Since the revamp of the Take Your Professor/Mentor to Lunch program this past February, the University has seen an uptick in reservations.
Compared to 2016-2017 academic year, this academic year has so far seen a 152 percent increase in reservations with just over half of the semester completed, according to recent University data.
The information, provided by Rob Nelson, the executive director for education and academic planning for the vice provost of education, also indicated that the number of reservations for lunch at the Inn at Penn has increased this semester by 174 percent since just last semester.
The Take Your Professor/Mentor to Lunch originally began as an initiative by the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, but is now managed jointly by the University Club, Penn Dining, and New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, according to Nelson. The program’s recent expansion was announced shortly after the first Campus Conversation as a part of the University’s Campaign for Wellness.
Through the updated program, students can dine with their instructors at a variety of Penn's dining halls and can invite up to two additional students as guests. For lunch, students can also dine with their professors or mentors at the Inn at Penn.
Nelson explained that the consistent overwhelming popularity of lunch at the Inn at Penn is likely due to the exclusiveness of the venue.
“This is a program that offers non-members a chance to eat there,” Nelson said.
Typically, lunch at the Inn at Penn costs only $13.95; however, a reservation is usually only available to members, who pay a $65.00 yearly fee. According to the University Club's website, current staff, faculty, and graduate students as well as retired staff, emeritus faculty, and alumni can apply for membership.
Through the program, students and faculty can enjoy a meal at the club for free, making it the preferred location for lunch over the dining halls.
Midway through this semester, there were only 15 reservations for a meal in one of the dining halls, compared to the 326 reservations at the Inn at Penn.
Engineering senior Kate Panzer has gone to lunch with her professors at the Inn at Penn twice this academic year and said she plans to use the program at least one more time before graduation.
“I think the thing that really stopped me from doing it earlier was because I thought it was this big process and it would be hard to organize,” Panzer said, “but seeing how easy it is, I wish I had done it before my senior year.”
Although the process of signing up may be simple, some students with busy schedules struggle to coordinate a time for the program.
Engineering senior Julia Lin said that she initially was not able to find time to participate in the program; however, now that her schedule has cleared up, she has already maxed out her reservations at the Inn at Penn.
“I really enjoyed it,” Lin said. “It’s a good time to get to talk to people more outside of a class setting.”
Lin has brought not only professors to lunch, but also administrative support staff. She also works as a teaching assistant and said that her own students are now trying to organize a time to take her out to lunch.
“I was very happy with the experience overall,” Panzer said. “It was more relaxed than I thought it would be.”
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