Developed from a partnership between Dr. Jim Rawson, chief of radiology, Dr. Michelle Bryan of the College of Education, and the Office of Leadership Development, the Randomized Coffee Trials are succeeding in bringing folks at Augusta University closer together.
“It’s a great way to break down barriers and get people talking,” said Susan Everitt, director of alumni affairs. “It forces you to leave your comfort zone a little bit.”
The program, which kicked off in June, is a play on the idea of randomized clinical trials. Basically, two people are randomly pared from across the entire Augusta University enterprise with the goal of sharing a cup of coffee and therefore bridging disciplines and geographic locations.
The coffee brings people together; the rest is up to them.
Everitt was paired with Dr. Chris McKinney, associate vice president for innovation commercialization, whose office is on the Health Sciences Campus. Everitt works on the Summerville Campus, and the two met at the Starbucks in the Jaguar Student Activities Center (JSAC) on the Summerville Campus where she works.
“We talked about our families, we talked about our kids, and we talked a little about work,” McKinney said. “But it wasn’t driving to some endpoint. We talked about common connections in a way that was social and had an upbeat kind of flavor.”
The meeting lasted for an hour and a half and would have lasted longer if Everitt hadn’t had a meeting to attend.
Mission accomplished, you might say.
“I felt like I’d made a connection and that if I ever encounter something about the Health Sciences Campus I’m not familiar with, I have someone to call,” Everitt said.
As more and more people are matched by the popular program, Everitt anticipates the perceived distances will shrink as well as the barriers.
“From my perspective, one of the great things will be it will help people see that the campuses are not as different as people think,” Everitt said. “I think it will go a long way toward creating the one university.”
“I think it’s a bonding thing for our university,” he said. “I think we both walked out of that meeting more excited about Augusta University.”
Would they recommend the randomized coffee trials to others?
“Beyond recommending, I would urge people to sign up,” McKinney said. “It has the feeling of being simple, repeatable and valuable, and things that are simple, repeatable and valuable are really, really good.”
Registration for the Randomized Coffee Trials is ongoing, and those attending Tuesday’s Fall Kickoff will have the opportunity to sign up, ask questions and view the series of promotional videos made to support the event.”