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Cornell employees connect over coffee, conversation and community

Connection is one of the most crucial components of building a unified and efficient workplace. And with thousands of Cornell employees scattered across campus, the country and even the world, the opportunities to connect are endless. This summer, Cornell is offering several resources for employees to build relationships in and out of the workplace – one of which is simply having a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Cornell CoworkerCoffee” is now available to all employees university-wide as a fun and easy way to meet new colleagues. Those who sign up will be randomly matched to a Cornell colleague once every month. Matches can then set up a time to meet virtually or in person for a “coffee” and the chance to chat. This offers an excellent opportunity to meet colleagues outside of typical working teams and units.

Lisa Patz, director of human resources at Cornell, recently matched with an employee of Mann Library. They had the chance to connect in person at Goldwin Smith Hall in June.

“Meeting with my CoworkerCoffee match was such a pleasure,” Patz said. “He was so friendly and engaging, and it was great to see how his experience has been as a newer employee at Cornell. I also enjoyed learning what activities he likes to do outside of work. As a university, I think we should continue to help our staff members tap into different areas of Cornell and the Ithaca region. I sincerely believe this opportunity will help do so and is one way to easily enhance a sense of belonging among divisions at Cornell.”

Seeing that there are also other employees who live outside of Ithaca makes me feel less unusual. I feel like I am making friends that I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.

Michelle Wescott

CoworkerCoffee is just one of the many ways employees can forge connections across the university. Earlier this month, the Summer Wellbeing Adventure launched and encourages employees to discover ways to nourish their wellbeing over the course of a four-week campaign. Each week, participants focus on a theme: chill, explore, connect and sustain. So far, employees have taken the time to try new recipes, visit exhibitions and different parts of campus and rest and recharge with some of their favorite activities.

This week, July 24-28, is “Connect Week,” and participants are prompted to engage in activities within their community and discover fun ways to build bonds in the workplace. For those who are looking for a way to participate, CoworkerCoffee offers the perfect chance to branch out and meet someone new, no matter where you work.

Michelle Wescott, director of instructional design at eCornell, works remotely from Rochester, NY and recognizes the positive impact that connecting with her coworkers has had on her overall wellbeing thus far.

“[The Summer Wellbeing Adventure] has made me feel more connected to the larger Cornell community,” Wescott said. “Seeing that there are also other employees who live outside of Ithaca makes me feel less unusual. I feel like I am making friends that I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.”

Many employees have even taken to Viva Engage, a platform to communicate with other Cornell colleagues, to share their experiences with these campaigns – using the app to help strengthen their communities.

“I’ve been checking the group on Viva Engage every day,” Crystal Davis, community nutrition educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany, said. “I love reading about and seeing photos from other people’s adventures and discoveries. So far, I’ve looked up a couple of places that are new to me that I’d like to visit. It makes me look forward to sharing my own adventures too.”

Employees will soon be able to join Workforce Affinity Groups (WAGs) on Viva Engage as well, which are volunteer, employee-run connection groups for faculty and staff based on shared interests. A Cornell WAG aims to help employees thrive and feel a greater sense of belonging. Employees can even submit ideas for a WAG by filling out the WAG Application to help build a community and start connecting.

For more information and to sign up for CoworkerCoffee, visit To partake in the final two weeks of the Summer Wellbeing Adventure, visit

Grace DePaull is a writer for the Division of Human Resources.

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