March 8, 2010

High Table: A new tradition is served

Freshmen, faculty, deans gather together for JHU’s first High Table

Welcome, year ones. In true Hogwarts fashion—with a modern touch and some Johns Hopkins flare—the university hosted its inaugural High Table dinner for the freshman class on Tuesday evening.

Students, faculty and university administrators gathered in Homewood’s AMR Multipurpose Room for what was billed as the pre-prandial hour, then moved on to Fresh Food Cafe for a formally served elegant meal with an academic flavor. Nearly 400 students dined with more than 40 faculty and deans, who were interspersed throughout the dressed tables arranged in long rows. President Ronald J. Daniels, Provost Lloyd Minor and other key university administrators sat at the “high table,” along with freshman class leaders. Faculty and administrators wore academic regalia, minus the hats.

The event, which the university plans to make an annual occurrence for the freshman class, was based on the British tradition of Formal Hall, a style of dining that has taken place at Oxford and Cambridge for centuries and recently been popularized in the Harry Potter books.

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Photos by Will Kirk,

The concept behind JHU’s version of the High Table was to create a collegial venue where faculty, students and administrators could interact. Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education, said that the university wanted to encourage students to seek out faculty and engage with them going forward in their academic careers.

By all accounts, the event was a major success.

Alexandra Larsen, a member of the Freshman Class Council, said that her classmates have been buzzing about it ever since.

“Everyone I talked to was just overwhelmed by the experience, and how exciting it was to meet the president and the deans in such a way,” Larsen said. “The setting was so beautiful, too. Everyone wanted to stay and enjoy themselves.”