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Walk around campus. People did stuff. Credit: Linda Li , Linda Li

Gregory College House is putting on its own version of “family dinner.”

The first “Dinner with Gregory” of the year will take place this evening at 6 p.m. Arranged primarily by the house’s student directors, it will feature College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dennis DeTurck.
Related: Students dine with Dean DeTurck

This dinner usually draws about 30 attendees, most of whom have some connection to the college house. The event offers students a chance to interact with Penn faculty in a more informal, intimate setting.

Past guests have included Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Bushnell; Penn Law School lecturer Fernando Chang-Muy and astronomy professor Mark Devlin. According to Gregory House Dean Christopher Donovan, the dinners have been a Gregory tradition for the past twelve to thirteen years.

“We’re trying to create a feeling of home by having dinner in the house, with a guest,” Donovan said. “We have a lot of food in Gregory.”

Related: Children living in College Houses bring family life to dorms

Donovan attributed the diversity of speakers primarily to student involvement. The faculty speakers are chosen by the student directors, with feedback from other Gregory residents.

College sophomore Bill Ding and Nursing junior Andrew Dierkes, who together organized this year’s dinner series, sent a survey to Gregory residents at the beginning of the semester and hope to continue to collect feedback when selecting future speakers.

“We’re a small, united community, and we want everyone to have an opinion,” Ding said.

Dierkes agreed that a range of faculty speakers helped the dinner series appeal to more students, but added that some semesters, they have had trouble getting professors outside the humanities to attend.

The dinners have also offered students an opportunity to interact with professors outside of official classes. While over the years some students have attended only dinners pertaining to their major, Donovan said, others have attended every dinner, benefiting from broad exposure to the professors’ research interests and experience.

“Our goal is to give students an opportunity to interact with people they might not be able to take a class with,” Dierkes added.

Ding said he was particularly interested in hearing about the professors’ personal experiences, and hoped it might prove useful for students seeking to enter academia themselves.

He explained further that DeTurk seemed like a good choice for the first of this year’s Dinner with Gregory series because he is “very experienced, with insights on both math and on life.”

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