Dinner Dialogues

The Dinner Dialogues program offers professors a unique way to increase interaction with their students beyond the classroom and build community among the members of their class. Funded by a grant from the Parents Annual Fund, the Office of Parent & Family Programs reimburses professors when they host their undergraduate class for dinner at their home.

Fast Facts:
• The dinner MUST be held at the home of the instructor of record for an undergraduate class on the Columbia campus. It cannot be held at the home of a teaching assistant or graduate/peer leader, in a restaurant or on campus.
• The dinner must be held between the dates of the first and last day of classes and cannot be held on Reading Day or during Finals Week.
• The instructor will be reimbursed up to $10 per undergraduate student enrolled in the class. Due to university purchasing guidelines, no money will be distributed prior to the dinner. Instructors must pay for the materials and then be reimbursed.
• No alcoholic beverages may be served during the dinner, regardless of the students’ ages.
• Decorations and activities should not be purchased using Dinner Dialogues funds. We are only able to reimburse instructors for food and food items (paper plates, utensils, napkins, etc.).

I want to participate. What do I do now?
• The Dinner Dialogues application should be submitted two weeks prior to the event and will be reviewed for approval.
• Set a time to host your dinner. We recommend seeking the input of your class to find a time that works. Some instructors have asked about the best time to hold the dinner, and that is completely up to you! To help the students feel more comfortable with you for the semester ahead, host it right as classes start. You can also host an end-of-the-semester celebration dinner to end the class on a high note! Keep in mind the time of year and campus events when picking your date.
• Set the menu and feel free to serve whatever food you would like. Whether it’s local cuisine, your favorite international dish or takeout pizza, have some fun and get creative.
• Holding this dinner at your house lets the students observe you in a different atmosphere and get to know you as a person. If you worry about not having enough room in your house, get creative and look to other parts of your house like your backyard. If your house is located away from campus, encourage your students to carpool and give them exact directions to your house.
• Some instructors like to have set plans of something to do during dinner (board games, movies, etc.) while others like to see how the evening takes shape.

After dinner:
Please note that we must follow the university purchasing procedures for all Dinner Dialogue reimbursements. In order to be reimbursed, you must submit the following:
• An electronic list of the email addresses of the students who came to the dinner for survey purposes. The list can be sent to scparents@sc.edu.
• Need help pulling a list of email addresses?
Follow this guide.
• Original, itemized receipts within five days of your event to ensure a timely reimbursement. The receipts may be turned in via campus mail or dropped off in person to the Russell House, suite 115.
• A sign-in sheet or roster of students who attended.

“This experience was wonderful. I was able to learn so much about my classmates, teacher, and peer leader. It made us closer. Also, being in a nice home, with a great home cooked dinner, and fun made me feel more at home at college. Being an out of state student I had missed a lot of that. It made my class a family.”
-Student participant

“Dinner Dialogues is a great way for students to get to know their professors and fellow classmates in a more relaxed environment. We are all used to interacting in the classroom and stressing about grades or the next test, but the opportunity to go to a professor’s house and to see them as more than just a “grade-assigner” makes you feel more comfortable approaching them about questions and concerns that you may have.”
-Student participant

“Dinner Dialogues is a phenomenal opportunity not only to get to know your students outside the classroom, but for them to get to know you as a real person. I loved having my classes come to my home for a home cooked meal!”
-Faculty participant

Apply for funding to host a dinner today! It’s a quick and easy application process – just click here!

If you have any questions, please contact Office of Parent & Family Programs at scparents@sc.edu or 777-5782.