General Manager, Bon Appetit 1999-2019

He was the man overseeing Bon Appetit’s operation on campus as thousands of meals were being served over the past 20 years. It comes as no surprise, then, that Denny Lawrence’s most indelible memories had to do with the joy – and frustration – associated with service.

“I have truly loved working with and for our students,” he says.

“They are an amazing group who have challenged us, supported us, gotten frustrated with us at times, but who have always done so with grace.”

The job wasn’t without its challenges. With university enrollment up dramatically earlier this decade, he and his staff were hard-pressed to keep pace in a kitchen that was built for a much smaller clientele in the 1960s. On one occasion, he thought perhaps the Bon Appetit staff would be liberated.

“A fire broke out in the ceiling of Klages,” he says. “We couldn’t figure out the source of it until the fire department came using a heat sensor and put it out. Afterwards [former plant services director] Clyde Thomas and I both agreed we missed our chance for a new dining room, as we should have let it burn.”

Lawrence and his crew did get that new dining facility with the opening of Canyon Commons in 2016. But as welcome as that was, it was the relationships made that he most treasures.

“One of my fondest memories was mentoring a young single mom who worked for us,” he says. “She had grown up in a dysfunctional family and had decided to change the legacy of her family. She took classes, picked up extra shifts, got her GED and attended college. I was so proud of her that we both wept. Today, she is a manager of a health clinic.”

So, what’s next for Lawrence? “Spending more time with our eight grandkids, working on my golf game and tending to our home. It’s been somewhat neglected, so it’s time for me to get my fingers dirty again and help with the landscaping and gardens.”