A Minute With… Liz Knouse, Director of Conference Services

By Ciara Rafferty ’19

When she was young, Liz Knouse aspired to be a teacher so she could work with children. 

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Although she didn’t pursue teaching, she managed child development, athletic, and recreation programs for three posts as director of morale, welfare, and recreation with the Department of the Army. Camps and conferences fell under Knouse’s direction as well. Upon her retirement with the Army last year, she was drawn to the opening at Shippensburg University’s Conference Center. 

…we offer a lot of intellectual capital that organizations might not be able to get at another place.

What attracts organizations to SU’s Conference Center? Our conference services have access to this conference center and also all of the facilities on campus. What brings organizations in is proximity—we are not far from Washington, DC. We are just outside of major cities right off of I-81. So, it’s very easy to get to. We offer very professional space. In addition to that, I think our conferencing opportunities here give businesses the ability to use our academic resources. Our students and our professors are able to provide workshops, leadership skills, activities, and more within our conferences. So aside from having professional facilities, we also offer a lot of intellectual capital that organizations might not be able to get at another place.

Why is the Conference Center an important resource for the community? The facility itself is state-of-the-art. All of our facilities at Shippensburg are extremely well cared for. We’re very flexible in how and when we rent our space. 

What challenges have you faced in your position? I’ve spent time at many different military installations and programs. I would like to grow the program with Shippensburg. I’m new and learning the ropes to higher education. I’m figuring out how I can tie what we do here at Shippensburg to outreach within camps throughout the different school districts, and I have to learn how to navigate through those systems to be able to do it. When you’re in the confines of the military, from one post to the next, you can grow a program because it’s the same system. I’m trying to do that same concept within the State System to say this is what we do at Shippensburg, what should we do throughout the State System to be on the same page? It’s really about building relationships and learning who does what, because we have so many similarities anyway. I’m trying to learn who those people are, what they do, and build on the strengths of those relationships. Shippensburg is great in the sense that people have a real buy-in here, so it’s not hard to pick people’s brains. They want to tell you what they do, they’re very excited to do that, and they’re very willing to help.

When you attend conferences, what kind of mental notes do you take that might impact how you do things here? Service. I’m always looking at service and the quality of our food, the quality of the access to staff, and being able to answer questions or concerns.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? My dad—he passed away in 1986 when I was a student at Shippensburg. He would love that I’m here. He went here and my son’s a graduate. I did not graduate from here, I transferred to West Virginia. 

If you could read just one book or watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be? My favorite movie is It’s A Wonderful Life. I love that one. Book, I would say is Gone with the Wind. I enjoy the simplicity of It’s A Wonderful Life and the message that it brings to just be happy where you are. And Gone with the Wind, I enjoy history, specifically, Civil War history. 

What’s your dream vacation? I would like to go back to Alaska. We were stationed there for a while—it’s beautiful.

Would you rather go in the summer or the winter? I don’t even care. I lived there in the winter. Summer’s a better time, but I’d go in the winter if I had to. 

If you were trapped on a deserted island and could have only three things with you, what would those things be? Chocolate, my family, and my VW Bug. 

Ciara Rafferty ’19 is an intern for SU Magazine.