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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Faculty Retreat

I'm about to dash off to class to teach my first class of the year (greetings criminal procedure students!), but I noticed via facebook the other day that someone had just returned from a "faculty retreat." Unless I'm not invited to them, FSU's law school doesn't have these retreats, perhaps because living in Tallahassee is already such a verdant paradise :-)

But I am curious: what goes on at these retreats? We have a very good workshop culture here for both internal and external presenters so it seems a bit odd to go to a nice resort to do the kind of work indoors that we can easily accommodate during the workweek. I could see the benefits of a retreat if it was designed to inculcate and strengthen norms of team or community. But how do schools do that? And when is the optimal time of the year to schedule them? Are they required, encouraged or simply available? Does the school pay for the whole thing? Is it just faculty that goes or also key administrators or all staff too? Inquiring minds want to know. Feel free to include a redacted schedule for one of these if you can in the comments. 

Happy first week of class!

Posted by Administrators on August 24, 2010 at 10:29 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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We had a "faculty retreat" recently that was not really as fancy as the ones described above:
http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/faculty-retreat/

Posted by: gasstationwithoutpumps | Sep 18, 2010 12:59:19 PM

At Illinois, we have a faculty retreat similar to the one described at Penn (our former Dean came form Penn, so mystery solved). We have on the next-to-last day of finals period so there are no conflicts with classes, writing exam, etc. It is traditionally my favorite day of the year.

Posted by: Christine Hurt | Aug 26, 2010 11:01:46 AM

Ditto on Orin's comment. We had a retreat last week for just that purpose.

Me three. That is, so long as "that purpose" was referring to the school-funded ritual sacrifice part of Orin's comment.

Posted by: Dave | Aug 24, 2010 6:59:01 PM

Our retreat seemed a little like an extra-long faculty meeting, albeit with free lunch. I've been to others, though, where we tried to be "meta," as Orin puts it.

Posted by: Lyrissa | Aug 24, 2010 4:22:08 PM

Ditto on Orin's comment. We had a retreat last week for just that purpose.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Aug 24, 2010 3:55:55 PM

Someone from Penn reported to me:

Penn law had a one-day event at a (fairly) local location, involving breakfast, several faculty members presenting fairly well worked out papers w/ formal comments by other faculty members, and questions. The papers were distributed before hand and to read them all was a lot of work. There was a nice lunch and a pretty fancy dinner to which spouses/partners were invited with an open bar. That was the best part from my perspective. My impression is that the one the year before was similar and that the one this year will be slightly different but more or less the same. They are usually at some fancy location though occasionally at a faculty member's home. The point was probably faculty bonding (nearly everyone came, including clinical faculty and the academic fellows) and learning about what people were doing to some degree. It was interesting, but not relaxing. I have no idea how representative this is.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Aug 24, 2010 1:47:16 PM

Ritual sacrifice. Fortunately the law school pays for it.

Okay, more seriously, I've gone to one, and it was a weekend discussion of the future of the school: its strengths, weaknesses, and ways it can/should change. All very meta. If I recall correctly, it was scheduled before the ABA's site visit.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Aug 24, 2010 12:34:21 PM

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