Student-geared initiative boasts more than an escape from the dining hall

For the past nine years, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture (dCEC) has hosted a variety of supper clubs for its Sorin Fellows. At these events, dCEC-affiliated faculty and staff host students for dinner in their homes, providing students the ability to converse with professors in a relaxed environment. These supper clubs offer, in addition to a home-cooked meal, the opportunity to grow in fellowship with hosts and peers alike. 

In the spring semester of 2024, the dCEC hosted 16 supper clubs, with four to eight students attending each dinner.

Dave Younger, the dCEC’s Student Formation Program Manager, stressed the beauty of this tradition, telling the Rover, “Supper clubs began several years ago and are one of the oldest programs within the Sorin Fellows program. They began as an opportunity for students to connect with faculty and staff affiliated with the dCEC so that students may see and experience what a lived Catholic faith looks like within the context of a family.”  

During the meals, attendees share about their lives and families, meet new people, and sometimes even talk about literature and poetry. 

Program Coordinator Phil Tran stressed the continued support of these events by the dCEC, saying, “My hope in facilitating this program is to provide our Sorin Fellows with exemplars after which they can model their own professional and personal goals. In this setting, our students can engage with their host and other student guests in high level conversation about the true, good, and beautiful while simultaneously and simply living out these transcendentals in petting the family dog, playing with their host’s children, and enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal.” 

Senior Catherine LaPorte remarked on the beauty of getting to see professors with their families. She shared, “I was able to attend a supper club at Professor Tim O’Malley’s house with a group of students. … It was a nice break from the usual on-campus schedule, and we had a delightful time with the O’Malleys, especially their energetic and playful kids!” 

Freshman Harrison Barkley noted the wisdom he gained from going to a supper club with dCEC Communications Specialist Ken Hallenius. Barkley said,  “The home-cooked food and great conversation about Ken’s extensive travel experiences and life as a married man were a great way to take a break from campus life and learn from those older and wiser. I am grateful that the dCEC offers these opportunities to students, and I highly recommend going to a supper club if you get the chance.”

Often, the relationships that members of a supper club form with one another last long after the plates are cleared. Junior Annaliese Anderson personally attested to the importance of the relationships that she cultivated during her supper club experience, saying, “I still vividly remember the specific conversations and meals (always exceptionally delicious) of the two supper clubs I have attended. Both times I did not know the professors (or most of the guests) previously, but both times I felt like I left with new relationships formed.”

Anderson continued, “After my first supper club, the professor who had hosted us sent us all an email to invite us to a lecture he was giving. He addressed us as ‘Dear New Friends,’ and I think this anecdote aptly captures the spirit of the supper clubs.”

According to Younger, Anderson’s experience is not uncommon. In fact, Younger attested, “A number of students become attached to some families and maintain long-term friendly and mentor relationships with the families they’ve encountered—some lasting long after the student graduates.” 

As the Sorin Fellows program, which currently boasts 660 members, grows, many more students have the opportunity to experience the joy of supper clubs. Senior Rose Cummins shared with the Rover, “The Sorin Fellow Supper clubs are by far my favorite aspect of the program—I’ve been to five! My experience has been nothing but positive. I would recommend that everyone who can sign up should.”

Although spring semester supper clubs are coming to an end, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture plans to host more of these events for Sorin Fellows next fall. 

Elizabeth Mitchell is a freshman who loves dCEC supper clubs. She also loves her recent decision to leave Mendoza and join the Program of Liberal Studies. Any kindred souls who want to talk with her over a meal about the intrinsic value of education, Russian literature, or what she should do with her liberal arts major after she graduates can contact her at

Photo Credit: University of Notre Dame

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