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Dinner dates

Dinner dates

Shannon Shelton Miller August 03, 2022

At restaurants in Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit this spring, 22 multi-ethnic high school students and their families broke bread with UD faculty, staff and alumni eager to welcome them to the Flyer family.

“It’s highly effective from a yield perspective to help them make those personal connections to create a strong sense of belonging and to help them see themselves at UD,” said Cody McMillen ’20, executive director of recruitment and admission for transfer and strategic partnership programs. “Being in their city shows them we’re willing to meet them where they are.”

A group of prospective students gather for a photo on campus.
Students got to learn about UD firsthand during an overnight stay in April. 


For the past five years, UD has hosted dinners in cities with a significant number of admitted multi-ethnic high school students to give them another opportunity to engage with the University before making their final enrollment decisions. Over family-style fare at Maggiano’s Little Italy or bistro cuisine at local cafés, students and their families listened to presentations about academics, support services such as the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, social opportunities and other resources available at UD.

Prospective students could also meet with enrollment management staff, other admitted students and multi-ethnic alumni living in their hometown. 

“The level of engagement was nice and the dinner was well-received by parents as well,” said Jorge Muñoz Figueroa ’17, assistant director of recruitment and admission.

The multi-ethnic admitted student dinners were launched to support the University’s goals to enroll more historically underrepresented students, a broader effort that resulted in UD welcoming some of its most diverse classes in school history. In 2021, nearly 19% of the 2,150 incoming first-year students were from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. The fall 2020 incoming cohort set records for the percentage of underrepresented students among undergraduates (15.9%) and the first-year class (19.8%).

The Division of Enrollment Management started the program with Cincinnati and Chicago, then expanded to Columbus and Cleveland. Detroit was a new addition in 2022, and a dinner took place one year in Puerto Rico in conjunction with a larger UD visit. McMillen and Muñoz Figueroa said other cities could be considered in the future.

The multi-ethnic admitted student dinners also complement regional events UD hosts for all admitted students in March, providing multiple opportunities for admitted students to connect with UD without having to set foot on campus. 

Getting those students to Dayton for a visit is the ultimate goal, however, and during each dinner, enrollment management staff invite students to register for the annual admitted multi-ethnic student overnight trip in late April. The overnight stay is free, and UD offers free charter bus travel for students.

Mauricio Saucedo, an incoming first-year student from Chicago, participated in the overnight experience. He said the visit helped him solidify his decision to attend UD.

“They provided everything we needed to feel welcome and comfortable,” said Saucedo, who graduated from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. “It was good to see what life was like on campus, and I knew after that visit that UD had all I would need to be successful.” 

“I knew after that visit that UD had all I would need to be successful.” 

While Saucedo had visited campus before, McMillen said the overnight experience was the first time about 20 of the Chicago students had been to campus. Many of those students came to the April dinner as well. 

While some of the dinners have higher attendance than others, they all prove to be fruitful. One dinner had just three students in attendance, but all three ended up registering for the overnight visit. 

And once students get to campus, it’s hard for many to see themselves anywhere else.

“Our intent is to create multiple opportunities for students to engage with us in their cities,” McMillen said. “If even one additional student comes to UD because of their attendance at the dinner, the effort was all worth it.”

Forever Flyers