Mary Baldwin University’s annual Capstone Festival returns on Thursday, May 11, featuring scholarly and artistic work from 18 seniors in the undergraduate programs and covering a wide variety of topics, including gender roles in American society, wartime profit, and the music of The Wizard of Oz.

The closing reception for the event, which highlights Mary Baldwin’s emphasis on undergraduate research, will also serve as a Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event, during which members can meet incoming GARCC President and CEO Annette Medlin. The reception is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in MBU’s Lyda B. Hunt Dining Hall.

Capstone Festival 2016

“We’re thrilled to support Mary Baldwin University’s Capstone Festival, where the best and brightest academic work is on display for our entire community to see,” said Linda Hershey, outgoing president and CEO of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Events like this accentuate our unique town-gown partnership and showcase the sort of robust research and scholarship happening right in our backyard.”

Every MBU student must present a senior thesis before graduating, and the Festival provides a chance for top students to showcase their work to the wider community. The event is open to the public and modeled after an earlier version of “commencement” at Mary Baldwin Seminary, when, according to historian Pat Menk, “all final examinations were held in public and members of the board of trustees and the townspeople attended to view students parse sentences, do intricate math problems, and recite soliloquies.”

Hershey, who steps down from her post in GARCC this month, partnered with MBU on this year’s Capstone Festival, helping bridge the university and community ties.

“On a personal note, I’ve very much enjoyed working with MBU’s Advisory Board of Visitors to recruit coaches and judges for the Capstone Festival,” Hershey said. “Connecting these bright students with mentors from the community has been rewarding, especially when I see the finished product — their professional presentations — on display at the festival.”

Lydia Petersson, director of sponsored programs and undergraduate research at MBU, has been impressed at the power the event has to bring the campus together. “Before we started the Festival in 2006,” said Petersson, “students would present their projects to the faculty in their own departments, but no one else would have a chance to see the results of their research. Now, students, families, and faculty in all fields share in the excitement. Everyone loves Capstone.”

The event, which begins at 12:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. See the Capstone Festival website for a full schedule and details on student work.