November 15, 2012

Coffee Hours Work to Bring Down Barriers Between Students, Faculty

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Getting to know faculty is often difficult for freshmen at Cornell. Sitting in a 500-person lecture makes it harder to build the same kinds of student-teacher relationships that are more easily formed in high school. Even to upperclassmen, the process can still be intimidating.

In order to break through this barrier between college students and professors, Prof. Flavien Glidja, romance studies, who is a faculty fellow for the High Rise and Low Rise dorms on North Campus, organized the first in a series of coffee hours to bring together freshmen with faculty.

During the event, Professors Cindy van Es, applied economics and management, and Daniel Barbasch, math, talked with students in Jameson Hall’s Sky Lounge about adjusting to life at Cornell and their interests beyond their academic lives.

According to Glidja, the coffee hour was the first residential event where professors were brought into student dorms to interact with students in a casual setting. He said that the event was meant to enhance student learning.

“As a faculty fellow, my mission is to bring academics into the dorms, so students can interact with professors in an informal environment,” Glidja said. He noted that in many lecture courses, students hardly ever get a chance to interact in class with professors and are often too busy to go to their professors’ office hours.

Joy Cai ‘14, one of the Residential Advisors who helped plan the event, said that these types of events help students with adjusting to college life.

“You get to learn about professors’ lives and see them outside of lectures and see them more in a social setting,” Cai said.

“By learning the path followed by professors to be where they are this can serve as a role model for students to follow,” Glidja added.

Barbasch praised the event for helping break down the barriers between students and faculty.

“I really enjoyed this event,” he said. “The students were engaged, and I learned about student life that I don’t normally come across. We talked about the recent hurricane and concerns of the students whose families were affected by the Hurricane Sandy.”

Glidja plans to hold other coffee hour events in the future, saying that they show students that they are a part of the larger Cornell community. Two more will be held this semester, on Nov. 26 and 29. Glidja hopes to get more participation from professors of various fields, ultimately wishing that President David Skorton will join students at one of the events.

Original Author: Nicole Chang