people dining at white linen-covered round tables in a carpeted room with many windows

Sharing a Meal and Ideas Together

Sharing a Meal and Ideas Together

After a two-year hiatus, Lyceum Dinners and Doddceums have returned. For the Williams tradition of Lyceum Dinners, students invite faculty members to share a catered, three-course meal at the Faculty House. Doddceums—named for the event location at Dodd House—offer students a more casual evening with staff and faculty members.

Lyceum Dinners and Doddceums fill up quickly, and especially so this year after many Covid-related restrictions were lifted. The Lyceums have spots for 60 to 90 people and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis; Doddceum applicants are limited to 100 and chosen at random. Both events bring students and faculty together to socialize and get to know one another outside the classroom.

three people standing and talking
Elias Angulo Chen ’24, history professor Scott Wong and Erica Ekstrand ’24

At the Lyceum Dinner held on March 8, Erica Ekstrand ’24 and Elias Chen ’24 invited Charles R. Keller Professor of History Scott Wong. The students had taken classes with Wong before, though Ekstrand says she also took advantage of the opportunity to connect with Chen, who lived in her first-year residence hall. Ekstrand says she enjoyed Wong’s stories in their Asian studies class, “so this was a chance to hear more”—a comment that elicited hearty laughter from Wong. The cozy setting, with a warm fire and the scent of a freshly prepared meal in the air, provided an ideal atmosphere for students and teachers to relax, unwind and engage in wide-ranging conversations.

three people standing and posing
Dania Taki ’24, biology professor Lois Banta and Hisham Tadfie ’23

Biology professor Lois Banta chatted about the current campus climate with Dania Taki ’24 and Hisham Tadfie ’23, Syrian students who met each other only two weeks earlier. During the conversation, the students learned of their shared admiration of Banta, who also serves as chair of the biology department. Neither student had previously attended a Lyceum Dinner, though one took Banta’s biology course last semester, and the other is her advisee. Gathered around one of the small tables covered in white tablecloths, they took the opportunity to get to know the professor better over a hearty meal of baked chicken, potatoes, steamed broccoli and salad.

As the evening continued, lively banter about professional work, student life, hometowns and hobbies echoed throughout the dining room’s tall ceilings.

History and religion professor Casey Bohlen, Emily Axelrod ’25 and Emma Nathanson ’25

Casey Bohlen, a visiting assistant professor of history and religion, joined the Lyceum Dinner at the request of two students from his Winter Study course, Civil Disobedience. Describing the experience in Bohlen’s class as “incredible but far too short,” the students welcomed the chance to hear more about their professor’s work and continue conversations from their class. At Williams since 2019, Bohlen’s interests include the history of American religion, modern U.S. politics, and social movements and intellectual history. Having attended a few Lyceum Dinners, Bohlen says he always enjoys seeing students “outside of office hours, where their goal is to extract the best possible grade.”

The last Doddceum of the 2021-22 academic year will take place on Wednesday, May 11, and the final Lyceum Dinner will be on Monday, May 16.

Lucera Whitmore ’23 is a student assistant in the Office of Communications.

Photographs by Bradley Wakoff/Berkshirian Images