The President's Table

Thursday, March 2, 2006 - 15:00

An article in the January 27 issue of Hampshire Lifetook a look at the role food plays in the life of area college presidents. Turns out, when it comes to leading an institution of higher education, there's a lot on the table-literally. From breakfast meetings and luncheons on campus to dinner at the president's house and frequent social affairs, there's no escaping culinary indulgences in this line of work.

According to the article, Mount Holyoke College President Joanne V. Creighton sees food as a "key ingredient of many campus events," and her house on campus is the site of frequent receptions and dinners sponsored by her office to celebrate lectures and other ceremonies.

In the article, Creighton talked about her love of tea that she developed while studying in London. "I find that tea is the perfect solution for most situations: if one wants to talk, is tired, or wants to relax." Creighton said, she "takes pleasure in the fact that Mount Holyoke residence halls still have formal silver tea sets, and she tries to attend several high teas each semester."

According to University of Massachusetts Chancellor John Lombardi, "Food is an icebreaker, it humanizes meetings, [and] it provides a sense of hospitality for engaging in campus business."

Smith President Carol Christ counts herself as part of the Julia Child generation--and in fact the master chef was a 1934 graduate of Smith. Christ said most residence halls have tea every Friday with cucumber sandwiches, a way to "punctuate the day and enjoy the company that you keep."

Ralph Hexter, the new president of Hampshire College, hosted a series of eight eggnog parties for faculty and staff at his home in South Amherst as a way of opening up his house to the community.

And while most of the presidents' meals are cooked for them, sometimes they can't keep their hands out of the kitchen. In the article, Amherst College President Tony Marx recalled a time when he tried to take on the job of cooking dinner for faculty, "but when the lamb wasn't getting done, a faculty colleague relieved me of my apron and stove," he said.

Related Link:

Daily Hampshire Gazette - Hampshire Life
***Available to online subscribers***

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