Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 28, 2023

Student-Faculty Social catalyzes casual dialogue

By ELLIE PENATI | March 6, 2014

The first Student-Faculty Social of the semester was held in Levering Hall last Thursday. The social aimed to create a relaxed setting in which students and professors could get to know one another on a more personal level.

“The main purpose of the Student-Faculty Social is to have students and professors interact in a more casual environment outside of the classroom or office hours,” junior Andrew Griswold, one of the student organizers of the event, said.

Many students at the event said they were curious to learn more about their professors’ lives, hobbies and interests outside of the classroom. Student attendees, who were allowed to invite one professor of their choice to the social, said that the event was a great opportunity to ask professors about non-academic topics.

“I really want to be able to ask more personal and informal questions to my professors, as I feel like the lecture setting or office hours are not really appropriate times to do so or everyone is on a schedule while here,” junior Hannah Lee said. “I want to learn more about their personal background and how they spend their time outside of just the classroom.”

Junior Yiwei Gao used the opportunity to talk with a professor she is taking a class with this semester.

“I invited my professor here because he does really interesting research, and I got to know him a bit because his class is really small,” Gao said. “He is one of those people who is just fun to be around. It’s a great way to appreciate professors in a different setting and see them outside of the typical professor-student relationship. It’s very casual, and the conversation naturally flows. It never hurts to have that connection and learn about their interests outside of their research and teachings.”

The event also offered a chance for students to learn more about various internship and research opportunities with faculty.

“The event is great for students to talk with their professors in hopes of creating better ties in case they maybe need a recommendation letter or something else down the road. It creates a space and time for students to build contacts and relationships with professors that may prove helpful in the future,” Griswold said.

Beyond satisfying general curiosities and gaining academic contacts for pre-professional planning purposes, many attendees ultimately emphasized the importance of fostering a sense of community. Professors and students alike agreed that, particularly at a school like Hopkins, it is critical to minimize the gap between students and faculty on a personal level and create a campus where professors are accessible.

“By getting to know your professor, it makes this school feel much smaller and closer. It makes it feel that it is truly a college campus rather than a research university made up of thousands,” Lee said.

Applied Mathemathics Professor Ed Schooner agreed with Lee.

“Getting to know each other on a personal level outside of the classroom, that’s obviously a cliché, but it’s nice for students to see faculty not just as professors in a classroom but people too, people who have lives, people who have dogs. It’s very important to build community, and it helps both the students among themselves and to get to know the faculty as well,” Schooner said. “Even in a small class, you’re so focused on the material that you’re studying as opposed to talking about families, politics or whatever else that we’re interested in outside of the classroom.”

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