CLA food for thought program gaining popularity

History junior Michael Bennett had some life questions for his history instructor Jules Gehrke.

So Bennett took Gehrke out to dinner Thursday night on the College of Liberal Arts Student Board’s tab.

Gehrke said he was flattered a student wanted to take him out to eat.

“It seems like a really good activity,” Gehrke said. “It’s such a large University; it’s hard to make personal contact (with students).”

Bennett was one of many University students who participated in Food for Thought, a program that allows appreciative students to take professors or teaching assistants out to dinner at Annie’s Parlour in Dinkytown.

The student board started the event six years ago, CLA adviser Sue Hunter Weir said. The dinner occurs once or twice each semester. This is the second Food for Thought dinner this semester.

“The students on the board decided that they wanted a way to recognize good teaching and provide a way for students to get together with instructors,” Weir said.

The student board pays for the meals.

“We try to find a restaurant nearby at a price range we can afford to pay,” Weir said.

Food for Thought’s success is rising, she said.

“I would say it’s really up there among the more popular events,” Weir said.

Last semester, student board member Andrea Bader had to make a waiting list for students after the 100-person limit was filled.

“We used to have it in smaller places, but more and more people have been signing up for it,” Bader said. “As time goes on it will expand and we can get more people to attend it.”

English and political science senior Michael Wilklow took his Intermediate Fiction Writing teaching assistant, Richard Hermes, to Annie’s Parlour.

“I don’t think students realize how much fun it is for instructors to have the chance to get to know students outside of class,” Hermes said.

Linguistics junior Rachel Winckler took her syntax professor to the event last February.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know my professor outside of class,” Winckler said. “It was an opportunity to get her background and to see how she had arrived at the place she was at.”

Winckler said she had a great time. She also said she thinks other students should do the same because “professors are people too.”