“If I just had one student come by my office each year to say thank you, that would be enough,” a Penn State University professor told Faculty Commons staff Ashley Holleman. Then he added, “However, I never get that student.”
Instead, professors hear from the whiners and complainers: the student who got a grade he didn’t like, the one who needs a reference–tomorrow–for grad school that she really doesn’t deserve.
Last semester was different at Penn State; more than 40 Cru students handed their professors this invitation. The students explained that Cru was a Christian group on campus and was hosting the dinner to thank and bless professors.
Most of them–37 of them!–said “yes” and enjoyed a beautiful four-course dinner at a classy hotel near campus. The Cru students ran the evening. Over dinner, the students told the others at their table of six what they appreciated about the professor seated next to them.
“This was the scariest part of the whole evening for us,” Ashley remembers. But the awkward silence he feared never materialized. Instead, conversation flowed throughout the room as the professors relaxed and enjoyed the evening. Many on-going conversations about spiritual topics were launched that evening.
Two senior students spoke briefly to the whole group about their gratitude and their personal faith stories. “It was so cool to see the gospel presented in such a way that professors could understand it,” Ashley tells us. “It really was meaningful to them.”
Clearly, it was. When they were dismissed, no one left. The conversations continued as God led these Christian students into the real lives of real people (their own professors) who need a real Savior.
And the professor who longed to hear one student thank him? He was content. After dinner, he told Ashley how much it meant to have an entire evening dedicated to that “thank you.”