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Red and white retreat center

The CAPA retreat Aug. 17 was held at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

Getting their feet wet

CAPA retreat mixes fun and facts to prepare for 2007-08

Brief, Sept. 12, 2007

The Council of Academic and Professional Administrators (CAPA) held its annual retreat August 17.

"The retreat is a chance for old and new CAPA representatives and senators to meet, to learn from one another, and to really get their feet wet when it comes to expectations for the coming year," said 2007-08 CAPA chair Pam Stenhjem.

"Representation and governance at an institution the size of the University of Minnesota can be overwhelming and confusing for the savviest of University employees," Stenhjem said. "The retreat provides an energizing venue for representatives and senators to learn about their roles and responsibilities, to ask questions, and to get a feel for how best to represent their constituents through participation on CAPA."

The planning committee for the retreat combined learning with fun. Participants got to learn more about CAPA--including CAPA history, committees, and representation and governance--through a game of CAPA Jeopardy!

"Who doesn't love a game show with prizes?" said Erin George, a member of the committee that planned the retreat. "People were investing a day by attending, so we wanted to build a fun and informative retreat that would set a tone for engagement in, and understanding of, our various CAPA roles.

"We reflected on how little we sometimes know about what it means to be a P&A employee and what it means to be involved in CAPA, whether as a representative, alternate, senator, or committee member," George said.

CAPA's five committees are Executive, Representation and Governance, Benefits and Compensation, Professional Development and Recognition, and Communications. These five CAPA "work horses" are ultimately responsible for developing plans each year to address critical issues that affect academic professional and administration (P&A) employees, as well as for implementing those plans and taking action when needed.

Retreat participants learned about the committees through a speed-dating activity in which the committee chairs presented their committee's role and responsibilities four times to four different groups. With a better understanding of committee functions and roles, participants could make more informed choices about committees to join for the upcoming year.

Preview of the P&A survey results

Stenhjem also presented the initial results of a University-wide P&A survey conducted by CAPA last spring. Sent to 4,600 P&A employees with a 40 percent return rate, the survey collected critical information about ongoing contributions and the value of P&A employees to the University. CAPA is currently developing a full report of survey results that can be used to enhance ongoing activities in the Transforming the U initiative and to ensure that P&A employees are included in Transforming the U data-collection efforts.

"The retreat was a great time for people to get to know each other in a fun, relaxed way as they learned about CAPA," said CAPA vice-chair Mary Laeger-Hagemeister.

Ingrid Nuttall, chair of Professional Development and Recognition, agreed: "We are energized for the upcoming year and look forward to representing University P&A staff."

The retreat planning committee was Elaine Challacombe, Pam Enrici, Erin George, Ingrid Nuttall, Pam Stenhjem, and an independent consultant with the Wellspring Group, John Vollum.