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What is the Pioneer Pause?

Much like Downtown Pittsburgh, the Point Park University community is always on the go. Whether you are dashing between campus buildings for classes, or assisting in the everyday operations of the University, the fall semester can be both invigorating and exhausting. There all comes a point when we each must take a moment to focus on our collective well-being.

The objective of this tradition is to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, while also strengthening our social and support connections across the campus community.

Our second-annual event took place on Tuesday, October 31, 2023. On this day, students, faculty, and staff enjoyed activities such as: practicing yoga, meditating while tasting chocolate, making custom slime, painting pumpkins, crafting friendship bracelets, playing retro video games, and much more. Find our fun-filled photo gallery of this past year's event at the link below.

2023 Pioneer Pause Photo Gallery

Important Scheduling Notes

A Schedule of Events for next year's event will be posted in in the late summer or early fall of 2024. Please review our information regarding University operations on event day:

Classes: All day and evening classes, across all degree levels, are canceled for the Pioneer Pause. This single day of class cancellations has been approved by our Provost, Dr. Michael Soto.

University Departments/Services: *Additional updates will be coming.



If you have any questions about the Pioneer Pause, please reach out to the Planning Committee Chair Annie Shean, at ashean@PointPark.Edu

Black Diamond II pausing to read in the Student Center lounge.

Pioneer Pause Overview:

  • Students will be excused from all day and evening classess, accross all degree levels. They are encouraged to sleep in, and are welcome to participate in a day full of fun activities and raffles across campus. Students without a meal plan will be provided lunch in the cafeteria at no charge, and there will be plenty of refreshments provided through the afternoon. 

  • Faculty: Take a rest, you deserve it! You are welcome to spend the day at home, or you can join un on campus for the festivities, a free lunch, and a chance at winning a raffle.

  • Staff : We reccomend that all departments consider cancelling meetings and closing down so that all staff can participate in the activities, enjoy a free lunch, and have a chance at winning a raffle. Dress casual or embrace the timing of the Pause and break out a halloween costume. For those who would rather relax on your own terms, feel free to take a wellness day.

    PS: Staff who volunteer to help with the event can earn 10 Wellness Points in return. Contact Annie Shean to sign up today!

Staff, Faculty, Students, and Alumni: Contact StaffAssembly@PointPark.Edu to take part in the planning committee or to sign up as a volunteer.

Past Event Photo Galleries

2023 Pioneer Pause


The Pioneer Pause is a grassroots initiative started in fall of 2021 by university staff members on the Academic Excellence Committee. When discussing potential priorities for the year, one common theme arose: the need to address mental wellness.

When the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, our lives were all affected in various ways. Two years later the world has not returned to the way things were – and have instead morphed into what we call “the new normal.” Feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness and a disconnect from our peers have become commonplace as we begin to move forward.

The committee began to gather benchmarking data and research, confirming that other higher education institutions are experiencing the same problems. During this process, information was gathered about "Mountain Day" -- a traditional event held at many northeastern colleges and universities. The committee utilized the idea of reserving an annual day off classes and built our own twist on it. Rather than having  a randomly selected day of community building activities such as group hiking and bonfires, we would select a specific date to hold our fun and relaxing activities to reduce the stress we all experience at the midpoint of fall.

With firm data in hand, the envisioned event was presented to University leadership, who granted us the opportunity to turn our idea into reality. For more information on how the Pioneer Pause came to fruition, check out the short presentation below.

*Alternatively, you may download the presentation slides in PDF format here.

Planning Committee Chairs & Members

2023 Chair - Annie Shean
Committee Members:
Amanda Avampato, Chase Barron, Ashley Bruder, Kaela Cardarella, Rebecca Diana, Michael Gieseke, Rebecca Harper, Naomi Jensen, Kenneth Lawson, Cassie Moffat, Cindy Pietrakowski, Vince Rugani, Michelle Rutledge-Mostel, Keeley Sapienza.

2022 Chairs - Annie Shean & Heidi Ward
Committee Members:  
Amanda Avampato, Chase Barron, Ashley Bruder, Rebecca Diana, Michael Gieseke, Naomi Jensen, Jayme Kerr, Cassie Moffat, Cindy Pietrakowski, Vince Rugani, Michelle Rutledge-Mostel, Keeley Sapienza, Paul Yeeter.