Faculty members and lecturers have been invited to dine with students in Isla Vista as a part of new Faculty Dinner Program that began this October and will continue throughout the year.

Paid for with university donor funds, the Faculty Dinner Program was created in order to offer faculty, lecturers and their spouses the opportunity to interact with students within the I.V. community. The dinner program’s objective is to gain a better understanding of what students’ lives are like in order to encourage participation in what the Chancellor’s office is calling “the movement to revive Isla Vista.”

If students live in university housing, faculty are also encouraged to join students in their dining commons.

According to a press release sent out by Chancellor Henry T. Yang, by increasing interaction between university faculty and students in I.V., the dinners will likewise extend university engagement and the campus academic and cultural community to I.V.

“For our students, it is an opportunity to converse with their professors outside the classroom, to share their viewpoints and ideas, and to be heard,” Yang said in an email. “For our faculty, it is a chance to experience the environment of Isla Vista firsthand, and to extend faculty-student interaction into the community where many of our students live, study and socialize.”

According to Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, the program aims to open up space for dialogue in and about I.V. for faculty and students.
“This part of our effort is to lessen the boundaries between the academic community in which we study and teach and the residential community that neighbors the campus,” Marshall said in an email.

Associate Dean of Students Don Lubach said the program will allow students to get to know faculty as “normal people” and not just the person who fumbles with the technology at lectures.

“UCSB is a very large place. Food is one of the easiest ways to shrink it down to create an experience that is more personal and even delicious,” Lubach said. “If I could dine with all 200 students in my current course, I would do this often.”

Lubach, who said he believes food is central to meaningful conversation, also said he is impressed with administration for using the dining experience as a way to unite the campus community.

“When I was a UCSB Ph.D. student, all of the important meetings were at my advisor’s home,” Lubach said. “His family would join in, we would walk his rows of fruit trees picking tangerines. Then we would sit around his dining room table eating and talking about chapters, methodologies and deadlines.

Yang said students are a vital part of this collaborative effort and are therefore encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities.

“This initiative is part of a broad array of efforts we are making as an academic community to improve the living and learning environment and bring about cultural change in Isla Vista,” Yang said. “We are excited about this Faculty Dinner in Isla Vista Program, and we look forward to the feedback from our faculty and students as it gets underway.”

Yang and his wife Dilling have made it a regular practice to join students for dinner at the four dining commons. Yang said both are looking forward to the dinners and to learning more about students.

“We appreciate the opportunity to get to know our students, to hear their excitement about their classes and lives on campus, and also to learn of their concerns,” Yang said. “I benefit enormously from such interactions, because students are the reason all of us are here.”

A version of this story appeared on page 3 of the Thursday,  October 16, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.