Four trophies in various bright colors

Trophies that will be awarded during the Honors Council of the Illinois Region Student Symposium on Saturday, Feb. 24, were designed and printed in the SIU Carbondale honors design lab. (Photo provided)

February 19, 2024

SIU Carbondale to host statewide honors student research symposium, Feb. 23-24

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Students from higher education honors programs and colleges from throughout Illinois will showcase their creativity and work when Southern Illinois University Carbondale hosts the Honors Council of the Illinois Region (HCIR) Student Symposium, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24.

About 40 students will present papers, posters, and performances during the Feb. 24 conference in Morris Library. This is the first time SIU Carbondale is hosting the annual event, said Jyotsna Kapur, SIU University Honors Program director.

“Honors education is a growing trend in higher education and a work-in-progress,” Kapur said. “Its organization and structure — for example, how courses are offered, where a program is housed, who the faculty are — vary across institutions. However, what is common across all are certain key values — comprehensive and interdisciplinary inquiry, ethos of collaborative and active education, and service to the community.

“At SIU Carbondale, this is encapsulated in our motto: ‘Learn. Lead. Serve.’ Because of the agility of honors programs, it is really important for students, staff and faculty to meet peers in other institutions as we co-create an education that crosses disciplinary boundaries and centers on the full development of the student.”

David Rhea, HCIR president and interim dean of the honors college at Governors State University, will give the opening address at 8:50 a.m. Feb. 24 in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. Zoology senior Sarah Lukavsky, who is also an undergraduate research assistant in SIU’s School of Biological Sciences and president of SIU’s Honors Assembly, will also speak.

Media availability

Reporters, photographers and news crews are invited to attend the Feb. 24 panel discussions and other events in Morris Library to interview students and faculty. For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Elizabeth Donoghue, University Honors Program assistant director and adviser, major scholarships, at 618-453-3471 or

Four separate panels are planned during the conference, starting at 9:15 a.m. A lunch workshop starting at 12:15 p.m. in the library’s Hall of Presidents will examine “Student Governance and the Mental Health Crisis in Higher Education: What can be done about it?” There will also be poster presentations throughout the day in the library’s Guyon Rotunda. The award ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Guyon Auditorium.

SIU honors students will participate in panel discussions with SIU faculty serving as panel moderators, Kapur said. Being part of the broader honors community opens up opportunities that are unique to honors students, she said. Honors students, along with faculty and staff from Elmhurst University, Governors State University, Harper College, McKendree University, Western Illinois University and the College of DuPage will attend.

“This gives us an opportunity to showcase what makes the SIU Carbondale honors program distinctive – it is our commitment to sustainability as an overarching goal of education that we pursue through our curriculum, research, service and campus activities,” Kapur said.

Kapur mentioned that the symposium’s award trophies were designed and printed in the honors design lab by Lingguo Bu, a professor of elementary education. Bu and Grant Miller, an associate professor of elementary education, co-teach “Making Math Fun for Children,” a popular honors program seminar where students learn mathematical principles through designing 3D toys and then trying them out with local grade-school age children. Day Starr-Fleming, an SIU honors student in the College of Arts and Media, designed the conference T-shirt that carries an outline design of Bucky’s Haven, an outdoor picnic pavilion on campus, with a quote by Fuller.

On Friday, Feb. 23, participating students will tour the Buckminster Fuller Dome Home in Carbondale, followed by dinner in the Student Center’s Old Main Room.