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Chairing a Session





The success of Academic Excellence Showcase is dependent upon the many faculty and staff that serve as session chairs.  Session chairs play a critical role in developing sessions that best fit the needs of their discipline or program including promoting participation from their colleagues and students and managing student submissions.  Session chairs serve as an important link between the PURE coordinator who steers the AES planning committee and the presenting students with their sponsoring faculty or staff member.  Please consider chairing a session at this year’s showcase!

Note that all session chairs must sign up using the session chair submission form. Verbal or email confirmation is not sufficient.

Sessions at the Academic Excellence Showcase are reserved for student work, presented by students. However, certain other events such as award ceremonies, gallery receptions, guided tours and guest speakers may still qualify for inclusion in the printed AES program. You can learn more about scheduling an event and inclusion in the AES proceedings here.



We encourage session chairs of all Session Types to announce your requested session to fellow colleagues and students in your discipline. You might consider developing a “Call for Presentations” and disseminating it to colleagues in your discipline via email and by including it in appropriate Department or Division meetings and announcements. To learn about the student proposal to present requirements and learn how you can best support students in making submissions to your session, please visit the “Student” section of our website.




When requesting a session at AES you will be asked to make decisions about the format in which student work will be presented and the type of session that best meets your needs. The session request form will guide you though making these decisions. Because the form will guide you and since your submitted request remains editable until the closing deadline, we recommend that you complete the submission form as soon as you know you wish to have a session. An overview of all possible session Formats and Types is presented below. Note that some session formats have only one session type, while other formats will require you to select the session type that best meet your needs.


Formats of SEssions


Panel Discussions

Panels are useful for communicating views and experiences by a group of presenters who have worked on the same project or topic. One variation is to follow the presentation of papers with a panel discussion. The authors of the papers as well as other experts may participate in the panel.

Session Types: Group


Poster Sessions are an alternative, interactive method of presenting papers.  Presenters post their papers and any other pertinent data on a bulletin board. Attendees may then discuss the paper with the speaker and gain additional input from other attendees.  Poster sessions are held in a single large room for a period of two hours where attendees can casually visit posters of interest and discuss their content with poster presenters.  Contact the WOU print shop (8-8440, printshop@wou.edu) for information about printing and production of posters.

Session Types: Poster


Presentations may follow different formats, such a longer, more formal symposium based on an academic paper. The total time devoted to a specific paper is generally 15 or 30 minutes including discussion time.

Another presentation format is an artist’s talk, in which visual artists share images of artwork (projected slides, projected digital images, or actual work) and discuss their approach, methods and content. Note that students of Art History can also present papers (in a symposium-style presentation).

Session Types: Group, Open, Sponsored


Students in theatre, dance, and music may present short performances. Care will be taken to schedule performances in rooms appropriate for successful presentation quality.  Note that students of history and theory in performing arts can also present papers, symposium-style (which falls under the Presentation category).

Session Types: Sponsored, Group







Group Session:

The Group session will be a collaborative effort of various students who will be recognized as a body of students rather than individually. If you want to identify the presenters or performers, you can include them into the session description. Student Submissions will not be needed.

  • Propose Session Topic
  • Provide session details including a title, preferred time of day and Equipment/AV needs
  • Write a description of the combined pieces to be presented which will be included in the proceedings
  • Select and work with students to cultivate the content of your session

Sponsored Session:

A Sponsored Session is a session for which student submissions are by invitation only, and are reviewed and approved by both the faculty or staff sponsor and again by the session sponsor. Student presentations are scheduled by the session chair(s) and may be of variable lengths. Student submissions for Sponsored Sessions are due the first week of spring term.

  • Propose a session topic
  • Provide session details including a title, preferred time of day, Equipment/AV needs
  • Invite students to present in the session (students present in this session by invitation only)
  • Ensure all student submissions are received by the early-bird submission deadline of April 4th
  • Review student submissions
  • Organize presentations into a preferred order
  • Choose a preferred time length for each presentation (5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45 or 60 minutes)
  • Approve a final proof of the session material prior to print production.

Open Session:

An Open Session is a session for which student submissions may be either solicited or unsolicited, but are reviewed and approved by the faculty/staff sponsor (mentoring faculty or staff member). The presentations are scheduled in 15-minute slots by the AES committee into the requested session. Student submissions for Open Sessions are due week five of spring term.

  • Propose a session topic
  • Provide session details including a title and Equipment/AV needs
  • Solicit student submissions (solicited and unsolicited student presenters may be scheduled for this session)
  • Encourage solicited students to meet the main submission deadline of May 1st
  • Remind students that entries will be printed as submitted with minor adjustments to meet WOU’s style guide and AES standards

Poster Session:

Poster sessions are large multidisciplinary displays of student work arranged into disciplinary or thematic groupings. Student submissions may be either solicited or unsolicited and during submission the student author will indicate their preference for disciplinary or thematic poster group. The final order of the posters within the session room is set by the AES committee. Student submissions for Poster Sessions are due week five of spring term.

  • Propose a theme or discipline around which posters may be grouped.
  • Solicit student submissions (solicited and unsolicited student presenters may be scheduled for this session)
  • Encourage solicited students to meet the main submission deadline of May 1st
  • Remind students that entries will be printed as submitted with minor adjustments to meet WOU’s style guide and AES standards


    Deadlines and Managing your session

    Meeting Deadlines:

    It is important to stay aware of the deadline most relevant to your session. A table summarizing all deadlines for this year’s Showcase can be found on our website here.

    Organizing and Preparing your Session

    The organizational, review and preparatory responsibilities of a session chair depend on what type of session is being chaired. A full description of these responsibilities can be found in the table above. A few key points to remember:

    • Students work directly with the session chair in a group format and do not make individual submissions.
    • Students must submit a title, abstract and author information to be included in Sponsored, Open and Poster type sessions. See the our website section for students to learn more about student submissions.
    • A sponsoring faulty or staff member is required for all student submissions. This ensures the quality of work at AES. As a session chair you may be communicating with other faculty/staff who are the sponsors. Alternatively, if you are working directly with students you may wish to sever as both the session chair and the sponsoring faculty for some or all of the presentations in your session. Please see “sponsoring a presenter” to learn more about this role.
    • Only chairs of Sponsored type Sessions will be able to organize the order of presentations in their session and set a desired time length for each individual presentation. To make this possible student submissions must be received by the “early bird deadline“.
    • Only chairs of Sponsored type Sessions, will have direct access to view a spreadsheet of submission to their session and directly edit student submissions (i.e. titles and abstracts). However all faculty/staff identified as sponsors will be notified when a student makes a submission and are encouraged to work with the student to edit and refine the submission before the final deadline.

    In addition to soliciting submissions to your session, it is the session chairs responsibility to communicate regularly during winter and spring terms with faculty/staff sponsoring students in your session or directly with students (if you are combining the roles of session chair and sponsoring faculty/staff) to keep them aware of deadlines and progressing satisfactorily towards having work to present in your session.

    If you have further questions about your responsibilities as a session chair at AES, feel free to contact the AES team at aes@wou.edu.

    The Week of Showcase

    On the day of showcase session chairs play an important role in maintaining a professional atmosphere and keeping showcase running smoothly and on schedule.  Please consider the following tips and recommendations:

    • One week prior to the meeting, communicate with each presenter to reconfirm session arrangements, schedules and plans regarding their participation at the showcase. Instruct them to arrive at the session room 30 minutes prior to the start of the session to receive last-minute instructions.
    • On the day of showcase or the day before Showcase you may pick up your AES session chair badge and session chair informational and resource packet from the AES information desk (lower level WUC lobby across from the Pacific Room). Please have student come collect their own badges.
    • On the day of showcase before your session begins, arrive to the session room well in advance of the session and check that your speakers have all arrived and that you have all necessary A/V equipment.
    • There may be a session aide in your meeting room. The aide will be available to help with the distribution of materials or tickets, and to help with other duties, such as dimming the lights for during presentations, seating late arrival audience members or presiding over the time limit for each presentation.
    • During your session, please keep your speakers on schedule.  If a scheduled presenter has been canceled or the presenter is a “no show,” fill the extra time with discussion or a break.  Do not advance subsequent presentations ahead of the schedule printed in the Showcase Program.
    • Check the A/V equipment and microphones. Make sure you know how to operate the audiovisual equipment that is being used in the session and that everything is in working order ahead of time. If you do not know how to use the equipment, you may ask a Session Aide to contact the A/V Coordinator and they will send someone to the room to show you. If you or your speakers are using videotape, make sure the equipment is operating properly. Test the microphones if one is provided. If you have a student giving a virtual presentation from another location during your session, we highly recommend scheduling a test run during the week before showcase. For assistance with virtual presenters please contact the AES team (aes@wou.edu) and indicate that you need assistance with virtual presentation.
    • Session Attendance.  The Showcase planning committee has adopted an attendance verification system so that faculty members can document individual student attendance. This strategy involves the distribution of “tickets” following each presentation.  Session Aides can be used to facilitate the orderly dissemination of tickets. Handing out verification tickets is optional and you are welcome to decide that you do not want to hand them out at your session.
    • For questions regarding session information, please contact the Showcase Planning Committee.


    Academic Excellence Showcase

    (503) 838-9500 | or e-mail: howarda@wou.edu