Faculty members express gratitude for retreat opportunity

York Faculty Retreat2

Faculty members from five campuses gathered for a retreat in early September where they could work and collaborate with colleagues in a quiet setting.  The event was organized by Penn State York and sponsored through the campus, a teaching innovation grant from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, and Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) at University Park.  Some of the faculty members from the York campus who took part in the retreat included , left to right, Amber Seidel, associate professor of human development and family studies; Joan Smeltzer, assistant teaching professor in mathematics; Joy Giguere, assistant professor of history, seated;  and Nicole Muscanell, assistant professor of psychology.

Credit: Suzanne Shaffer

Faculty members from five Penn State campuses attended a daylong writing retreat at the Inn at Wyndridge Farm in York, Pennsylvania, on Friday Sept. 6. The retreat was sponsored by a teaching innovation grant from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT), and Penn State York.

There were 24 faculty members who gathered at the Inn to work on writing and teaching projects and connect with other Penn State faculty.

“This retreat supports our practice as working scholars and teachers,” said Jennifer Nesbitt, associate professor of English at Penn State York and facilitator of the writing group.

York Faculty Retreat1

An off-campus location gave faculty members time to work without distractions and discuss topics with other colleagues as they wished.

Credit: Suzanne Shaffer

The idea for a retreat came from a Penn State York faculty group who met weekly in the library last academic year to support each other’s writing efforts toward publication. Seeing the advantages of this model, which provided quiet space for writing as well as social support, faculty wanted to expand their efforts and impact.“

Participants from Penn State Harrisburg, Hershey, Mont Alto, Lehigh Valley, and York campuses reported a high level of satisfaction with the experience, and commented in a similar vein on the evaluations as “feeling supported and valued by the University.”

Jackie Schwab, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Mont Alto commented, “It made me realize the value of being away from the office or home where there are so many distractions.”

“Aesthetics matter,” observed Suzanne Shaffer, instructional designer at Penn State York who helped to plan the day. “Wyndridge Farm is a beautiful setting. The expansive views and pastoral location really inspired creative and scholarly work,” she said.
The participants also enjoyed the social aspects of the day, and the quiet.

York Faculty Retreat

The faculty retreat provided a time for participants to work quietly and connect with colleagues from other campuses.

Credit: Suzanne Shaffer

“I was able to consider new ways for us to evaluate student interns and was able to help a peer with MoralMoments.psu.edu  [integration into a class], providing design tips and suggestions,” said Jessica Dow, lecturer and career strategist at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

“Teaching and research can be isolating and lonely endeavors from inside our classrooms and offices,” said Shaffer.  “Giving faculty an opportunity to connect socially and work quietly side-by-side in a beautiful setting proved to be a model that was appreciated by faculty and which also inspired a high level of productivity. In the end, participants expressed a deep level of gratitude to the funders who made this retreat possible,” Shaffer stated.