Members of the class of 2019 invited their beloved professors to the fourth Annual Gratitude Gala, held on Wednesday, May 1, to engage in conversation and enjoy refreshments.
The Gala gave graduating students the opportunity to honor faculty members who profoundly influenced their education at the University.
Jill Dolan, Dean of the College, and Eduardo Cadava, a professor in the English Department and a recipient of the 2018 President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, opened the event by delivering brief remarks to a room filled with students and faculty.
Dean Dolan emphasized the uniqueness of the event, noting that it is one of the few formal settings in which students and faculty have the opportunity to show their gratitude to one another.
She said that being a professor to students at the University has immensely impacted her life and relationships, mentioning that a number of former students have become more like friends, and even family.
Interacting with students, Dolan said, helps her ideas constantly evolve. She explained her belief that relationships formed through advising can last forever.
Dolan described the experience of independent research as a “rite of passage” and encouraged seniors to keep in contact with their most influential professors.
“We are always curious about the surprising and exciting turns your lives will take as you begin and continue your careers,” she said. “Wherever you go, you take pieces of our hearts and our minds with you.”
She went on to thank all faculty and staff at the University and congratulated the graduating class.
Cadava said it is the emphasis on close interactions between students and faculty that has kept him at the University for nearly 30 years.
He recalled numerous interactions with students over the years, due to both his interdisciplinary academic focus and his role as former head of Wilson College.
“In every conversation I’ve had, I have learned something,” he said. “I have experienced the give and take that is the signature of the learning experience.”
Cadava shared a passage from a poem written by Pindar, an ancient Greek poet. The poem speaks to the ways in which both teachers and students can lead one another.
“When we as teachers convey to our students what we love and what we believe, they in turn incur a responsibility to convey what they have learned, and also, what they love and believe,” he said.
Cadava went on to recall the manners in which his favorite teachers conducted their classes. He closed by congratulating seniors for their accomplishments.
Students attending the event said they were happy to have the opportunity to engage with professors outside the classroom. Chitra Kumar ’19 invited her former writing seminar professor, Dr. Maria Medvedeva.
Kumar said that Dr. Medvedeva “was able to give a different perspective about writing and is still a great source of advice so many years later.”
Dr. Medvedeva, who now serves as the Director of Studies for Rocky College, added, “the event is very special. It is gratitude for them [students] but is also gratitude for us, being able to see them grow.”
The Gala was held in the Princeton University Art Museum at 4 p.m. and cosponsored by the Class of 2019, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.