CUI Bono retreat brings students closer to faculty

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Leonard Memon | 10/28/2022

Concordia students and faculty created quality relationships in Big Bear in an informal setting while engaging in deep conversations surrounding the concept of truth from Fri., Oct. 7 through Sun., Oct. 9.

Daniel Deen, associate professor of philosophy and faculty advisor for CUI Bono, said that after the summer break “the retreat is designed to reignite that curiosity about the great questions of the Q & I curriculum in new and returning students alike. It is where students and professors reestablish relationships as they struggle through difficult questions in an informal setting.”

The informal setting where students can talk freely and build relationships with faculty is a key aspect of the CUI Bono experience. Deen found that “there is an intimacy and convivial atmosphere that helps foster student ‘buy-in’ for the rest of the academic year as we struggle with similar questions in a more typical classroom setting.”

Deen added, “The retreat provides that foundation and fond memory of freedom, freedom to question, freedom to disagree, freedom from grades and points. The retreat binds a group of students (and faculty) together around the importance of remaining curious and the freedom found in the liberal arts even as life gets busy.”

Lucas Halten, assistant professor of communication studies, led the conversation on truth with a discussion on how media interacts with truth. Hatlen said, “I was really impressed by the quality of discussion among students throughout the entire weekend. I was very impressed with the breadth and depth of conversations that I heard, as well as the level of passion and conviction on the part of the students in attendance. It was inspiring to see!”

Deen said, “My favorite part of this year’s retreat was getting to see Dr. Lucas Hatlen engage with students and faculty in the laid back atmosphere of the CUI Bono retreat. It is always a joy to see new faculty exemplify the ethos of the CUI Liberal Arts Curriculum in theory and practice.”

Students and faculty approached controversial topics from a place of respect. Paul Elliott, assistant professor of theology, said, “In our conversation about Truth, I was impressed by the collegiality, empathy and humility on display. While we did not shy away from controversy (and there were certainly differences in our understandings), we approached it from a place of mutual respect, a love of truth and a desire to grow by listening to the perspectives that each person brought to the conversation.”

While there were numerous high-quality conversations surrounding the concept of truth, many individuals also noted the quality of the relationships they built. 

“The CUI Bono retreat creates a space where students and professors can interact outside of the structured bounds of the classroom. The environment is still academic and engages the life of the mind, but there are many more opportunities to see my students as individuals and for my personality to come through. There were also times for informal conversation, fun and community building,” said Elliott. 

He added, “I have gone to this retreat every year, and I always find it incredibly energizing. It reminds me of why I got into academia to begin with.” Elliott, a top-tier Ark Nova player, also noted that he “built a better fake zoo than Leonard did.”

Halten found that “It was just really great having a chance to interact with both colleagues and students, both in serious ways (like the formal discussions) and less serious ways (like learning how to knit).”

Ella Hachee, sophomore, said, “I was able to develop closer relationships with faculty and other students because of the relaxed setting. The pace of life was also slower during the retreat, so having genuine conversations became easier as no one rushed out of discussions to go to the next activity. Developing these relationships in a more casual setting helps create an engaged and caring classroom environment.”

Deen said, “If you are interested in being a part of the CUI Bono email list, please email and I’ll make sure you get put on the list.”

The next CUI Bono session is on Tues., Nov. 8. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. and the talk starts at 5:30 p.m. The talk will be given by “Our Veteran Resource Center coordinator, Richard Lewis,” said Deen. 

He added, “[Lewis] spent five years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and combat cameraman. Upon his service ending (Aug. 18, 2015), he drove across the country to Irvine to start a new semester at CUI (Aug. 24, 2015). At CUI, he discovered the Q & I Core and CUI Bono and realized how powerful the great texts and the liberal arts tradition can be to someone transitioning from military to civilian life.”


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