April 22, 2010

ALLIANCE, Ohio?"My closing comments will be different than usual because I can normally find a common link between all of the presentations," said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Sandra Tracy in concluding Mount Union College's Faculty Research Forum on April 4. "However, this forum's presentation was unique because it encompassed several different disciplines."

The forum was hosted by Dr. Santosh Saha, professor of history, and was moderated by Dr. Thomas Carr, assistant professor of religion and philosophy.

Speakers included Dr. Ann Ritchey, associate professor of mathematics, Frank Tascone, instructor of English, and Dr. Gregg Courtad, assistant professor of Spanish.

Ritchey's presentation was entitled "Geometry in Islamic Art." In a Power Point presentation, she exhibited examples of ancient to pre-modern Islamic art that contained geometric patterns, all of which, she explained, could be constructed using a compass and a straight edge.

Nevertheless, she marveled, the result was "beautiful to look at." The Islamic preoccupation with the circle as the base for patterns is due to the Islamic faith. It signified the unending law of God, and its one center represented either the monotheistic belief in Allah or the center of Islamic worship, Mecca.

Next, Tascone presented his original short story, "Away." Permeated with religious imagery and lively humor, the story dealt with issues of love and contentment in society's working class.

The main character is Gary, whose delusional, religious fanatic mother once believed he was the antichrist. He falls in love with Rina, an attractive free spirit who does not reciprocate his feelings. The story ends in a bittersweet culmination as Gary experiences an epiphany about Rina's level of satisfaction with life?and his own.

Courtad presented an informational piece entitled "From Idealism to Pragmatism: The Development of Foreign Language Profiency Testing at Mount Union College."

Courtad chronicled the difficult process Mount Union's foreign language department undertook when choosing the format of the foreign language proficiency test that incoming freshman would take. The most arduous task, according to Courtad, was balancing the visionary goals of the foreign language department with the logistics of such a project.

Held biannually, this semester's Faculty Forum was slightly different than previous programs, omitting discussant responses in order to provide more time for the question and answer period.

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