UMass puts on a special event “state dinner” for graduating seniors complete with a “presidential” appearance…

On Thursday, April 18, more than 300 graduating seniors at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst got a special sendoff at a White House style “state dinner.” It included a four-course dinner overseen by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier and Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at the school. There was also a presidential red carpet, an honor guard of ROTC cadets and even an appearance by a “special presidential dinner guest”

The dinner was free to seniors on the meal plan and a way “to thank them for their support,” Toong says.

“In addition to witnessing pomp and circumstance similar to an authentic state dinner, our guests will also savor some delicious cuisine, observe proper dining etiquette and will be politically inspired as they go out in the world to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

He adds that the 350 seats were “definitely the hottest ticket in town,” given that there were 3,335 seniors on meal plans. Toong says the main intention of the dinner, which may become an annual event, is not to encourage more meal plan sales but to “reward some of our most loyal graduating seniors.”