Staff Retreat

The 2022 Annual Staff Retreat will take place on May 24. Staff Retreat is a time for Westminster staff members to learn from one another and enjoy our community. Faculty members are encouraged to attend the Awards and Recognition Ceremony and reception to celebrate the accomplishments of their staff colleagues.

Register for Staff Retreat

Staff Retreat Schedule

9–10:00 a.m. Professional Development Session 1

  • 1 Hour to Renew and Refocus, Laura Iverson, Virtual Channel A
    • As college staff we spend a lot of time focusing on the needs of others. This can lead us to forget what is actually important to us. In 1 hour, we will re-ignite the spark of what really matters to you, and you will create a plan of how you are going to get there.
  • Disagreements and Feedback: Strategies for Success, AJ Verkouw, Gore 133
    • What is conflict vs. disagreement? How do we engage with difficult conversations, set boundaries, and give feedback in a way that sets all parties up for a chance at success? We'll explore some strategies and ideas that help with this and practice them through scenarios.
  • Empathetic Leadership (9:30–10 a.m.), Dick Chapman, Virtual Channel B
    • Empathy—the ability to relate to others—is a valuable skill as a leader and as part of a team. In our training, we will discuss and explore how expressing empathy and showing compassion can help create a work environment where people feel valued, motivated, and engaged.

10-11:00 a.m. Professional Development Session 2

  • DEI Hiring Practices, Kari Lindsey, Virtual Channel A
    • In 2021, an external organization conducted a thorough investigation into Westminster's mental health landscape for students, staff, and faculty of color. One of the recommendations was to "actively recruit, train, and retain a diverse and culturally competent faculty and professional staff." Following this recommendation, the Student Diversity & Inclusion Center and HR are partnering to bring a workshop on Inclusive Hiring, addressing all aspects of recruiting, training, and retaining a diverse and culturally competent staff.
  • Explore at Westminster: Intro to Pathways and our shared search for meaning, Ryan Braeger, Virtual Channel B
    • Staff and students are connected in their shared search for meaning on campus. How we explore the ties that bind us to our profession holds parallels with the intellectual and identity development of our students. You will be introduced to the ways in which they can help students find their place on campus, and how this work might impact their own sense of professional purpose. This session will include an introduction to the six explorational pathways introduced to students during Griffin GearUp, an overview of the philosophy of exploration in advising appointments, and a discussion about how a celebration of exploration can enhance the invaluable role we play in student support and success.

11-11:30 a.m. Professional Development Session 3

  • Career Competencies: Helping Students Translate their Westminster Experience into Professional Goals, Audrey Clare, Virtual Channel A
    • Do you want to make your work with students more impactful? Join the Career Center for a brief overview of the 8 career competencies, as identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Then explore the myriad ways we can embed these competencies into our daily interactions with students to enhance the Westminster experience and increase their career readiness.
  • Where’s That File Again? Making SharePoint, Teams, and One Drive Work for You, Hannah Thorne, Virtual Channel B
    • Have you been struggling to understand the differences between SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams? Are you wondering where to store your work files or collaborative projects? Would you like these tools to make your work more efficient, not more frustrating? Join me for a 30-minute overview of SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams and learn how to make these tools work for you and your office. We'll cover the differences between each tool, best practices for use, and tips and tricks to level up your team's productivity.
  • Deconstructing Girlboss, Maggie Regier, Gore 133
    • Girlboss Feminism is a popular flavor of feminism that teaches women how to fight to get to the top in a man's world. It’s the Hillary Clinton, power-suit, Bitchy CEO feminism for the everyday woman. Many of us have internalized this messaging about how to be successful. In this workshop we will explore the impact on ourselves in the world and learn how to ditch our inner girlboss.

11–11:30 a.m. Campus Horticulture Tour

  • Come hear about all the amazing horticulture and some of the history of our campus via our grounds team

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Lunch on the Commons

  • Join us on Richer Commons for a buffet lunch from Bon Appetit.

12:30–1:30 p.m. Scavenger Hunt

  • Show off your knowledge of Westminster’s campus and quirks (or learn about them, if you’re new) through fun activities and challenges. You’ll meet new people, have a pleasant walk in the sun, and possibly win prizes.

1:30–2:00 p.m. Professional Development Activity Session 1

  • Oils for the Workplace, Emmalee Szwedko, Gore 227 (RSVP required)
    • Let’s make some magic potions! Essential oils are a plant's natural protection from environmental threats, insects, and decay – extracted from the seeds, leaves, roots, bark, or flowers of the plants. They are concentrated and quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving no oily residue. Our bodies and plants have similar building blocks, so when we use essential oils, they are in a familiar environment. Essential oils go to work on our behalf just as they would for the plant by killing bacteria, inhibiting virus reproduction, and even boosting our immune systems. As natural compounds found in the earth, essential oils have been used for centuries for things like food preparation, aromatherapy, religious ceremonies, beauty treatments, healthcare practices, and more. Essential oils are not a modern-day fad but have been used since ancient times.
  • Beginning Knitting, Hannah Thorne, Gore 133 (RSVP required)
    • Looking for an activity that reduces stress, improves motor function, keeps your mind sharp, and has a wonderful community? Knitting might be for you! Join Hannah to learn the basics of knitting and start your first knitting project (supplies are provided). Do you already knit or crochet? Feel free to join this session to connect with fellow crafters.
  • Tips for Using Uber and Lyft, Nathan Jones, Gore 134
    • Are you interested in knowing how Lyft and Uber work and why you should be using both applications to get a ride? I will explain why it can sometimes be difficult to get rides, the difference in classifications of rides (Uber X, XL, Comfort, Premier, Premier SUV), how to avoid expensive rides, but also why you may want to pay more for a ride. I can show you how to schedule rides and explain why scheduled rides sometimes get cancelled and what you might be able to do to prevent a cancelled ride from happening. In just over 2 years I have given over 4,215 rides to passengers in my car for both Uber and Lyft. I also have some funny stories to share about my craziest 1% passengers.
  • Half Hour of Flour: Pizza History, Trivia, and Baking Tips, Braden Thompson, Virtual Channel A
    • Bring your love for pizza, and we'll have a good time. You'll learn a simple but clutch recipe for Neapolitan pizza, some fun facts about pizza history, and a little bit of the science and techniques behind the dough.

2–3:00 p.m. Professional Development Activity Session 2

  • One Act of Kindness a Day, Dalton Bamburg and Jan Saeed, Gore 227
    • What can 1 Kind Act a Day mean to our campus culture? Joining a statewide campaign, this workshop will share information about the project and facilitate conversations on how we each can play a role on campus and use the resources in our personal lives as well.
  • Hair Braiding, Adia Thornton, Gore 133
    • A quick dutch braid is a great way to get your hair out of your eyes, face, and off your neck. It's also a good way to care for your hair (or loved ones). Join me for 1 hour and learn to do the following braids on yourself or another: Dutch (and French braid), Headband Braid, and No-Tie Braid (pull your hair back without a hair tie).
  • Have a Cake and Eat it Too, Deborah Marzano, Gore 134 (RSVP required)
    • Great ingredients, simple tools and no experience required. Come learn simple ways to wow your friends with a beautiful cake. This is a hands-on class, and each participant will be given a 4-inch cake, frosting, and tools to decorate their own dessert. Want to see what kind of cakes I make? Check out my Instagram page @brunettesspatula.
  • Wellness in the Wilderness: Enhancing Physical and Mental Health through Outdoor Experiences. Stephanie Santarosa, Gore 106
    • In this interactive session, participants will discover the wellness benefits of getting outdoors, benefit from participating in a virtual outdoor experience, add to their self-care toolbox, and learn how to plan enjoyable and educational visits to national parks for themselves or others.

3–4:00 p.m. Awards and Recognition Ceremony, Vieve Gore Concert Hall

  • The Awards Ceremony is a time to celebrate the Staff Community Award nominees and winners, new staff emeritus members, and introduce the incoming Staff Council members

4–5:00 p.m. Staff Retreat Reception, Richer Commons

  • End the day with a campus-wide celebration

Professional and Personal Development Session Proposals

Share your expertise or excitement about a skill, hobby, or work or life hack with your colleagues. Sessions will be held both virtually and in-person and the length of the sessions will be flexible to accommodate a variety of session types. If you have any questions about leading a session, please reach out to Laura Kendellen, chair of the Professional Development Committee.

Submission Deadline: April 22, 2022

Submit a Proposal

Staff Council Nominations

Staff Council is seeking to elect 4 new staff members to become part of our committee starting July 2022. Staff Council members serve for 2 years with an optional third year. All staff eligible for membership may be part of the election process.

You are eligible to run for election if you:

  • Are a part-time or full-time staff member of Westminster College
  • Do not hold faculty status
  • Are not an officer of the institution (e.g., a member of the President's Extended Leadership Council)
  • Are in good standing with the college

If you were part of the recent mid-year elections and were not elected, you can submit your name again for this new round of elections.

Submission Deadline: April 22, 2022

Submit a Staff Council Nomination

Staff Community Awards

To recognize the work of staff over the past year, Staff Council is asking for nominations for the Staff Community Awards. Staff will be recognized in 5 categories, with 1 winner for each. Nominations are judged based on how well the staff member meets the category's criteria.

Nomination Deadline: April 22, 2022


The Collaboration Award promotes and rewards outstanding collaborative efforts between colleagues at Westminster College. This award recognizes collaboration that positively improves the lives of Westminster students, faculty, and staff, making Westminster College an exceptional place to live and learn. Collaborations could be between staff members, staff and faculty, across departments, etc., as long as 2 entities are working together.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Nominations must include parties taking part in a collaborative effort
  • Collaborative efforts must exhibit a positive impact towards strengthening colleague relationships
  • Collaborative efforts must exhibit a positive impact towards improving the Westminster experience

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes a new professional at the college or a professional who has recently moved into a new leadership role on campus. The recipient has created an impact on campus within their role by being open to learning and challenging themselves and others. This staff member has demonstrated commitment to the college and is seen as an outstanding professional in their department and/or within their field of work.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Seeks additional responsibilities and opportunities and (either formally or informally) influences and inspires others to improve and grow
  • Has demonstrated a commitment to their role and the betterment of their team’s experience working at the college
  • Engages in and/or develops opportunities for community development and serves as a positive member in the campus community

The Exemplary Griffin Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates leadership by mentoring, coaching, inspiring, and motivating colleagues. The recipient promotes excellence in teamwork, performance, and achievement within their department and demonstrates a commitment to and support of the college’s vision, creativity, and innovation while promoting inclusiveness and respect for difference.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Mentors and coaches colleagues in both their department and/or across the campus
  • Serves on committees to represent their peers and to support change impacting the college
  • Often recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of their peers and actively engages in providing critical and constructive feedback

The Campus Innovation and Impact Award recognizes a staff member or department who uses creativity to develop new or improve processes, systems, products, methods, or services and encourages others across the campus to do the same. The recipient makes innovation a priority and takes reasonable and calculated risks that improve Westminster and make the campus community a better place to live and work.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Carefully assesses and identifies problematic systems or processes impacting the campus community and quickly implements new ideas into action to solve the issue(s)
  • Questions existing assumptions and beliefs and considers diverse perspectives in challenging those ideals
  • Creatively navigates limited resources to address rising concerns impacting the college and provides a wide range of suggestions to approach change in a practical and mindful manner

The Student Success Award recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond to provide support and services for students. The recipient is known to create space for students to be heard and valued and acts as a mentor to students to create a transformational and accessible student experience. This staff member cares deeply about students and their education.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Seeks to improve services, processes, systems, and/or products that enhance the living and learning environment for Westminster students
  • Creates space for students to feel safe and respected and works diligently to advocate on behalf of students by bringing their voices to the decision table
  • Positively speaks about the college student experience while promoting new ideas to elevate the standards of learning at the college (i.e. through collaborative efforts with other departments and faculty)
  • Invests time and energy in mentoring and coaching students through their student development and creates learning opportunities outside the classroom for students to implement their learning into practice