The Center for Public Administration and Policy’s High Table is a highly anticipated annual event that brings together faculty, students, alumni, and invited guests to celebrate the life of the mind. 

It is a celebration steeped in tradition, adopted by the center in 1986 based on similar events held for centuries at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, where faculty and students would come together in ceremonious fashion to share a meal and listen to an honored faculty member speak on a topic of importance for their field.

“High Table is our chance to celebrate the life of the mind, which means we think big thoughts but also have some fun. The event is unique among the many fine Virginia Tech traditions, and it connects past, present, and future by reminding us of our history, culture, and aspirations,” said Brian Cook, professor and program chair for the Center for Public Administration and Policy.

The 2013 High Table is scheduled for April 5 and 6, and will feature guest of honor Dvora Yanow of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Yanow’s research and teaching interests include organizational and political ethnography, public policy meanings and social change, state creation and the use of race-ethnic and nationality categories, and immigrant integration policies and practices. She received her Ph.D. in planning, policy and organizational studies from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Brandeis University.

Yanow will give two talks over the course of the two-day event. The first talk, “Statistical science, scientists, and policy thinking: State-created categories for race-ethnic groups” will take place during the Scholar's Lunch on Friday, April 5. 

With the support of a grant from the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, the talk will be free and open to the public.

The Scholar's Lunch will be held in the Bowman Club Room in the Jamerson Athletic Center, adjacent to Cassell Coliseum. The talk is scheduled for 12:45-2 p.m. on April 5. There will be a light lunch preceding the talk, from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., that is also open to the public, but registration and payment are required. Additional information and registration are available on the High Table website.

Yanow will also deliver the main address, “Learning a practice: Insights from a lifelong learning view”at the High Table Luncheon on Saturday, April 6.   

The High Table Luncheon is the culmination of the High Table activities, and in many ways it is the most recognizable portion of the annual event. Each year, the luncheon begins with a procession in full academic regalia from the center’s Thomas-Conner House on Draper Road building to Owens Hall for the High Table luncheon. 

As shown in this video from the 2012 High Table, the processional offers an unusual blend of academic tradition and fun.

“High Table offers a time for contemplation in the fields of public administration and policy. It is an occasion to reflect on the special nature of scholarly thought and the pursuit and sharing of knowledge,” said Cook.

The event, which is organized in large part by the student organization Public Administrators of Virginia Tech, is also an important opportunity to bring together faculty, students, and graduates from the Center for Public Administration and Policy’s locations in Richmond and Alexandria Va., to the Blacksburg campus.

Information on the full schedule of events during the two days is available on the High Table website. Registration is required for attendance, and a form is available on the site.