A little over a year ago when Kris Peterson and Melissa Thomas, the SAC Co-Chairs, along with Peggy Sellers, sat down for a meeting of the SAC Development Committee, they began to dream and envision an enhanced SAC fall luncheon that would offer additional professional development opportunities for the non-exempt staff. After talking with Karyn Jeffrey in the Human Resources Office, this small vision was expanded to include a combined SAC and Forum event. The idea was stretched further when Forum members Doug Foxgrover and Mike Hendel joined the mix, and suggestions for speakers and themes bounced around and gained momentum. And, with Fred Roger’s approval the SAC and The Forum Retreat began.

In the late spring of 2005, the core committee considered themes of “Carleton and Progress,” “Personal Development,” and “Change at the College and in our Jobs” and began to develop a theme of a road and moving forward. After contemplating flat tires, lug nuts, and AAA cards, they came up with a title for the retreat “The Road Ahead.” In the fall, the committee was expanded and finally included:

Jennifer Cox Johnson, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching
Doug Foxgrover, Information Technology Systems
Patt Germann, Art and Art History Department and Science Education Resource Center
Robbie Groth, Business Office
Mike Hendel, Career Center
Karyn Jeffrey, Human Resources
Linda Mueller, Admissions
Patty Olson, Information Technology Services
Kris Peterson, Career Center
Carolyn Soule, English Department
Melissa Thomas, Dean of the College Office

This group finalized the speaker lineup, developed the breakout sessions, and worked on both large ideas such as the vision of Carleton’s future and small details like pens for the folders and the luncheon menu.

The event was first publicized at the beginning of November and by the day of the Retreat, the astonishing number of 232 staff members had signed up to attend.

The day began with a fast-moving, flashing video presentation created by Lew Weinberg of the newly-formed PEPs (Presentation, Events, and Production Support) Group. The video projected pictures of almost every staff member onto a screen that also included phrases of going forward and movement such as “go go go,” “be the future,” “make it new,” etc. all set to a medley of up-tempo road songs.

Everyone gathered up a continental breakfast and took their seats for the dynamic keynote speaker, Tracy Knofla. Who, in an up-beat, comical, and inspiring presentation that started with her now-famous “WooHoo!” began the day with a powerful message about communication in the workplace. After the keynote speaker, we broke out into smaller sessions that are listed in the program. And, on to a delicious lunch orchestrated by Ruthanna Miller and Joe Winegardner and served by their excellent staff.

The Day ended with Doug Foxgrover’s powerpoint presentation that featured a favorite quote of both Red Green and Rob Oden “We’re all in this Together,” and ended with a humorous staff prayer that rounded off the theme of “The Road Ahead.”

When the evaluation sheets began to come in, the committee realized it had a hit on its hands that may become a tradition. Below are a few, selected comments to the question: What was the most valuable part of this retreat?:

“Everyone getting together to be motivated and inspired as a group. It was great!”
“Call it an “Advance” instead of a Retreat! The most valuable part was seeing people from other offices.”
“Getting together with colleagues, hearing about Carleton’s plans for the future”
“Opportunity to network and spend time with a great staff!! Keynote speaker was great-fun, but informative”
“Panels on directions “road ahead” or campus were a highlight of the day”
“The keynote speaker, Tracy. She was motivating and uplifting. Helped us see what we know in a new light, with afresh perspective.”
“Wow-the PEPS presentation was exciting”

We invite the people who were there to enjoy this collection of follow-up webpages and hope that people who weren’t able to attend will enjoy it too and be inspired to attend next year’s retreat.

We hope to see you all next year at the Retreat.
The Retreat Planning Committee