West Virginia Universitys Department of Philosophy in recent months has been the subject of glowing write-ups in state newspapers, trade publications and even Sports Illustrated.

Another accomplishment will be notched by the department on Saturday (April 14) when it hosts its first-ever undergraduate national conferencea gathering made all the more notable since it was organized solely by the students of the department.

This has been pretty fun to watch,visiting professor Andrew Cullison said of the conference that will be from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Mountaineer Room of the Mountainlair student union.

There are plenty of conferences for philosophy professors and graduate students,he said,but hardly any for undergrads. And Im betting ours might be the only one in the country organized entirely by students. This is just a fantastic effort. Im proud of them and very, very impressed.

The conference features an impressive speaker: Dr. Michael McKenna, a nationally known scholar on free will and personal responsibility, who will deliver keynote remarks. Hes a University of Florida professor who has penned several well-received textbooks and scholarly articles in his field.

Dr. McKennas a marquee name among philosophers,Cullison said.His appearance here also shows what a good job our students did planning this conference.

The conference was organized by students Allison Lastinger, Racquel Spencer, Justin Snedegar, Mathias Callison, Jeff Mahaney, Chad Geary and Brandon DeMattias. They lined up McKenna as speaker and put the call out for national papers on the politics and particulars of free will.

Four students from the University of Cincinnati, the College of Wooster, Middle Tennessee State University and SUNY Geneseo will present their papers at Saturdays conference.

WVU s Department of Philosophy is perhaps best-known nationally for THE QUESTION , a series of ponderables fromWhen is war OK?toAre NASCAR drivers athletes?that department chair Sharon Ryan began posing to school-age youngsters two years ago.

THE QUESTION got the attention of Sports Illustrated in January after Ryan asked Mountaineer football coach Rich Rodriguez and several student-athletes,Is winning everything?during the days leading up to WVU s Gator Bowl match-up with Georgia Tech on New Years Day.