50th Anniversary Faculty Retreat RecapSubmitted by Stephanie Whalen, Academy Chair, English & Interdisciplinary Studies

Thank you to all of the Harper faculty and staff who attended the 50th Anniversary Faculty Retreat at the Q Center in St. Charles March 16-17. Browse images from the retreat.

Faculty Presenters: “Teaching Vulnerable Students in the 21st Century”

After gathering for lunch on Friday, retreat attendees were entertained by the Academy’s Melissa Baysingar as she hosted game shows through the decades with questions about Harper, and participants selected Harper-themed prizes. Next, six faculty shared PechaKucha-style presentations on “Teaching Vulnerable Students in the 21st Century.” These faculty members followed their presentations with brief discussions to give the audience a chance to explore the needs of our students in more depth.

Each presenter was touching to the audience in a unique way. “I really enjoyed Jorge’s presentation and how he used actual labels that he taped to himself to show that sometimes we are focused on perceived identities and that we have to look through them to connect with our students.” -Pardess Mitchell, Kinesiology & Health Education

Team Trivia: Educated Guesses

After dinner, faculty reconvened for a team trivia event facilitated again by Melissa Baysingar, the Academy’s resident trivia expert and enthusiast. The energy was high and the enthusiasm intense as participants worked together to answer questions that were submitted in advance by each team. At the end of eight rounds, three teams were tied. “The Oxymorons,” “My Drinking Team Has a Trivia Problem,” and “Questionable Choices” were in a dead heat. Luckily, Melissa had come prepared with a tie-breaker question! Each of the final three teams did their best to give their best estimate of the population of Harper’s district, but Captain Dave Richmond’s “Questionable Choices” was the closest and emerged as the victor.

Talent Night: Faculty’s Faculties

Talent was still going strong when we had to pack up and clear the room just after midnight. The performers included the musical stylings of Joe Wachter and Dan Stanford on guitar, Kris Piepenburg and Mike Bates on keys, and vocal solos by Kathryn Powell and Ned Loughridge. Jennifer Bell, Andrew Wilson, Travaris Harris, and Veronica Mormino led a dance lesson with a Latin flair. Karega Cooper accompanied many performances with vocals and tambourine, with many others stepping up to dance and sing, ending the night with the Electric Slide and American Pie. The after-party resumed with billiards, ping-pong, and foosball in the game room.

Design Thinking: Addressing the Needs of Vulnerable Students

Faculty arrived bright and early on Saturday morning to apply ideas from Friday’s presentations in a Design Thinking process facilitated by Mike Bates, Stephanie Whalen, and Chris Dobson from the Academy. Faculty chose groups by topic and went through steps to develop greater empathy for vulnerable students, define a problem affecting them, brainstorm and prototype ways to address these issues, and give and receive feedback on other teams’ ideas.

Thank you to all of our attendees, presenters, trivia participants, and performers as well as Harper administrators for supporting this special 50th anniversary retreat. Also, a big thank you to the Harper 50th Anniversary Committee, the Harper Box Office, Library, HarperStore, Liberal Arts Division Office, and Chicago Prime Italian for your prize donations!

Links to the faculty presentations (Friday) as well as the prototypes of related ideas from the Design Thinking groups (Saturday) will be posted on the Academy website soon.

Browse images from the retreat.

“Just wanted to extend my thank you to all of you and the others on your committee for a terrific faculty retreat…one of the best I have attended throughout the years! Your attention to all the details did not go unnoticed.”

Kathleen Hock

Dental Hygiene

“I just wanted to thank you for organizing, with the rest of your committee, an excellent retreat. I found it to be an excellent learning opportunity. Thank you for all the hard work, please send my thanks to the entire committee.”

Leslye Smith

Radiologic Technology

“I think one of the things I enjoyed about it was just being with my peers when I wouldn’t normally be with them, and I consciously tried to mingle with people from a variety of departments and get to know them better.”

Robin James


“We often have the opportunity to attend overnight conferences relating to our teaching area or other areas of interest, but we don’t get to see what our colleagues are doing in their classrooms. I am so grateful for the extended time to learn more about what we are doing here at Harper!”

Dominique Svarc


Questions? Please contact the Academy at 847.925.6174, academy@harpercollege.edu.