‘State Dinner’ at UMass Amherst Honors Graduating Seniors


Date:             Thursday, April 24

Time:            Reception, 6-7 p.m., dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Where:         Student Union Ballroom

More than 350 graduating seniors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will get an extra special sendoff when the award-winning UMass Dining Services fetes them again at a White House-style “state dinner” replete with four-course dinner, presidential red carpet and an honor guard of ROTC cadets.

Again overseeing the gala is someone who knows a thing or two about presidential state dinners: former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, who cooked up plans for the event with Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst.

“Last year’s state dinner was so successful, we had to do it again. We were getting a lot of requests too. Many of our graduates have dined with us for the past four years and it’s our way to thank them for their support,” says Toong. “We have the best customers in the world and we wanted to give them something they would remember for years to come. In addition to witnessing the pomp and circumstance similar to an authentic state dinner, our guests will not only savor some delicious cuisine with proper dining etiquette, but will be politically inspired as they go out in the world to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Along with the pageantry dictated by diplomatic protocol, Toong says the seniors will be joined by two “special presidential dinner guests,” and receive White House mementos. Last year “George Bush” was the guest of honor.

The event is free to graduating students on the UMass Amherst meal plan.

Toong says the event is turning into part of the senior year experience at UMass. “Last year, our seniors didn’t know what to expect, but were excited to see what we had planned for them. This year our seniors know what’s in store and they can’t wait. We had to start a wait list because we had so many requests to be a part of this event.”

Contact: Ken Toong, 413/545-1504, ktoong@umass.edu
               Garett DiStefano, 413/545-1504, gdistefano@umass.edu
               Christopher Howland, 413/545-5385, chowland@umass.edu