Community Engagement the Focus of University Retreat

jean_decosta.jpgFrom John Wingard, Chair of the Faculty

The Spring 2011 University Retreat takes place Wed., January 26 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Green Music Center. The focus of this year's retreat is community engagement. The keynote speaker, Dr. Jean DeCosta, Dean of Students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (pictured at right), kicks off the morning at 9 a.m. A panel discussion, poster session, community engagement mapping exercise, and small group discussions will round out the day.

Community engagement has been identified as a strategic area in both the University and Academic Affairs strategic plans. A primary objective of this year's retreat is to initiate a dialogue on community engagement among the members of the immediate SSU campus community (faculty, staff, students and administrators) and between the SSU campus community and the broader community. A second goal is to highlight the diverse forms of community engagement that are already taking place.

In order to achieve these goals, several components will comprise the retreat. Dr. Jean DeCosta, Dean of Students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, will deliver the keynote address. Dean DeCosta has been actively engaged in community engagement efforts at her institution. In addition to being a member of the CSU community and, therefore, cognizant of the institutional environment within which we work, she is also a native of Sonoma County, thus familiar with our region.

Following Dean DeCosta's address, there will be a panel discussion. The panel, which is currently being constituted, will include key members of the local, non-campus community with ties to and relationships with SSU. The purpose of the panel discussion is to have a dialogue about the role of SSU in the community.

A key component of the retreat will be posters from diverse range of our colleagues sharing with us their community engagement activities. In addition to highlighting the wide range of community engagement activities we are already engaged in, it will provide an opportunity to take stock of where we are with regard to community engagement. To assist in this, Dr. Margaret Purser will guide us in a community engagement mapping exercise. The poster session will coincide with lunch to allow ample time to review the posters and discuss them with the presenters.

The afternoon will be a time for small group discussions around topics of interest, provide opportunities for networking, synergies and reflection on the mapping exercise. An over arching question for retreat participants is: Do we want community engagement to be a strong SSU identity?

The keynote speech and panel will take place in the Green Music Center Concert Hall beginning at 9 a.m. Posters will be set up between the Concert Hall and Prelude. Afternoon activities will be held in Prelude. The Retreat will end at approximately 3:30 p.m.

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