Wearing a baseball cap, a Chicago Cubs shirt and a pair of his favorite “grilling” pants, College of Pharmacy Dean Gary M. Pollack grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers on the patio of Wegner Hall Wednesday afternoon for the third annual Dean’s Welcome Back BBQ, a tradition Pollack started when he arrived at WSU in August 2010.
“It’s a way to build community in the college,” said Pollack, who also is vice provost for WSU Health Sciences. He chatted with many of the nearly 200 students as they came through the food line and stopped at the barbecue so he could place a burger or a hot dog on their plates. “What did you do this summer?” he asked some of them. “Tell me a joke,” he said to others.
It took an hour to feed everyone, and another half-hour for the students to finish chatting with each other and the faculty and staff who attended.  They lingered in their chairs at the cloth-covered picnic tables set up on the lawn that morning by the college staff, who also put together a food line with fruit trays, potato salad, baked beans, chips, drinks and three flavors of Ferdinand’s ice cream.
“It’s a great way to interact with the students informally,” said Pharmacy’s Associate Dean Gary G. Meadows, who worked at the barbecue alongside Pollack and then wandered out onto the lawn to sit with the students and eat. “It shows them that we’re real people, just like them.”