UNT Honors College to offer dinner and discussion with experts

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 21:38

What:     “A Green Light to Great Conversations” — The annual signature event for the University of North Texas Honors College. Individuals with skills and accomplishments in everything from Texas mosquitos and “Downton Abbey” to women of the Wild West and wine pairings lead conversations over dinner in small groups. Those who attend choose their conversation leaders.


When:     Feb. 26 (Tuesday), beginning at 6 p.m.


Where:    Clubroom of UNT’s Apogee Stadium, 1251 S. Bonnie Brae St. in Denton


Cost:       $65 per individual ticket. Tickets may be purchased online at the event’s website.


Contact:  Diana Dunklau in the UNT Honors College at 940-565-2474 or diana.dunklau@unt.edu.


DENTON (UNT), Texas — Ian Whitcomb may have a prestigious job as a sommelier at Rick’s Chophouse in Dallas, but because he’s also a University of North Texas student, he knows firsthand about paying for college without any scholarships.

That’s why Whitcomb, who will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from UNT later this year, agreed four years ago to be a table host and conversation leader for Great Conversations, an annual event with proceeds directly benefiting UNT Honors College students. Those who attend Great Conversations are served dinner in groups of eight. A host presides over each table and starts a conversation by discussing a specific topic. The dinner guests choose their conversation leaders when they go to the Honors College website to buy tickets, which cost $65 per person.

“Selling out a table provides so much to a deserving fellow student. If I sell out a table, I think about how I helped pay for a three-hour course for someone,” says Whitcomb, who said he relied on his expertise of commanding a four-star dining room at his first Great Conversations dinner.

“I stood and started pouring the wine for my guests, providing little notes about the producer of the wine and the pairing with the food. I engaged the guests and asked them why they chose my table. By the end of the night we were the most social people in the room. We wandered in pairs to meet the other guests and thank the other hosts for being a part of the event,” he said.

With a theme of “A Green Light to Great Conversations,” this year’s Great Conversations begins at 6 p.m. in the clubroom of UNT’s Apogee Stadium, which is located at 1251 S. Bonnie Brae St.

This year’s conversation topics include everything from  Texas mosquitos and “Downton Abbey” to women of the Wild West and near-death experiences and deathbed visions. Sixteen of the 28 table hosts are current or retired UNT faculty members and administrators. The list of hosts also includes well-known Dallas-Fort Worth residents such as Dave Barnett, former Texas Rangers broadcaster, and Blythe Beck, former executive chef at Central 214 in Texas, who had her own show on Oxygen network.

Beck, a 2001 graduate of UNT’s College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, said she agreed to be a table host last year and returned this year because she is a proud UNT alumna.

“The reward for me is that I get to come up to my school, brag about my college and meet a whole lot of new people. I feel it is an honor to be asked to host one of the tables and an even bigger honor that people pay to have dinner with me, so I want people to walk away feeling happy, and that we connected,” she said. “Sharing a meal and talking are the best gifts on Earth.”

For more information about Great Conversations, contact Diana Dunklau in the UNT Honors College at 940-565-2474 or diana.dunklau@unt.edu, or go the event’s website to see a list of table hosts and to purchase tickets online.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108