Faculty Writing Retreats


The CILA Faculty Writing program, modeled after the successful Boldt Writing Retreats, provides opportunities for St. Olaf faculty to focus on their scholarly writing: to develop a work-in-progress, revise a conference presentation for publication, incorporate feedback before submitting an article to a refereed journal, polish a grant application, or perhaps revisit and revise a rejected manuscript. The retreats, open to faculty from all disciplines and Faculties, provide structured writing time in a distraction-free atmosphere among supportive colleagues and with an expert facilitator.

The CILA Summer Writing Retreat is a week-long retreat in early June designed to help faculty transition to their summer writing projects. Participants meet every day in an off-campus house (currently Larson House) as a group for coaching, editing, inspiration and support, and then work individually on projects. Breakfast, lunch, and refreshments are included, as well as an opening and closing dinner. A few residential positions are available for those who may wish to stay overnight during the retreat. All participants receive a modest stipend. Opportunities for follow-up are also available through the program.

Participants in the 2013 Summer Writing Retreat, led by Diane LeBlanc (Director of Writing and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies):  Chris Brunelle (Classics), Ibtesam al-Atiyat (Sociology and Anthropology), Jason Ripley (Religion), Ashley Hodgson (Economics), Laura Listenberger (Biology/Chemistry), Kris MacPherson (Library, Asian Studies), Karen Cherewatuk (English), Katie Ziegler-Graham (Statistics), Henriet Hendriks (Political Science), Alberto Villate-Isaza (Spanish), and Trish Beckman (Religion).

Comments from 2013 and from the 2012 Summer Writing Retreat (led by Mary Titus, Professor of English) included

  • I made significant progress on several writing projects. The retreat was definitely inspirational. It was also just nice to get to know some other faculty.”
  • “The long blocks of writing time and the conversation with other members of the group… benefited me the most. The writing time helped me accomplish a lot of tangible work.”
  • “I was particularly grateful for and helped by the setting: the house filled with others working in similar ways (on different projects); a place and time devoted to one thing, without distractions either self-imposed or otherwise.”

IMG_0062During the CILA January Writing Retreat, participants use the Interim (January term) to write daily over the course of three weeks, choosing to work alone or in quiet group spaces. Faculty writers also meet regularly with the facilitator and as a group for coaching, inspiration, editing, and support.

Participants in the 2013 Winter Writing Retreat were Paul Roback (Statistics), Ted Thornhill (Sociology and Anthropology), Rika Ito (Asian Studies), Heather Campbell (Education), Torin Alexander (Religion), and Judy Stack-Nelson (Religion).

Some comments from the 2013 and 2012 Winter Writing Retreats (led by Diane LeBlanc):

  • I loved the small size. I liked getting feedback from my writing group.”
  • The retreat allowed me to re-submit an article….having large chunks of dedicated time each day to work on my scholarship and being accountable to others was just what I needed to make progress. Also, I really enjoyed the camaraderie that developed within the group; it was great to get to know other faculty members better.”
  • The regular meeting and scheduled deadlines helped me to develop a routine writing practice. Also, I very much enjoyed being in an interdisciplinary group; it was fun to read outside my area of expertise.