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Arts and Architecture Celebrates Staff Appreciation Week

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Staff members take a woodworking workshop

Rather than having a staff appreciation day this year, the College of Arts and Architecture celebrated its staff for the entire week, May 8–12. About eighty staff members took advantage of the week’s offerings, which included staff headshots, a tour of the Penn State Arboretum, a sip and paint night, a professional development workshop, and a day filled with activities, lunch, and music. The College of Arts and Architecture Staff Advisory Council coordinated the programming and details for the retreat, which expanded from a day of activities to an ambitious week-long schedule.

“We wanted to provide staff members with opportunities to take a break from their daily roles and routines and participate in activities that encourage relationship building and networking,” explained Nicole Cingolani, IT consultant for the college and head of the College of Arts and Architecture Staff Advisory Council.

Not only did Cingolani coordinate the events, she curated an exhibition of photography specifically on view for the retreat by college staff member and photographer, Stephanie Swindle. “Give Me Your Portrait” will be on display through Tuesday, May 23 in the Borland Project Space (125 Borland Building) with a public closing reception at 3pm that day. Cingolani’s hard work and enthusiasm paid off with over half of the staff participating in the events and positive responses from those who did.

“I loved everything and had a hard time choosing,” said Erica Nodell, administrative support assistant for the Department of Art History.

As a new employee, it was Nodell’s first staff retreat. She participated in woodworking, food hacks, clay, and fresco drawing workshops.

“The instructors were so invested, and it was so generous of them to spend their time teaching us,” added Nodell. “Paul Chidester [professor of drawing and painting in the School of Visual Arts] was so encouraging, and I didn’t want to leave the space. I had the best day ever. It was just a huge gift – to have a day where you can just play and learn at work.”

Thursday, May 11 was the official retreat day, with workshops ranging from learning hula dancing to making a cutting board. Each workshop lasted about an hour, with staff members buzzing about the arts district to learn about silkscreening and how to take a better selfie. Some staff members even had the opportunity to tour Beaver Stadium as part of the day’s events. Lunch also held a surprise for attendees – local music duo Hops & Vines performed, as staff members tried to solve a crossword puzzle, made specifically for the day with clues related to the college by Randy Ploog, coordinator of international programs for the college and affiliate assistant professor of art history.

“It demonstrates the leadership role that our staff have taken in modeling for the rest of the university. It also speaks to the commitment of our faculty, staff, and graduate students in offering their time and talents for this event,” said Barbara Korner, Dean of the College of Arts and Architecture.

The Staff Council’s goal was to enhance knowledge of ongoing research within the college and to initiate personal growth through new learning experiences by providing venues and opportunities for colleagues to easily identify with fellow staff members in order to create valuable connections in the workplace.

“Relationships built on respect enable staff to work together cohesively, to more easily accomplish solutions to future problems, and to find better ways to establish efficiencies,” added Cingolani, who is a participant in the dean’s faculty/staff book club on the topic of respect. “We also hope that everyone had fun in the process.”

To view a gallery of photos from Staff Appreciation Week, visit the college website:

For more information, read the Centre Daily Times article: