About

The Beacon Conference's Origins

The Beacon Conference was established by mostly Honors faculty to recognize, celebrate, and showcase the academic achievements of outstanding students at community colleges in the mid-Atlantic region. It is held each year on the first Friday in June, and it encompasses a wide range of disciplines.

The Beacon Conference was born in 1993 when Rockland Community College (NY), with a grant from the American Association of Community Colleges and the Kellogg Foundation, and in association with Bergen Community College (NJ), Brookdale Community College (NJ), Catonsville Community College (MD), Dutchess Community College (NY), Harford Community College (MD), Kingsborough Community College (NY), Middlesex Community/Technical College (CT), Nassau Community College (NY) and Westchester Community College (NY), organized two conferences for student scholars at two-year colleges in the mid-Atlantic region.

Since then, the conference has been sponsored by a coalition of participating community colleges which take turns hosting this event each year the first Friday in June.

How the Conference Works

Students work with faculty members to prepare academic papers.

Students submit their work to the conference by March 1.

Conference directors and their team anonymize the papers, divide the papers into groups based on topic and/or field, and send them to teams of faculty readers at two-year colleges in the region.

Readers rank the papers, and the writers of the top three papers are invited to prepare a 20-minute talk to participate as Panel Competitors in a field- or topic-specific panel at the conference, which is always held on the first Friday in June. Runners up and writers of great research that falls outside existing panel categories are invited to participate as Poster Presenters in a poster session.

Panel Competitors prepare their talk and any visual aids (a slide deck in PowerPoint, for example), and Poster Presenters prepare a short talk and a professional poster.

On the first Friday in June, the conference is held. Panel Competitors give their presentations before a judge — a full-time faculty member at a four-year college or university in the region — and anyone else attending the panel. After the competitors have given their talks, the judge has an opportunity to ask questions before opening the floor to questions from the audience.

Poster Presenters participate in an afternoon session to which all attendees of the conference are invited: a smorgasbord of research presentations, each of which is given several times to the small groups of people who gather according to their interests or whims.

After each panel session concludes, the session’s judge returns to the Judges’ Room to record comments on each competitor and to identify a Panel Award Winner.

Once judges have submitted their decisions and comments, the conference directors rapidly prepare materials for the concluding ceremony, then hold the concluding ceremony, recognizing participants and award winners, and participants and award winners leave with certificates in hand.

Panel Award Winners and their mentors receive a monetary award/honorarium by mail, and papers by Panel Award Winners are compiled into the conference proceedings and published on the conference’s website in June or early July.

Conference Hosts and Annual Proceedings

The table below lists conference years, host colleges, college presidents during the host year, co-directors, and annual proceedings. Links to the proceedings open in a new tab or window.

Year Host College College President Co-Directors Annual Proceedings
1993 Rockland Community College, NY John Flynn (acting) Libby Bay, Bob Kahn, and Nancy Hazelton Proceedings 1993
1994 Rockland Community College, NY Neil Raisman Libby Bay, Bob Kahn, and Nancy Hazelton Proceedings 1994
1995 Dutchess Community College, NY D. David Conklin Judy Kohl and John Desmond Proceedings 1995
1996 Harford Community College, MD Claudia Chiesi Sheila Allen and Lilly Downs Proceedings 1996
1997 Westchester Community College, NY Joseph N. Hankin Carol Klein and Mira Sakrajda Proceedings 1997
1998 Bergen Community College, NJ Judith Winn George Skau, Geoffrey Sadock, and Bob Kahn Proceedings 1998
1999 Dutchess Community College, NY D. David Conklin John Desmond and Seemi Ahmad Proceedings 1999
2000 Rockland Community College, NY George Hamada Libby Bay, Nancy Hazelton, and Wilma Frank Proceedings 2000
2001 Lehigh Carbon Community College, PA Donald W. Snyder Ned Schillow and Carrie Myers Proceedings 2001
2002 Westchester Community College, NY Joseph N. Hankin Carol Klein and Mira Sakrajda Proceedings 2002
2003 Ulster County Community College, NY Donald C. Katt Michelle Rodden and Miho Kawai Proceedings 2003
2004 Northampton Community College, PA Arthur Scott Nancy Trautmann and Elizabeth Bodien Proceedings 2004
2005 Montgomery College, MD Charlene R. Nunley Dedee Aleccia and Tom Anderson Proceedings 2005
2006 Dutchess Community College, NY D. David Conklin Seemi Ahmad, Mark Condon, and Keith O'Neill Proceedings 2006
2007 Rockland Community College, NY Cliff L. Wood Elaine Toia and Thomas Butler Proceedings 2007
2008 Bergen Community College, NJ Jeremiah Ryan Dorothy Altman, Alan Kaufman, and Maria Makowiecka Proceedings 2008
2009 Montgomery College, MD Brian Johnson Roxanne Davidson, Lucy Laufe, Bette Petrides, and Carole Wolin Proceedings 2009
2010 Orange County Community College, NY Bill Richards Mary Ann Van Benschoten and Melissa Browne Proceedings 2010
2011 Lehigh Carbon Community College, PA Donald W. Snyder Ned Schillow and Christine Bowditch Proceedings 2011
2012 Westchester Community College, NY Joseph N. Hankin Mira Sakrajda and Lori Maida Proceedings 2012
2013 Northampton Community College, PA Mark H. Erickson Nancy Trautmann, Randy Boone, and Shauna Gobble Proceedings 2013
2014 Ulster County Community College, NY Donald C. Katt Deb Waller-Frederick, Jennifer Patterson, and Crystal Schacter Proceedings 2014
2015 Rockland Community College, NY Cliff L. Wood Kristopher Baker, Thomas Butler, and Robert Fuentes Proceedings 2015
2016 Bergen Community College, NJ B. Kaye Walter Sarah Shurts and Maria Makowiecka Proceedings 2016
2017 Orange County Community College, NY Kristine M. Young Michele Iannuzzi Sucich, Stephanie Wish, and Samuel Dillon Proceedings 2017
2018 Montgomery College, MD DeRionne P. Pollard Effie Siegel and Lucy Laufe Proceedings 2018
2019 Lehigh Carbon Community College, PA Ann Bieber Jonathan Sponsler and Holly Morris