Mount Mercy University received approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for its Quality Initiative project, Pathways to Scholarship. The university is participating in the launch of a new HLC accreditation model that includes a campus-specific improvement project, the Quality Initiative. Mount Mercy's two-year project placed special focus on energizing scholarship by encouraging faculty and student engagement in research and creative work, both individually and through collaborative teams.
As part of the Pathways to Scholarship initiative, the university appointed faculty member Dr. Dennis Dew to serve as undergraduate research coordinator. Dew is also assistant professor of psychology at Mount Mercy. In his role as coordinator, he works closely with faculty and students interested or involved in scholarship projects. Students can apply through this program to work with faculty members as research/creative assistants, receiving funding while they learn about the research process in their fields of interest. Students and faculty from a broad range of majors have already participated in these opportunities.
Through its successful Quality Initiative, Mount Mercy's campus has seen an increase in faculty-student partnerships in addition to individual research projects. To raise awareness of these activities and share the knowledge gained, the university hosts an undergraduate scholarship festival each spring. Presentations from more than 80 students, mentored by over 30 faculty, were shared at the 2012 event.
Topics included development and implementation of an EMR (Electronic Medical Records) System for the Department of Nursing, "Understanding the Molecular Mechanism of Glaucoma: Testing the Interaction Between Wild Type and Mutant of Lyst and Casien Kinase II Proteins," and "The Effects of Common Herbicide and Fertilizer on Earthworm Burrowing Behavior."
Mount Mercy faculty members also have several annual campus opportunities to present their findings. During a Faculty Summer Scholarship Share this fall, faculty members presented studies of the electoral voting process, art and ancient work in Nepal, and World War II novels that have been adapted to film, among many others. Implementation of summer scholarship funding for faculty and student scholarly work is a major accomplishment of the Pathways to Scholarship initiative, according to Mount Mercy Provost Melody Graham, who cited a large increase in both faculty and student scholarly work.
Although the formal Pathways to Scholarship project has concluded, its main components are continuing. This ongoing energy will bring more faculty and students into the dynamic scholarship process, building collaborative relationships which foster discovery and sharing of knowledge.
"This is a significant step for Mount Mercy University and a moment to celebrate our collective efforts to strengthen and share the scholarly activity on campus," Graham said.
For more information on Mount Mercy's scholarship opportunities, visit www.mtmercy.edu/fest-info.