• Julia Straka

From Crisis to Celebration: Campus Responds

Popular live event pivots to online sensation!

StudioBDC Producer Brian McClure and Dean Patrice Rankine, University of Richmond School of Arts & Sciences

When COVID-19 swept across the U.S.last spring, college campuses shut down and thousands of twenty-year-olds moved back in with their parents.


Thanks to technology, classes resumed online, but not all academics fit conveniently into Zoom’s gallery view. For example, University of Richmond’s School of Arts and Sciences (A&S) "Spring Student Symposium." The tradition features hundreds of students presenting research, papers and projects, while interacting live with each other in real time.


When faculty realized that hosting the symposium during a pandemic would require some innovation, the school enlisted StudioBDC’s Brian McClure and created an online version of the event titled “2020 Celebration Spring.” After much discussion and attention to the rapidly changing pandemic, 2020 Celebration Spring was published as “an opportunity to celebrate those student researchers who missed their symposium,” said A&S Dean Patrice Rankine.


For seniors, who unknowingly left campus forever before Spring Break without a proper goodbye, it was a way to celebrate their year, even as graduation was cancelled. Professor Monika Siebert, the symposium faculty coordinator, observed that the 2020 Spring Celebration will be a “reminder of the vibrant community of learners we have nourished together at the university.”

Siebert planned the traditional 2020 Student Symposium with McClure and A&S Content Coordinator Kästle Aschliman. The online pivot tasked the team with collecting and curating more than 300 student projects, 100 awards, photographs,, videos, blurbs and a handful multimedia presentations — all in just a few weeks.


Over the spring semester, McClure and Aschliman together had led the A&S Communications Collective, a program for training a talented team of students creating marketing and communications campaigns. The students produced graphics and content as well for the original event, which were then transitioned online.


Though it may not have been as interactive as past symposiums, 2020 Spring Celebration provides a lasting record of A&S achievement and discovery. The online archive will grow as more students submit their work over the summer.


“This isn’t how anyone envisioned this school year ending, but I think the publication is a lovely snapshot of all the milestones the Arts & Sciences community achieved this year,” Aschliman said.


Sample the production by linking the image above or here.

Julia Straka interns as a production assistant for StudioBDC

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