Vice Provost Callahan invites students to Thanksgiving dinner

DD - Callahan
So far, Callahan is the only ASU dean to hold this type of event for students. (Jessica Zook/DD)

For college students, Thanksgiving typically means going home and spending time with family. However, that’s not the case for some out-of-state students who aren’t able to make the trip. Luckily for those students, Downtown campus Vice Provost Christopher Callahan comes to the rescue each year.

Callahan, who is also dean of the Walter Cronkite School, has invited journalism students to his home for Thanksgiving dinner since 2007.

“I hated the idea of a student whose family is far away and was alone for a family holiday,” Callahan said. “Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that the more people around our table, the more festive it is.”

Each Thanksgiving Day, Callahan rents a van and picks up students, who previously signed up for the dinner, at Taylor Place around 2:30 p.m. He then drives everyone 40 minutes to his home in Scottsdale, where they spend the rest of the evening eating, watching football and socializing. Four students attended in 2007, and Callahan stated the number fluctuates with each year. He will know how many are attending this year later on Wednesday.

Journalism sophomore Shayne Dwyer and fourteen other students attended the feast in 2010. Dwyer, who came to ASU from Philadelphia, did not fly home because of the cost.

Dwyer said he overdressed for the dinner, wearing a nice shirt and tie while Callahan wore a polo. Dwyer said he enjoyed being back in a family atmosphere along with good food. He also played Callahan in a game of foosball — which the dean won — in the kitchen.

“He’s a very welcoming person, and I’m very grateful that I got to go,” Dwyer said. “I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Lauren Handley, a journalism freshman, was also unable to fly home to Pennsylvania this year due to the cost of flights. She will attend the Callahan Thanksgiving.

“I’m excited to spend Thanksgiving with a family,” Handley said. “I never thought I’d be close to the dean of my school. I know people in college who have never even seen their dean. It’s really cool to call my parents and say, ‘Oh I’m having dinner with the dean.’”

Handley can look forward to three turkeys, mashed potatoes, string bean casserole, cranberry sauce, two types of stuffing and a marshmallow-topped sweet potato dish prepared by Callahan and his family.

Students can also expect to receive leftovers, as that’s “one of the great things about Thanksgiving,” Callahan said.

Callahan’s generosity toward his students on Thanksgiving is not a fluke, said Cronkite School Associate Dean Marianne Barrett.

“He loves students,” she said. “It’s the high point of his day.”

Students, such as journalism freshman Brandi Porter, also appreciate the sincerity Callahan displays to them.

“I think he’s a really good dean,” Porter said, who is also attending Callahan’s Thanksgiving. “The fact that he’s willing to open up his home shows he takes his job not just professionally but personally.”

Though Callahan is now Vice Provost for the downtown campus, the Thanksgiving invitation is still limited to students of the Cronkite School because of space and food limitations.

However, he plans on continuing this Thanksgiving tradition for years to come. All Cronkite students, from freshmen to seniors, are welcome to his family dinner.

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