Undergraduate students will no longer need to eat alone around campus; they will now be able to learn from their professors over a meal starting Oct. 2. The collaborative “Take a Professor to Lunch” program will run until the end of the month, giving students a chance to learn from their professors.
The program, sponsored by the Provost’s Office and the Division of Student Services, not only gives students insight into what foods professors cannot live without, but also encourages students to get to know their professors outside of the classroom. Students have the chance to freely discuss career goals, concerns or receive advice in a more informal environment.
The program is open to all undergraduate students, with each student receiving three chances to treat professors to a meal in the Pirate Dining Room, located in the University Center. Students living on campus will need to pick up a ticket that will cover the cost of the professor’s meal.
On the other hand, commuters will be required to get a ticket for both themselves and their professors, according to Karen Van Norman, dean of students and associate vice president. Students can pick up tickets in the Dean of Students Office, located in Room 237 of the University Center.
“I usually don’t like going to professor’s office hours. I find it much easier to ask things through email,” said Andrea Guaman, a senior public relations and journalism major.
Despite being a full-time student, Guaman balances the workload of a senior with a full-time job. These commitments make it difficult for student like her to visit professors during their available times. This program is set to offer a unique opportunity for students to make the best of their free time.
“You can actually get to know your professor as you enjoy a meal and not have to awkwardly walk into the office and just sitting there,” Guaman said.
Dr. Kirsten Schultz, associate history professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, has previously participated in “Take a Professor to Lunch” a few years ago. Although few students attend her office hours, Schultz said that being able to further the student-professor bond opens up opportunities with students to pursue long-term plans.
“Meeting with students in office hours or at other campus events allows professors to connect their students’ academic achievements with their interests and longer-term goals,” Schultz said. “Each year, several students ask me to write letters of recommendation. When I am able to write about the student as an individual, I think the recommendation is more persuasive.”
Similarly, Dr. Matthew Pressman, assistant professor of journalism in the College of Communication and the Arts, acknowledges that students have such busy lives once they leave the classroom. Accepting that students have other full-time responsibilities outside of school, Pressman hopes students will approach this program with an open mind, willing to experience this out of classroom experience.
“They should take advantage of the program in order to form better relationships with their professors,” Pressman said. “It would benefit students to talk about their goals with us.”
Van Norman said she is hopeful that a positive student turnout can translate into extending the program past the fall semester. This way more students can pick at their food and pick at the brains of professors.
Nicholas Mariano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.