57 Students and faculty members gathered together to eat and
socialize at Universit Dining Service’s bi-annual Iris Dinner last week
Wednesday, October 24th.
The Iris Dinner, formerly known as the student/faculty dinner,
occurred the last four semesters under the direction of University Dining
Services Director, Mark Hayes, and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Residential Living staff. This is the first semester the event used the iris as
part of its theme.
“We wanted to brand it. The intent was to create a tradition
because ‘student/faculty dinner’ didn’t really embody that idea, and the iris
is the school flower,” said Mary Duckworth, Program and Assessment Coordinator
for Residential Living.
Hayes brought the idea to UWSP from the previous institution he
worked at and contacted Residential Living to help start the event. Since the
spring of 2011, the dinner has taken place every semester, and Duckworth
confirmed they will continue to offer the event every semester to come.
“I get a lot of feedback from a lot of the faculty members that
attend, and almost all the responses are positive and say how much the event
was appreciated,” Duckworth said. “Many say that the dinner is so much more
than they were expecting!”
The idea behind the dinner is for students to ask a faculty member
to attend the event with the student. It is a chance for both students and
faculty to see each other in a different light.
“I think it’s an opportunity for students and faculty to break
down barriers that may be present in the classroom, and it’s a great opportunity
if a student is trying to decide on a major to invite a faculty member in that
field and start that new relationship,” Duckworth said.
Residential Living also has a program where faculty members
become a mentor andparticipate in many programs that are put on by the staff
members of the residence halls. Faculty Mentor Kaz Wawrzaszek and Steiner Hall
Academic Resource Coordinator Chelsey Baeb attended the Iris Dinner together as
a way to build a relationship for Steiner.
“I think the Iris Dinner is an excellent way to connect students
and faculty. The atmosphere is laid-back and open for students and faculty to
snack on appetizers, catch up on campus activities and enjoy a very nice dinner
together,” Wawrzaszek said. “I’ve looked forward to each dinner and can’t wait
for next semester’s event.”
“I thought it was great. The food was absolutely fantastic, and
the conversation was even better. I felt as though—even though I’m already
pretty comfortable talking with Kaz—it was great to talk to him in a different
environment, one where work and school didn’t dictate the conversation,” Baeb
Baeb explained that asking a professor to attend could be
stressful. However, she offers advice to students who may be in the same situation
and hopes that they will initiate some kind of relationship with them.
“If asking seems a bit daunting, it is, but it also isn’t. Your
professor is a person just like you,” Baeb said. “There are plenty of
opportunities to break the ice and invite the person. You could see them after
class, during an office hour or email them. It may seem a bit nerve-wracking,
but it is well worth it.”