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Student Affairs and Academic Support

  • students having dinner at their instructor's home

Dinner Dialogues

Students who interact with their instructors in and out of class are more successful. Through Dinner Dialogues, instructors can host their students for dinner at their homes, where conversations can help build community among class members. And, thanks to a grant from the Parents Annual Fund, there's little or no cost.


Submit the Dinner Dialogues application two weeks prior to your event so it can be reviewed for approval.

  • Applications for spring 2024 must be submitted by April 8. Applications submitted after this date will not be considered.


  • To be eligible to participate in Dinner Dialogues, you must be the instructor of record for an undergraduate class at the Columbia campus.
  • You must host the dinner at your home -- not at the home of a teaching assistant or graduate/peer leader, in a restaurant or on campus.
  • The dinner must be held between the dates of the first and last day of classes in the semester the course is offered. It cannot be held on Reading Day or during final exams.
  • You will be reimbursed up to $10 per undergraduate student enrolled in the class. Due to university purchasing guidelines, no money will be distributed prior to the dinner. 
  • No alcoholic beverages may be served during the dinner, regardless of the students’ ages.
  • Do not pay for decorations or activities using Dinner Dialogues funds. You will be reimbursed only for food and food items (paper plates, utensils, napkins, etc.).

Expectations for Instructors

  • Seek  input from your class to set the date and time of your event. Keep in mind the time of year, and be aware of other campus events when choosing your date.
  • Submit your application two weeks prior to the date of hosting the dinner. 
  • NEW: Have your class RSVP list for the Dinner Dialogue when submitting their application. This will allow for you to better plan and be mindful of spending only funds needed for those that attend. 
  • Speak to your class about the purpose of the Dinner Dialogue and let students know that the Parents Fund pays for this experience. This will help students understand where the money comes from. This should help as students RSVP and understand we do not want to waste funds when students do not attend. 

Tips for Instructors

  • Feel free to serve whatever food you would like. Whether it’s local cuisine, your favorite international dish or takeout pizza, have some fun and get creative.
  • Holding this dinner at your house lets the students observe you in a different atmosphere and get to know you as a person. If you worry about not having enough room in your house, get creative and look to other parts of your house like your backyard. If your house is located far from campus, encourage your students to carpool and give them exact directions to your house.
  • Some instructors like to have set plans of something to do during dinner (board games, movies, etc.), while others like to see how the evening takes shape. It's up to you!


The Office of Parent and Family Programs follows university purchasing guidelines for all Dinner Dialogue reimbursements. To be reimbursed you must complete the form within 72 hours of hosting your dinner. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.