Griffin Ell / Art Director

Keene State will be hosting the 20th Academic Excellence Conference on Saturday, April 18. The conference allows students to present their research and projects in panel discussions, oral presentations or poster presentations.

The deadline to submit an abstract for the Academic Excellence Conference is Friday, February 7 at 11:59 p.m. There is also an abstract proofreading session on Friday, January 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Rhodes S203, according to an email sent out to campus by the Office of the Provost.  

KSC junior Jarrod Bernier is planning on presenting at the Academic Excellence Conference.

“It is a conference in which students are allowed to showcase the work they’ve done while at the college,” Bernier said. “I will, hopefully, be presenting a paper I wrote about the film ‘The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.’”

Irene McGarrity and Fitni Destani are the co-chairs for the Academic Excellence Conference. Destani is an associate professor for human performance and movement sciences at Keene State.

“We decided to split the responsibilities from semester to semester. [McGarrity] did the fall semester and I’m basically running it in the spring,” Destani said.

The goal is to eventually extend the conference into a longer event that uses more buildings on campus. 

“One of the big ideas is to expand the Academic Excellence Conference so that it’s not just a one-day event,” Destani said, “and maybe offer a different name altogether. We might call it a showcase event.”

Any Keene State graduate or undergraduate student can present at the conference. According to Keene State’s website, “Alumni who graduated 12 months ago or less are also eligible.” Students of any major can present at the conference.

“We are working hard as a committee and we try to have sub-committees reach out to just about everyone on campus,” Destani said. “For example, we have students from the music department who are going to be presenting. We want to showcase students and their skill sets.”

The committee hopes to expand this conference to show the work done by students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

“To expand the conference we’re going to try to showcase the art gallery and the work that’s being done by the art students. Typically the Academic Excellence Conference really caters to scientific research,” Destani said.

Students who wish to present at the conference work with a faculty or staff mentor. Mentors work with the students to help them prepare or revise the abstract and the presentation. Students are able to revise their abstract if it is not approved at the first submission.

“I think the students who present like it because it is a great resume booster and it is really good practice for later in life,” Bernier said.

Keene State students, faculty staff, donors, parents and community members are invited to attend the conference presentation. Keene State alumni and retired Keene State faculty and staff are also encouraged. 

“The people in town, that’s the hard part I think. How do we get the outreach to the people in town?” Destani said. “If we can somehow draw them in to campus and open the doors.”

Program coordinator for the Academic Excellence Conference Kim Schmidl-Gagne did not respond to a request for comment.

Kelly Regan can be contacted at

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