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2010 News Releases

Longwood retreat fosters faculty/staff collaboration

August 26, 2010

Rapid Resource Exchange Retreat Longwood faculty and staff explored possible collaborations in the recent retreat

A recent Longwood University retreat used a format compared to "speed dating" and was punctuated by the blowing of a vuvuzela, a long, loud horn used by soccer fans.

The event, however, didn't have anything to do with romance or sports. It was part of an ongoing Longwood effort to nurture collaboration among various segments of the campus community that supports learning inside and outside the classroom. "Rapid Resource Exchange," held Aug. 9 in Blackwell Hall, was the second annual exchange hosted by the Academic Affairs/Student Affairs Collaboration Team. The team's purpose is to develop opportunities for collaborative relationships and initiatives that enhance student engagement throughout and across the learning environment.

The retreat seeks to foster personal connections among faculty, Student Affairs professionals, and campus partners; to sustain collaboration by identifying courses into which co-curricular programming can be incorporated to supplement student learning; and to identify co-curricular programs and campus events that can be developed to complement and enhance existing curriculum. Representatives of Student Affairs and selected campus partners interacted with faculty members who rotated briefly among eight tables, picking up information and exploring ways to collaborate.

"The retreat promotes faculty/staff partnerships aimed at enhancing student engagement and the Longwood University learning environment," said Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay, associate director of the Counseling Center, who is the team's convener.

"It provides a way to learn about programs and events on campus and about how faculty and staff can connect them with their learning objectives. We want faculty and staff to always be considering how they can link programs and events with student learning and how they can increase student engagement. This is about building partnerships among faculty, Student Affairs professionals, and campus partners, which includes, for example, the American Democracy Project, the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA), Greenwood Library, and Information and Instructional Technology Services."

Some 34 people, including 12 faculty members, participated in the retreat. Whenever it was time to switch tables, Dr. Chuck Blauvelt, a member of the team, announced it by blowing on a vuvuzela, which gained notoriety during the recent World Cup soccer tournament.

"New connections were made," Walls-McKay said. "For example, Sasha Gregory (Student Health & Wellness Center) learned about testing for hearing (at the Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy and Learning), and she's inviting them to participate in this year's wellness fair. Chris Swanson (music) will redesign one of his courses to integrate an LCVA exhibition. Jennifer Capaldo (music) learned about a performance venue in French Hall, and she also plans to assign a music selection that reflects the period of an LCVA work on display."

Ultimately, these connections benefit the students, said Walls-McKay. "We want students to attend, participate in, and learn from programs and events on campus. One example of this collaboration is that after a hypnotist's performance on campus, students in Eric Laws' psychology class discussed the differences between stage hypnotism and therapeutic hypnosis."

The first Rapid Resource Exchange, in August 2009, attracted 42 faculty and staff. The Academic Affairs/Collaboration Team, which consists of five standing staff members and two faculty members who serve two-year terms, was formed in 2006, meets monthly, and has hosted annual collaborative retreats.

Team members, in addition to Walls-McKay, are Onie McKenzie, associate dean for student affairs; Dr. Geoff Orth, assistant vice president for academic affairs and director of the Honors College; Dr. Ken Perkins, interim vice president for academic affairs; and Dr. Tim Pierson, vice president for student affairs. The other faculty member besides Blauvelt, chair of the Department of Health, Recreation and Kinesiology, is Dr. Naomi Johnson, assistant professor of communication studies. Former faculty members include Dr. Rhonda Brock-Servais and Dr. Eric Laws, chairs of the departments of English & Modern Languages and Psychology, respectively.