Students, faculty, alumni to ‘break bread’ with Bennett

Bradie Gray

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This past August, the Student Alumni Association went to a national conference in St. Louis to present three of the events they organize every year – Lighting a Tradition, Archie’s Birthday and Breakfast with the President.

Student Alumni Association Adviser Sarah Harlan said Breakfast with the President had a lot of students from other universities buzzing.

“We had about 70 students who said they absolutely loved the idea,” Harlan said.

She said they were shocked that a president would be open enough to do something like that. Some even said they were going to model the event at their own universities.

“I want students to understand what an advantage it is to have this event,” Harlan said. “To have access to the president like that is not something you see on every campus.”

The 26th Annual Breakfast with the President is scheduled for 7:45 a.m. Thursday in Carter Hall.

This is the first year that Harlan has planned the event, but she said she has attended it in previous years as a staff member.

As Adviser to the Student Alumni Association, she worked on advertising, created the menu, gathered the student panel members who will be asking President Linda Bennett questions and helped them facilitate questions or “a little bit of everything,” she said.

The student panel will consist of what Harlan and Bennett both called “student leaders.” This includes APB, SGA, Student Ambassadors, Delta Epsilon Iota Honors Society, International Club, Pan-Hellenic Council and Interfraternity Council, among others.

The panel will sit among the guests as apposed to previous years when they sat on the stage.

“You could be sitting at a table with Dr. Bennett and get to talk to her, or sitting at a table with vice presidents Cindy Brinker or Marcia Kiessling and get to talk to them or any of the student leaders.”

Harlan said because the event is centered on food, it tends to be more casual.

“I think across cultures, meal time is important. That’s how people get together and get to know each other. I think that it’s important for Dr. Bennett in the sense that USI is such a family to her, and when you think of sharing a meal, you think of sharing it with your family and friends,” Harlan said.

Bennett said she agrees that it’s a casual event.

“If you gather people around food, I think it relaxes folks. That’s why I kind of wanted to get rid of the panel table to narrow the distance between standing behind the podium and answering questions,” she said.

Bennett said this event is the modern day version of David Rice, USI’s first president, opening up he and Betty’s home to students and faculty – except she will not be cooking like Betty used to.

“We have forgotten that in our fast-paced world the power of eating together, that breaking bread together. There truly is a power to that in families and communities that we have to remember is important,” Bennett said.

She will be present for the entire hour to answer any questions that students have and will be accompanied by the administrative team to assist in answering questions.

“They always ask me before we have the event if I want to see the questions ahead of time and I always say no because I’m there to answer questions, not to filter questions,” Bennett said.

All students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to attend. Students eat free. Student tickets can be picked up at the Alumni and Volunteer Services office in University Center West. Faculty, staff and alumni can reserve $7 tickets at usi.edu.

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