Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

First-year class dines with Chancellor Coombe

This fall, Chancellor Robert Coombe is trying to personally welcome each incoming freshman — all 1,142 of them.

The students have been invited to meet the chancellor — as well as alumni, faculty, staff and administrators — at formal First-Year Dinners held in the Ritchie Center’s Gottesfeld Room.

So far, 356 students have attended the first seven of 15 dinners with the chancellor. Michael Jennings, director of student and alumni programs, says this year an additional dinner was scheduled to accommodate the larger class size.

Jennings says the key to building a strong alumni network is to introduce current students to alumni early in their academic careers. It creates precedence for students to come back after they graduate and connect with new students, he says.

“These dinners demonstrate the outstanding commitment that the chancellor has to the students, the administration, faculty and alumni,” Jennings says.

This is the third year DU has held the dinners.

The chancellor starts the events by recounting the University’s long history and how it is intertwined with the development of Denver. Following dinner, Julanna Gilbert — who wears multiple hats as the chancellor’s wife, a carillonneur, a chemistry faculty member and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning — gives students a hands-on tour of the Williams Tower and carillon.

For music major Laura Jobin-Acosta, playing the bells was a “really cool experience.” She says the dinners are a good idea because they foster socialization and students can get to know their leader.

Having moved from Cortez, Colo., Jobin-Acosta had expected to find a more diverse environment when she went to college. She was glad to hear Coombe address it head-on.

“He talked about diversity and about how there will be improvement,” she says.

“I did not know that DU has been around since nearly the beginning of Denver’s foundation,” freshman Andrew Cocanour says, adding that he recommends the dinner to new students. “It’s a chance to hear the chancellor up close, eat good food and see the amazing bell tower.”

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