Write up the road

Faculty, staff and students retreat to Rocheport for two days of creativity, collaboration and camaraderie.

three headshots

Amy Lannin, AF Lewis and Jeannette Porter.

July 5, 2022
Contact: Deidra Ashley,

At the University of Missouri, excellence is among the values that guide students, staff and faculty alike. To help Tigers continue to excel, the Campus Writing Program (CWP) recently hosted a retreat in nearby Rocheport. The two-day, overnight program allowed 19 faculty, staff and graduate students to network and dive into their writing — free from distractions.

Participants worked on a variety of projects including grant proposals, poetry, academic research and dissertations.

The CWP also offers on-campus retreats most Fridays of the school year and a two-day retreat during winter break. These programs are open to faculty, staff and graduate students.

Getting write to work

CWP retreats launched in 2011 after Amy Lannin was hired as CWP director.  Lannin, also an associate professor of English education in the College of Education and Human Development, understands the time demands of balancing multiple administrative and faculty roles.

“I realized I had a large amount of work to get done, and I wanted to make sure that my own writing was getting done as well,” Lannin said. “I had participated in writing retreats in the past and wanted to bring that opportunity to Mizzou. Dedicated retreats are important because you’re not scheduling yourself for other meetings — you’re protecting your time and setting yourself up for productive writing.”

When the first on-campus retreats were offered in fall of 2011, the single-day events were immediately popular. In addition to the work they do, attendees also have time to network and get to know their fellow scholars.

“Scholar interaction is an important part of the retreat,” Lannin said. “Even though they might be from opposite sides of campus, they're getting to know each other and learn about each other’s work. Year after year, attendees have shared how that networking is as important as the actual work they're getting done.”

aerial shot of a bed and breakfast

Through the years, the retreat has been held at many locations across mid-Missouri. This year, organizers collaborated with owners of the School House B&B in nearby Rocheport. The B&B is owned by Chandrika Collins, a Mizzou communications PhD student, and her partner, Andy Hickman.

Write for everyone

Today, CWP retreats and workshops are a campuswide staple, helping students, faculty and staff thrive in a creative environment.

This year marked the first retreat for AF Lewis, a PhD candidate in sociology. “I’ve attended CWP events in the past and knew that this would be a helpful experience,” said Lewis, who used the time to prepare for the first chapter of a dissertation regarding student protests.

“I ended up planning and organizing my data and some of those kinds of things — that took longer than expected,” Lewis said. “But I felt really good about making progress toward that goal. It was great to work near my peers, and there was an energy that I’ve been missing just working at home or alone in my office.”

Jeannette Porter, an assistant professor of journalism, worked on her research about how minority populations communicate about mental health and mental illness.

“With all of my responsibilities at home and at the university, I kept stealing time from writing,” Porter said. “The retreat allowed me to sit down and journal about what was going well. It was a signal to my brain that my writing was the most important thing I could do in that time, which is what I really needed.”

Porter said she saw the excellence in writing that came out of the retreat — from both herself and her peers.

“Every academic is probably familiar with the concept of ‘good enough,’” Porter said. “ But at the retreat, people were really striving for excellence — not to just finish things, but also to make them better. It was more than helpful — in some cases, it was revelatory.”

Story written by Madalyn Murry

Campus Writing Program workshops and retreats

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