Coming Back to the Table

March 1, 2022
Dinner with 16 Longhorns

By Alma Garcia

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, our Dinner with 16 Longhorns program is officially back, with a revamped approach. There are now more opportunities for students to share how they are living the Longhorn life with six dinners each academic year (fall and spring) and two in the summer.

“I felt the warmth of a home away from campus. I love how they engaged us in conversation. The main aspect I took from this event was how comfortable and safe I could feel around students I just met a few minutes prior,” expressed a student who attended the dinner on Oct. 20.

The tradition started in Fall 2018. The Vice President for Student Affairs office partnered with the Office of the University Ombuds to host 16 students, randomly selected from an application process, for dinner and a chance to get to know one another. Student interest has grown, with 87 applicants for the October 2021 dinner.

The Longhorn Family Leadership Council is helping fundraise for an endowment that would fund this program and others. Our council chairs Kristin and Tony Schell hosted the dinner on Oct. 20. For them, inviting students into their home has given them a new way to reconnect with the Forty Acres – a place they cherish as alumni.

“Connecting with a younger generation of Longhorns helps us better understand the challenges and triumphs facing students today. Comparing and contrasting their experience with our own experiences allows us to learn from them and better tailor where we should become more involved on the Forty Acres,” said Longhorn Family Leadership Council Co-chair Tony Schell, BBA ’88 and MBA ’95.

Our Division of Student Affairs staff can also be part of this fun tradition as facilitators. For staff who have participated in past dinners, they say it’s one of the most impactful experiences they have had working at UT Austin.

“The opportunity to create deep connections with students in a short amount of time is different than anything I’ve experienced. Hearing how students’ different pathways all converge on campus is incredible, and truly shows all of the unique ways our students are living the Longhorn life,” shared Rachel Cohen-Ford, Office of the Dean of Students.

Our next dinner will take place March 22. In the meantime, please send the application to students who might be interested in participating. If you have questions, please contact Alma Garcia.