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An easy – and tasty – way to expand your Roadrunner community

The Lunch Buddies program invites employees to get away from their desks, have a bite to eat and make new campus connections.

By Lindsey Coulter

January 13, 2020

Lunch Buddies participants posing for photo during Christmas party.

Did your new year’s resolutions involve meeting new people, getting more involved with the campus community or actually taking lunch breaks? Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Lunch Buddies program can help with all three.

The low-commitment program invites employees from different offices, departments and corners of the campus to grab lunch and have a chat. Lunch Buddies participants are paired according to their interests and hobbies rather than their titles or work responsibilities, helping to break down professional silos and build a friendlier, more cohesive University community. To date, more than 75 faculty, staff and student employees have gotten involved — and the program is growing.

“Lunch Buddies promotes cross-campus, cross-functional connections and collaborations,” said Diane Yee, director, Campus Recreation, who introduced Lunch Buddies to the MSU Denver campus in 2018. “Employees are often so focused on their roles within their departments, and it sometimes takes a little encouragement to branch outside of the office.”

“There are always people to meet and welcome into our community,” added Lunch Buddies participant Leone Dick, chief of staff to the vice president for Administration. “It was hard to connect with people when I first came here, and I want to embody a caring and welcoming environment.”

Lunch Buddies conversations might begin with work, but pairs quickly find common ground and mutual interests such as crafting or iPie. Jordan Morgan, facility-operations and marketing coordinator for Campus Recreation, appreciates the opportunity to get out of the office and meet new people, while Amanda Ryder, associate director of Admissions, High School Outreach, credits the program for turning colleagues into good friends.

“I’m always fascinated to learn about others’ interests outside of work,” added Cory Phare, staff writer, Strategy, Marketing and Communication. “There’s more punk rockers and metalheads here than you might imagine!”

Lunch Buddies has also facilitated valuable student experiences and opportunities for professional collaboration. A lunch between Sally Baalbaki-Yassine, Ph.D., professor, Marketing, and Traci McBee Rowe, director of Donor Relations and Advancement Special Events, led to Marketing students taking charge of the #RoadrunnerTuesday social-media campaign. Additionally, a conversation between Bessie Nolan, peer-mentoring specialist, and Rich Sandoval, Ph.D., assistant professor, Anthropology, allowed Nolan to promote Anthropology Department events among her interested students.

“I would encourage all staff and faculty to consider participating, even just for one month – you never know the connections you’ll be able to create across campus,” Nolan said.

To sign up, simply complete this form. For more information about the Lunch Buddies program, contact Yee at

Topics: Community

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