to “galvanize new collaborations across all disciplines and academic boundaries.” To that end, MayFest organizers are designing the program so that attendees and participants interact in settings and situations that are not always familiar to them.
Soling Program Director James Spencer says he’s looking forward to the day’s interdisciplinary learning and community outreach-and its festive atmosphere. “We’re not really worried about the giant puppets getting lost in the Hall of Languages or chemistry magic shows gone wrong, because the MayFest program, logistics and communication committees are enjoying so much support from faculty and staff across campus,” he says. “It’s helping us put all the pieces in place so that people can just look forward to new intellectual challenges and learning in the company of others.”
Spencer says the response so far has been strong: Dozens of groups are involved, and the number of activities in the works numbers in the hundreds. “There is still plenty of room for new ideas-we want this to be a showcase for the diversity, breadth and depth of SU’s creativity,” he says. Participants have until March 18 to register their ideas at the Web site, by calling the Soling office at 443-2426 or by contacting faculty advisors. After that, organizers will work with participants to decide when and where presentations will take place during the day, with the goals of encouraging people to engage in intellectual tourism in unfamiliar parts of campus, making everything easily accessible, and meeting needs for space and facilities.
“We’re trying to do so much with MayFest and the sheer number and variety of offerings reflects that. Student thesis presentations, dance, drama, musical performances, film screenings, lively poster presentations, virtual global forums, science and engineering presentations, unique demonstrations and much more” says Spencer. “Those will all contribute to meeting the goals of MayFest-to showcase student work; to promote SU’s understanding of our own creativity; to foster new collaborations; to encourage student engagement by holding up successful peer role models; and to display for the community the breadth and scope of our creativity.” In addition to members of the SU community, high school students will be a key audience for MayFest; hundreds of local teachers and counselors have received invitations to consider MayFest as a field trip-type activity. According to Spencer, the idea is for the day’s activities to create a sense of excitement about all things creative and intellectual.
For more information, visit http://mayfest.syr.edu or contact the Soling office. More details will be announced on the site and elsewhere in the coming weeks. For more information on the Soling Program, visit http://soling.syr.edu.