Dillard University President, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, e-mailed students Thanksgiving week, indicating if they needed a place to eat, he would have seats. Check out his reasoning in a interview with HBCU Buzz.
Q. How long has this tradition been at Dillard?
Kimbrough: This is my first Thanksgiving here, and I am not aware of it being done before. We started doing this in 2009 when I was president of Philander Smith College. We knew there were students who needed a place for Thanksgiving dinner and we decided we would host a group. My mom taught at Clark Atlanta University so we always saw CAU students at the house during Thanksgiving.
Q- How many students shared dinner with you?
Kimbrough: We had 14 Dillard students, plus one of my students from Philander Smith College drove down from Arkansas.
Q- Who prepared dinner?
Kimbrough: My wife did the bulk of the cooking. We purchased fried turkeys and a Honey Baked Ham, but she made the sides and desserts. One of the students brought a cobbler and an acquaintance of my wife gave us a cheesecake.
Dinner included fried turkey, honey baked ham, macaroni and cheese, greens, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn bread and Hawaiian bread. And dessert consisted of: sweet potato pie, pound cake, Italian cream cake, peach cobbler and 7th Ward cheesecake
Q- Did you share any words of wisdom with the students?
Kimbrough: This was a real informal, laid back time. It wasn’t so much about being the president as it was opening the house to students who could not be with their families. So they could feel like they were having Thanksgiving by being in a home, especially one with a 6-year-old and 4-year-old running around.
Q- What are some of the reasons students cannot make it home for holidays? (Sports, financial hardships and etc.)
Kimbrough: Most who don’t go home do so because of distance. The bulk of the students tonight were from California, with Illinois and Virginia represented, along with Alabama and Texas. West Coast students just wait until the end of the semester since it would be expensive and time consuming
Q- What is your goal in hosting this every year?
Kimbrough: No real goal for this event except to provide a home away from home during a holiday that makes people think about family. In a few years there will be students who come who really know us, and will sit around and talk until after midnight (that happened last year in Little Rock).
Political Science student, Nicole A. Tinson, says, “Aside from the dinner (the ham and greens were amazing), I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to dine on Thanksgiving with Dr. Kimbrough, Mrs. Kimbrough, Lydia and Ben (children), along with fellow colleagues from Dillard University including my good friend Marques Reed, and a new acquaintance from Philander.”
Last year I stayed in my apartment, cooked, and invited those that were left to come and eat; I missed the ‘family environment.’ This year, being able to sit down at a long table, eat, converse, and laugh made me feel like I was back at home in Los Angeles, California; the atmosphere reassured me that I was part of a family here at Dillard University. It will definitely serve as an unforgettable experience.
Only in his first year on the yard, the ‘laid back,’ Hip Hop President made this past Thanksgiving memorable for many Dillard students, and we wish him and the campus happy holidays.