Table 12 Tradition Brings Collaboration and Friendship to Human Sciences Faculty
In 2009, Dean Linda Hoover set out to host the annual faculty meeting at the Overton Hotel. What started as a simple faculty workshop activity grew to become an honored tradition for faculty members to learn and grow alongside one another.
The initial meeting set by Dean Linda Hoover took place at the Overton Hotel. Each numbered table was led by one faculty member. Table 12 was led by Barbara Allison, Ph.D. and the name stuck. The group would continue to meet for years to better facilitate faculty roles and friendships across departments in the College of Human Sciences.
Table leader Dr. Allison said that Lynn Huffman, Ph.D. asked the groups to continue meeting once or twice a year. Although many of the other groups did not continue to meet for long, Table 12 continues the tradition to this day.
"Although I didn't anticipate that a faculty workshop activity would result in a group with such longevity, what a wonderful example of collaboration and collegiality," Dean Hoover said. "These types of relationships are the core of what the College of Human Sciences aims to be. I was so pleased to learn that 'Table 12' is still going strong!"
Although the group meeting now serves as more of a social function, the group was originally tasked with discussion questions to better get to know one another's interests and research focus.
"Table 12 was located at the back of the ballroom and as faculty members walked in, I invited faculty members to sit at table 12," Dr. Allison said. "It ended up that we were all female and had a very congenial group comprised of Betty Stout, Elizabeth Sharp, Sandra Houston, Nicole Morelock, Sylvia Niehuis, Vickie Hampton, and myself."
Nichole Morelock, Ph.D. said that support is a large part of what she gained both personally and professionally from the group.
"We are all at different points in our career and have wisdom to share from our unique perspectives," Dr. Morelock said. "At the end of a long semester it is nice to debrief with a group of empathic colleagues. We have celebrated joyous life events and commiserated in difficult times. I appreciate knowing that this amazing group of women are right around the corner, literally, if I need something."
Dean Hoover set out to improve the community and connections between the departments in the College of Human Sciences so that faculty members could be more successful when working together.
Vickie Hampton, Ph.D. said that Table 12 allowed her to learn about how other departments operate and gain insight into the roles of each faculty member.
"It's definitely been valuable," Dr. Hampton said. "For me, it's added to the enjoyment of being in this college. Our departments are so diverse in terms of content and programs, and it's great to hang out with people that are just fun to be with. Our lunch conversation is a mix of catching up personally and a touch of what's happening at the office."
This collaboration has established a unique friendship between departmental leadership. The group even joined together in celebration with a wedding gift for Elizabeth Sharp, Ph.D.
"Table 12 is one of my favorite things about Human Sciences," Dr. Sharp said. "Table 12 has become a reliable source of support for all its members. We laugh, offer advice, share stories, and connect. I feel that I am more aware of the unique offerings of other HS departments because of my membership in Table 12. My increased awareness, in turn, helps me better promote the college and offer additional resources to my students."
The group has even led to increased connections across campus. For Dr. Sharp, she says that Table 12 led to her more roles on dissertation committees and even provided her with valuable guidance when she became Chair of Women's and Gender Studies last August.
"Students from various HS departments have enrolled in my graduate seminars because Table 12 members learned more about my research and teaching as a result of our Table 12 lunches," Dr. Sharp said. "I also have gone to Vicki for advice about being a new chair. It was because I knew Vicki through table 12 that I felt comfortable to approach her."
Over the years, the group has continued to celebrate and learn from one another. From the retirement of Betty Stout to the engagement of Sylvia Niehuis, to the marriage of Elizabeth Sharp—the group continues to celebrate each other's efforts in and outside of the college.
"The friendships that we have developed allow us to feel more comfortable to ask the other Table 12 ladies questions that we might not normally ask other faculty members in the College," Dr. Allison explained. "There has been some collaboration in seeking ideas about projects and departmental matters when we would like to have the perspective of a trusted friend."