Fall 2003 Retreat Report
"Autumn in the Rockies: President’s Teaching Scholars in Community"
Saturday and Sunday, September 27–28, 2003
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Mary Ann Shea, director of the President’s Teaching Scholars Program, made the opening remarks. She thanked the retreat planning committee: Jim Burkhart, JJ Cohen, Jim Symons, Bill Briggs and Clayton Lewis, as well as staff members Lynn Della Guardia, Wynn Pericak, Jazmin Chavez and Chris McCabe.
Shea told the Scholars that they are “scholars in community” at the University of Colorado “as opposed to many years ago when scholars lived a monastic life.” The Scholars work together to make connections with peers and students and each has contributed to the community of scholars through this remarkable program. She told the Scholars that the retreat is an occasion for critical reflection, and their desire to get better at learning the integration of their research and their teaching. “I welcome you to the retreat and to at least one of your professional communities of practice,” she said.
Shea introduced CU President Betsy Hoffman and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Jack Burns, who would be participating in the retreat discussions.
Shea takes opportunity in retreat’s opening remarks to reflect back to the Teaching Scholars and who they are as distinguished professors. She tells a story to make this point. A recent article in the New York Times caught my attention, she said. It raised the question of as great teachers, to what extent do you influence students as part of your campus communities? You have capacities to not only transmit information and create wonderful and rich learning environments, but also to transform students. The NYT article was about four young men who met at age 10 at a camp in upstate New York. Last year they went to college and university; this summer they returned to camp together as camp counselors. One day in late July or early August, they went to the Adirondacks. At the top of the falls, the water was very powerful, and one of them slipped from the rocks. The rock broke away, and he ended up in the water. The three best friends dove in after him and the bittersweet ending to this is that they died. One of these four best friends was a student who played football and lacrosse, made trouble, and slouched in high school, but his friends said he had returned transformed after his first year at CU-Boulder in the Leeds School of Business. I offer this story, to the extent that you know or not, you do transform students lives.
Hoffman said this was her fourth fall retreat. “I look forward to this opportunity every fall and to the opportunity to visit with you in our discussion tomorrow. These are very difficult times for public research universities, Hoffman said. But there are also great opportunities; oftentimes difficult times afford great opportunities for meaningful change. It can’t happen at a time when everyone is complacent. I see this time as extraordinarily difficult, but fraught with opportunities. I’m looking forward to sharing with you what happened last year, and to hear your thoughts for the long-term future, so that CU emerges strong from this very difficult time. These are nationwide issues, and are not just confined to Colorado. These issues challenge universities to think very creatively as we plough through the next decade.