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The Dartmouth
May 29, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Profs, students attend Pelton dinners

Students and faculty now have the opportunity to dine together and discuss professors' research after dinner over a slice of apple pie at Dean of the College Lee Pelton's home.

Pelton is trying to improve faculty-student interaction by hosting informal "Works in Progress" dinners for the Dartmouth community.

Pelton said he began having these dinners last month to provide an "opportunity for students and faculty to engage one another in an informal setting." About 12 people have attended each dinner.

Some students who attended the dinners said they enjoyed the presentations, but felt slightly uncomfortable during dinner.

Pelton said the dinners are "going very well" and because they take place in a "small setting, outside the classroom over meals it makes students very comfortable."

Two professors have given presentations and Pelton said he plans to have more dinners in the winter.

Italian and Comparative Literature Professor Walter Stephens gave a presentation in October on his research about witch-hunting during the Middle Ages.

Physics Professor Marcelo Gleiser spoke last week about a nonfiction popular science book he wrote about views of the universe from the beginning of time to the present.

Pelton said about three dozen faculty have agreed to participate.

Stephens said the dinners differ from classes or seminars as "there's really nothing at stake here other than to hear faculty talk about something they're interested in passionately."

Gleiser said his presentation was "interactive and very informal. The students really felt comfortable about asking questions. As a result [of the presentation,] I have four students who want to do independent study projects."

Students who have gone to the dinners were also enthusiastic about their experiences.

Zoe Langston '97 said although she is a Government and French double major, she found Gleiser's presentation "interesting and stimulating intellectually ... He was really able to explain it so everyone could understand."

Brett Kawalerski '00 said Stephens' presentation "was excellent and the food was great ... the apple pie was the highlight."

Jessica Yeh '00 said she also enjoyed the dinner, especially the apple pie.

"We got input from a religion professor and Dean Pelton himself," she said. "I liked to see that interaction."

However, both Kawalerski and Yeh said they felt uncomfortable during the dinner.

"We weren't very relaxed or natural there. The food was in these silver utensils," Yeh said. Pelton "started to speak while we were still eating and we were afraid to make sounds. It was kind of tense."