[singlepic id=448 w=320 h=240 float=right]Jen Richards
Students at KSC get to know their faculty members by sitting through lectures in class, but why not get to know the professors on a different level?
That’s exactly what some students did at the “Dinner with Faculty” on Monday night. Jana Jacobson, assistant director of residential life, put together a casual dinner in the Dining Commons and let every sophomore know the first 25 to respond could get acquainted with a faculty member. She said this is the first time she did this for the sophomore class, but she plans to continue it once a month for the rest of the year.
“This is the first year I am focusing on the sophomore residential experience, so we are doing all different things aimed specifically at sophomores,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson said she finds it important for the students to get to know faculty members on a different level than just hearing a lecture in a classroom.
“Hopefully they will not only be able to learn a little bit more about a member of our faculty, but also connect in with somebody different on campus,” she said.
For the first dinner Jacobson asked Dr. Jamie Landau to join the group. Jacobson said she wanted the first faculty member to set a good tone for future dinners and she said she believed Landau would do just that.
“I picked her to be the first person because I felt like she was interesting and has good energy,” Jacobson said. “And she’s younger so it might be easier to relate to her path because it wasn’t very long ago.”
Dr. Landau, assistant director of communication, said she hoped to help the students realize faculty members are actual people outside of the classrooms.
“We will interact more as peers, not as ‘you’re the student, I’m the teacher,’” Landau said.
She agreed with Jacobson that telling her past stories with the students would form a better connection with them.
“ I feel like I can relate to them since it was only a decade ago that I was in their shoes,” Landau said.
Jacobson said she had a feeling not a lot of students would show up to the first one. She said she sent an email out to every sophomore student and asked for an RSVP in response. She said the first 25 students who responded would get a seat at the dinner and others would be put on a waiting list. One week before the dinner, she said only five people had responded.
Jacobson said, “The first three people to RSVP wrote back in about 15 minutes and they seemed super excited.”
She said she hoped more would show up but did not know if that would happen.
“I know there will be more interest along the way as people hear about it,” she said.
The dinner started at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, on the second floor of the Dining Commons. Three students joined the two faculty members for a casual dinner and discussion. Sophomore James Gillun met for the dinner. Landau asked Gillun what made him come to the dinner.
“I just responded to one of those emails,” Gillun said, “I didn’t read it, well I skimmed it a little bit, and now I’m here.”
Landau started the conversation and explained the experiences she had in her path in life. The visual showed that she was born in CA, grew up in Conn., studied at schools that included Vanderbilt and Georgia, and worked at jobs with a newspaper, book publisher, and a magazine. The visual also showed her interests and everything that got her to KSC.
After conversation sparked it continued for about an hour among the faculty members and the students that showed up.
The discussion consisted of facts about the students, what questions they had about the faculty, and then turned into a conversation on many other topics. The students described their sophomore year, what interested them, and where they wanted their lives to go. Dr. Landau reflected on her past experiences as well.
Sophomore Justin Yamet was among the three students who attended. He said he enjoyed the dinner and thanked the faculty members at the end.
“I have a lot of work to do but I’m glad I came,” Yamet said.
After the dinner, Jacobson said she wished more people had taken advantage of the opportunity. She said she thinks its good for students to get to know a different side of professors at KSC.
“Tell your friends to go get dinner, go talk to a faculty member!” Landau said before the students left.
Jacobson considered the time of the event as being a factor of the amount of students who showed up. She said she thinks the groups will become larger. She said students just have to spread the word about this experience to become more acquainted with the institution and a faculty member on campus.
Jen Richards can be contacted at email@example.com