As I prepare this column, it is hard to believe that the final days of the spring semester will be upon us next week and our students will begin their preparation for finals. This past year has been a whirlwind of activity encompassing many areas of the campus and our surrounding communities. This year in particular, our campus community has been focusing on and promoting our Academic Excellence and Distinctiveness. The past few weeks have highlighted some of the remarkable activities at SMSU that go beyond the traditional classroom and are open and available for all of our surrounding communities to enjoy.
Several programs and events were held on campus this month that really impressed me and reminded me of the cultural and intellectual impact of SMSU on southwest Minnesota. The Remembrance of The Great War: World War I Commemoration Series, organized by Dr. Jim Zarzana, featured a community presentation by SMSU History professors Dr. Jeff Kolnick and Dr. Tom Williford. This comprehensive series of presentations for the general public will continue over the next five years and will encompass not only history, but also literature, music and the arts while featuring faculty from the various disciplines. Another recent multidiscipline presentation on campus titled, "Wages and Equality: The Past and Future Implications of Wage Disparity in the U.S., featured a panel of faculty and students from the social sciences, business, and education. I found the timing of the presentation very relevant as the state Legislature of Minnesota was engaged in a discussion of its minimum wage law at the same time.
April is also Fine Arts Celebration Month and there have been numerous events and performances featuring the talents of our students and faculty. The theatre program produced a wonderful performance of "The Heiress," the music program has had choral concerts from the Men's Glee Club and Belle Voce and will host their spring Symphonic Band Concert Monday evening to name just a few. In addition, there have been student and faculty readings that showcased the incredible talent in our creative writing program. Of course, a fine arts celebration would not be complete without a performance by Dr. Dan Rieppel and the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra on Sunday afternoon at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts. All of these opportunities, and more, are available to our community before the end of the semester.
Please take the time to experience some of SMSU's academic excellence and distinctiveness for yourself. This is our region's University and we have something for everyone to be a part of and enjoy.