March 10, 2022

Hot Lunch has done it again. The UBC St. John’s College event gathering colleagues around the table over good food to share thoughts and conversation was, for the second time, one reason cited for UBC topping four categories recently in BC’s Top Employers in 2022 awards.

St. John’s is a UBC residential college for international graduate students, post-doc fellows, faculty and visiting scholars on the Vancouver campus, housing up to 180 residents from 40 countries. Designed to build community for students from around the globe, the college’s motto is “the world around our table.” Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, St. John’s hosts a Hot Lunch meal for staff during the last week of each month for $10 per luncheon. University leaders introduce themselves to the group, and talk about their work, inspirations and projects. The goal is to build meaningful university-wide networks.

(photo: St. John’s College)

St. John’s College Hot Lunch series gathers UBC staff around the table for a healthy luncheon once a month (photo: St. John’s College, January 2019)

BC’s Top Employers annual competition recognizes exceptional places to work in the province. For this year’s accolades, UBC took four categories: Canada’s Top Employers for Young People, BC’s Top Employers, Canada’s Best Diversity Employers and Canada’s Greenest Employers. Leading reasons behind the wins were UBC “forward-thinking programs,” such as St. John’s Hot Lunch, singled out for the second time. 

Said one Hot Lunch fan: “For many, if not most attendees, this is their only chance to hear about things other than what is going on in their portfolio or Faculty. The opportunity to hear directly from UBC leadership is priceless.” 

Commented another: “This is a unique UBC experience which I really have enjoyed every time. The speakers are varied, which is a big plus. The lunches are delicious.”

“I like the fact that they’re for staff at all levels, as they can really bring people together and increase our understanding of each other’s roles at UBC,” said one Hot Lunch attendee.

St. John’s has been running Hot Lunch since January 2014, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the college switched luncheons to a virtual format. Past speakers have included Marcia Buchholz, Vice-President, Human Resources; Jennifer Burns, Associate Vice-President Information Technology and UBC Chief Information Officer; Sheryl Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, Associate Professor, First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Political Science; UBC Vice-Provost International Dr. Murali Chandrashekaran; Dr. Ainsley Carry, Vice President, Students; Chancellor Steven Lewis Point; and most recently, UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa Ono.

(photo: St. John’s College)

 From left to right, Henry Yu, Jenny Lu, Stacy Barber, Eilis Courtney, Shirley Nakata, Andrew Parr, Santa Ono (photo: St. John’s College)

Here’s what Hot Lunch steering committee members had to say about the much-loved series:

“Bringing staff from across UBC to connect, break bread and learn from each other and from UBC Leadership – this is what Hot Lunch is all about.” –Andrew Parr, Associate Vice-President, Student Housing and Community Services

“Hot Lunch is above all else a place of joy and connection. It is a unique space on campus for staff to foster community and build relationships while enjoying some amazing meals! Hot Lunch reminds me that UBC is above all else about people.” –Shirley Nakata, UBC Ombudsperson for Students

“Hot Lunch is a wonderful community. I always enjoy hearing speakers’ stories about how they got to where they are now, and what they’ve learned along the way. Hearing stories humanizes titles and roles, and as someone who’s earlier in my career, I find it inspiring to know that everyone’s journey is so unique! A favourite Hot Lunch is definitely the one we had with Chancellor Steven Lewis Point – funny, real and wise. His remark, ‘We need to find our soul’ [as an institution and as individuals] has stuck with me ever since.” – Jennifer Lu, Assistant Operations & Academic Manager, St. John’s College

“Having been involved with Hot Lunch from the beginning, I am delighted to see how this initiative has become a fixture for UBC staff.  It shows how important it is for us to take time to connect with each other in person.” –Eilis Courtney, Liaison, Musqueam-UBC Special Projects

“When we think of Hot Lunch, we think of sharing – sharing our unique beautiful space with the UBC community; our speakers sharing a little of themselves and their journey that we may not otherwise get to hear; colleagues sharing conversations and stories; and savouring a meal over a shared hot lunch. Virtual Hot Lunch has been rewarding, but we are looking forward to dining together again! Thank you to the Offices of the Vice-Presidents and UBC Human Resources for supporting this rewarding initiative over the years.” –Stacy Barber, Operations Manager, and Professor Henry Yu, Principal St. John’s College

(photo: St. John’s College)

Hot Lunch created by Chef Clarence Tay and his talented team at SJC Culinary Service (photo: St. John’s College)

Find out more about St. John’s College Hot Lunch series.

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