History of MAUPRC
From its modest beginning as the annual Tri-State Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference (UPRC) in 1982, the Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference (MAUPRC) has grown to become one of the largest and most successful of its kind in the United States, and it has served as a model for the development of a number of similar conferences across the country.
In the last paragraph of an article entitled “Undergraduate Research in Psychology: Assessment and Directions,” published in the journal Teaching of Psychology (Palladino, Carsrud, Hulicka, & Benjamin, 1982), the authors wrote the following: “The future of undergraduate research seems bright. There seems to be a growing willingness to assure that undergraduate research is being nurtured and rewarded.”
Dr. Joe Palladino, the first author of the aforementioned article, organized the first conference at Indiana State University at Evansville, now the University of Southern Indiana (USI). The 1982 conference featured 20 presentations by students from 7 different institutions representing Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. The conference remained the Tri-State UPRC until 1985, when it was officially renamed the Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference.
After the conference was held at USI from 1982-1989, a decision was made to have other institutions serve as hosts, in part to expand the geographical range of the conference. Concomitantly, sponsorship for the conference was assumed by a consortium of five institutions: Butler University, Franklin College, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Marian College, and the University of Indianapolis. The 1990 conference was held at Franklin College, and attendance increased to 151, with 72 presentations from 23 institutions and 5 states: Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
Eastern Illinois University joined the consortium to sponsor the conference in 1992, and they hosted the conference for the first time in 1993. The University of Southern Indiana was welcomed back into sponsorship when they hosted the conference in 1994. In April of 1995, the 14th annual MAUPRC was again hosted by Franklin College, with a record number of 288 in attendance; there were 156 presentations from 28 institutions representing 8 states.
Beginning in 2000, MAUPRC has been hosted by 5 different institutions, the same ones that comprise the current co-sponsors of the conference: Eastern Illinois University, Earlham College, Franklin College, Thomas More College, and the University of Southern Indiana. Fittingly, the 25th annual conference, in 2006, was held at the institution where it all began – the University of Southern Indiana, and Joe Palladino gave the keynote address. In 2018, MAUPRC welcomed Ball State University as a co-sponsor of the conference.
Although the number of presentations (and attendees) varies from year to year, the conference continues to serve as a culminating experience for undergraduate researchers in psychology, typically featuring about 100 student presentations and 200 attendees annually. For example, in the 5 years from 2014-2018, the conference drew an average of 199 attendees and 101 presentations, representing an average of 23 institutions from 6 different states.
Even with its remarkable growth, the original goal of the conference remains the same: to recognize and encourage research by undergraduate psychology students by providing them with the opportunity to present their research in a professional setting, with the unqualified support of their fellow students and the faculty sponsors and moderators. The extraordinary success of the conference is a testimony to the commitment of the sponsoring institutions and the executive committee members to this goal.