Table cloths draping dining hall tables, sparkling silverware, and students decked out in spiffy attire all indicate that the semesterly series of Faculty Dinners is well underway at Harvard College. The dinners are a longstanding tradition at Harvard, appreciated by faculty and students alike.
“I love faculty dinners—a wonderful institution,” said Andrew Berry, a lecturer in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Pforzheimer, Mather, Adams, and Cabot Houses have already held their faculty dinners. The remaining Houses will continue hosting their faculty dinners on various days through the coming weeks.
Attendees praised the timing of faculty dinners, which are often scheduled near the middle of the semester.
“It makes no sense to have them too early in the term when students don’t yet know the instructors in their courses, and at the end of the term, students have other obligations piling up,” said professor of political economy Benjamin M. Friedman '66.
Friedman encouraged multiple students to jointly invite a professor, adding that the group dynamic not only leads to enjoyable conversations, but also facilitates student interaction with classmates outside of their established circles.
For their part, students noted that inviting a faculty member can be stressful and may even require preparation the evening before.
“I find professors to be very intimidating in general,” said Nicholas F. Bobbs ’16. “I’ll probably have to read a bunch of articles before the dinner so I don’t sound stupid.”
While faculty dinners are consistently well-attended, some professors note that there may still be room for improvement.
“As a Brit, I see a companionable drink as one of the cornerstones of civilization. Some Houses, however, provide only non-alcoholic beverages,” said Berry. “ My only suggestion then, for improvement, is that those Houses that do not serve alcohol at their faculty dinners change their policy.”
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