Wednesday Lunchtime Conversations With The President

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How do you break the ice when meeting Dominican University of California’s President Nicola Pitchford for lunch? 

Just tell her a story about your family pet. Bring along a photo, and you might find yourself talking for quite some time.

Every Wednesday from noon until 1 p.m., students, faculty, and staff have an open invitation to join President Pitchford to chat over lunch in Caleruega Dining Hall. The discussions are about pretty much anything – classes, work, life in the residence halls, current events, weekend plans, or family (especially of the four-footed, furry variety). 

President Pitchford started what has become a regular Wednesday lunchtime routine as a way of getting to know more about the people who make up Dominican. She’s particularly keen to talk with students, and she often draws from these conversations while meeting with colleagues about issues both big and small. Indeed, President Pitchford makes it a priority to place the student experience at the center of every decision about Dominican’s present and future.

These conversations in Caleruega have become a highlight of President Pitchford's week. When she took office last year, President Pitchford named cultivating a joyful campus environment as an institutional priority. Meeting with and listening to students brings President Pitchford joy. 

“I am endlessly impressed by the kindness, resilience, and curiosity of Dominican students,” President Pitchford says. “They embrace difference and challenge injustice, they seize opportunity, take risks, and strive both for growth and for authenticity. These students inspire my deep pride and admiration.”

To help with conversation starters, here are a few things to know about President Pitchford:

  • President Pitchford’s research interests and academic expertise include issues in higher education, contemporary British literature, feminist theory, race and national identity, and landscape writing. 
  • Her first job out of college was working as a pastry chef in Southern California. 
  • She hosted her college’s student radio station when she was an undergrad, playing her favorite punk albums.
  • President Pitchford is currently caring for four chickens (Theo, Gina, Chip, and Squid) and two hives of bees in her garden next to Fanjeaux Hall.
  • She regularly hikes and runs the hills around campus and Marin County.
  • She is a fan of the “three c’s”: coffee, cheese, chocolate.

President Pitchford invites members of the campus community to join her table for conversation in Caleruega Dining Hall on Wednesdays from noon until about 1 p.m.  To date, October 19 is the only Wednesday this semester when she will not be in Caleruega during the lunch hour. 

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