Small Plates, Big Ideas

The Small Plates, Big Ideas program is a student success initiative that pairs promising students with select alumni for meals during the academic year. These meals, scheduled by the Office of Alumni and Donor Relations (OAR), give students an opportunity to meet alumni for focused discussions and career networking, while participating alumni have the chance to provide informal mentorship to students in a group setting.

Each meal — which can range from 4 to 10 attendees, depending upon the host's preference — can consist of coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner or appetizers. OAR will work with key campus partners to schedule and promote each meal opportunity, as well as screen, select and prepare student participants.

If you are interested in hosting a Small Plates, Big Ideas meal, contact Alumni Volunteer Coordinator Kim Easley at

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens at a meal?
The first 15 minutes include a meet-and-greet, followed by one hour for the meal. During the meal, the alumni host will discuss their career path and professional experience, while students share their own career plans and ask questions. The final 15 minutes includes a roundtable discussion about various topics brought up during the meal.

When are the meals held?
Meals are scheduled at a time that is convenient for the alumni and participating students. Meals are generally held from September to May each year.

Where are the meals held?
Most meals take place on campus at the Tierney Alumni House, 5510 Woodward. This is generally the most convenient location for students, but meals can be held just about anywhere. The Office of Alumni and Donor Relations will help the hosts identify a location that works for everyone.

How are alumni hosts selected?
The Office of Alumni and Donor Relations is actively seeking alumni volunteers who are willing to host a meal with students. If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact Alumni Volunteer Coordinator Kim Easley at 313-577- 5164 or

How much does it cost to host a dinner?
The cost of the dinner is covered through the generosity of the alumni host or the Wayne State University Alumni Association (if hosted at the Tierney Alumni House). The Office of Alumni and Donor Relations will work with alumni hosts to make all logistical arrangements for the meal.