A few weeks ago, the student body received an email from Dean Holloway announcing that would be resuming his year-long series of conversations with students that he calls “Lunches with Dr. J.”
“The idea behind them,” he said, “was to keep me in touch with you, my key constituency… I am resuming those conversations this year and invite you to sign up for them.
And as you can imagine, it was to my surprise when I received an email last week confirming my “Lunch with Dr. J” for the coming Friday.
I had no idea what to expect for the lunch, but I felt pressured to prepare at least a little bit of something in advance. One does not simply sit down for an hour-long conversation with the Dean of Yale College without some preparation. I thought about some of my favorite things happening on campus like the ongoing conversations about how the Schwarzmann center can best meet student needs, as well as the issues I thought could be addressed to a greater extent like the continued renovations of the cultural centers. However, when time came for lunch, I entered without an agenda, which (it turns out) is exactly how it was supposed to be.
Dean Holloway started off by explaining why he was hosting the lunches in the first place: when he left his position as Master of Calhoun College for this new title as Dean of Yale College, he could not have anticipated how much he would miss the constant student interaction. “So in short,” he said, “these lunches are a selfish thing. They’re for me to get back that time with students… and really hear about what’s going on in your lives
From there, conversation flowed. We all took turns sharing about our summer experiences and complaining about our midterms. Every so often Dean Holloway would interject with a story from his undergraduate years–his first failed midterm and the moment he changed his mind about being an orthopedic surgeon (not independent events).
At the end of the meal, he went around the table calling out each of our names by memory and insisted that if we see him walking hurriedly around campus we greet him the same way––though we might have to jog his memory a bit about meeting over lunch. I left my Lunch with Dr. J moved that he, as an administrator, would make time to meet with students so informally.