A group of students has invited faculty and administrators to a dormitory dinner in Burton-Conner, an event intended to broaden communication and interaction between faculty and students.
As of last week, 21 faculty and administrators as well as most of the Burton-Conner first-year students had committed to attending the November 8 event. Among those expected to attend are Professor Robert Field of chemistry, Professor Emeritus Anthony French and Professor Walter Lewin of physics and Professor Hartley Rogers of mathematics. The dinner was one of several ideas suggested by members of a group formed over the summer by Dr. William Porter, Burton-Conner housemaster and professor of architecture, that looked at ways to bridge the academic and residential sectors of MIT.
"We wanted to familiarize freshmen with their faculty members and get them to interact with them on a more personal level," said Vijay Sankaran, president of the Undergraduate Association and a co-planner of the event. "It's something simple and we hope it will make freshmen feel like their professors are approachable."
Longer-term aids to faculty/residential interaction that were suggested by group members included having more faculty live in dorms, and having classes and review sessions in dorms. Another idea was to invite corporate and graduate school recruiters to give presentations in dorms.
Michael Purcell, a senior in mechanical engineering, and Diana Dorinson, a junior in civil engineering, organized the dinner, which is being sponsored by the Provost's Office, the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, Residence and Campus Activities, and Burton-Conner.
Mr. Sankaran hopes that the idea will catch on in other living groups, "to have faculty members feel comfortable attending dorm events and have students comfortable talking to faculty."
A version of this article appeared in the November 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 10).