Photo: The University of Texas at Austin, UMCS
In 2003, The University of Michigan waved goodbye to formal office hours and waved hello to free lunch with a professor. They believed that office hours tended to be too official, intimidating and classroom-oriented. A mechanism was needed for students and professors to indulge in their shared interests, to network and to cultivate stronger relationships. The University of Michigan’s view, there are few better ways to foster those relationships than the relaxed atmosphere of sharing a meal.
Dr. DeAunderia Bowens, Student Events Center Advisor and University of Michigan alumna, joined The University of Texas at Austin in January 2012. As the founder of Michigan’s Take Your Professor to Lunch program, she brought with her to UT not only the idea, but the passion to make it a reality for Texas students as well.
The Graduate School began talks with Dr. Bowens in the summer of 2012 in order to bring her vision to the Forty Acres. The response was immediate, and palpable levels of enthusiasm were met from all parties involved. By the launch of the program on UT Austin’s campus in November 2012, eight campus and campus-area food vendors were on board with the initiative, for a total of 22 restaurants from which students and faculty could choose. The University’s Division of Housing and Food Service joined the ranks in 2013, bringing the total number of locations up to an exceptional number of 33.
The recent Climate Study conducted by the Graduate School showed that the graduate student/faculty adviser relationship is one of the most influential factors in determining a student’s overall success.
November 2012’s inaugural run of UT’s Take Your Professor to Lunch program was, to say the least, a resounding success—the online application was closed after 26 minutes due to overwhelming demand. Of the 74 participating students and faculty, 44 responded to a post-dining survey. 100% of the respondents would recommend this program to a fellow graduate student or faculty colleague, and 100% believe that this program does indeed foster more meaningful relationships between students and faculty than any given classroom setting.
The Graduate School is committed to continuing this program through the foreseeable future. We would love to invite you to take part in this exciting opportunity. For details on the upcoming application period(s), and for a full list of vendors and application requirements, please visit our Web site.
For more information about the Take you Professor to Lunch program, contact Christopher Villalobos at 512-232-3614 or email@example.com
by Christopher Villalobos, and edits Rachel Manning