The Schemel Forum: 10 Years of Communal Engagement and Learning

 The Schemel Forum: 10 Years of Communal Engagement and Learning

By: Phil Rauch, Aquinas Managing Editor

SCRANTON – With the opening of the University amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the many things that will be missed in the popular “Schemel luncheon.” 

These luncheons typically take place for around one hour, usually at noon, where all members of the Scranton community are encouraged to attend. Students and staff of the university can attend for free, too. 

Sondra Myers is the Director of the Schemel Forum. She, too, is a Senior Fellow for International, Civil, and Cultural Projects at the University of Scranton. Ms.Myers’ unwavering love of learning, particularly outside the classroom, inspired her to hold these luncheons to instill a love of learning in adults who’ve either graduated, did not complete, or did not attend college.

“The Schemel Forum is for out of school adults, principally. Of course, students and faculty are welcome to our programs and some of them participate. The idea was to bring the gifts of the University of Scranton faculty, and its ideas, to out of school adults who are passionately interested in thinking, discussing ideas, and issues.” Ms. Myers said of the primary objective of the Schemel luncheons.

Naturally, a draw for attendance of the Schemel luncheons is the food. Lunch is served while the guest is giving their presentation or talk. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting ability to gather, largely, in public places, the Schemel Forum had to make the difficult decision to go remote. Ms. Myers spoke to the challenges that will present with this semester’s luncheons.

“Well, we’re going to miss the lunch. There’s nothing like sitting at a table with people, being together, and learning. That’s what we’re going to be missing, I hope, just temporarily. But there’s still a bond between people I like to call “Schemelites.”

While not quite the same affect can be had while being remote, Ms. Myers remains sanguine about the resumption of the Schemel luncheons.

Furthermore, I asked Ms. Myers about what guests the University has been eager to have at a Schemel luncheon.

“Well, who would’ve been a luncheon guest was E.J. Dionne. He works for the Washington Post, but he does a lot of talking. He is often on talk shows, and he is a well-known journalist. I only knew him as a journalist, and I had met him in a conference in New York. I talked to him and asked if he would come, and he said yes. When I started to look him up, I found out that not only was he a good journalist, but he was also a Rhodes scholar.”

A Rhodes scholar is a title rewarded to someone who received a postgraduate award from the University of Oxford for excellence in education. It is a very prestigious award.

Ms. Myers, moreover, encourages all faculty and students to attend at least one Schemel luncheon to see what you can learn; many people may be surprised.

Ms. Myers is the author of a new book titled Our America: Who Are We? A Digest of Impressions, Reflections, and Opinions which is a collection of writings exploring the essence of America as a nation and as a people.

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