RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the associate vice president for Auxiliary Services, the director of Dining Services provides innovative, strategic, and comprehensive leadership for an extensive, self-operated dining program and delivers a high-quality dining experience for the campus community. The Ferris State dining program comprises board, retail, catering, and athletic concession operations. The director ensures exceptional customer service and high quality at all levels, emphasizing presentation, innovation, and well-developed culinary and production standards. The individual in this role develops and fosters robust, collaborative relationships with internal and external partners; emphasizes healthy dining options and accommodating students with food sensitivities, insecurities, and allergies; and maintains a strong focus on sustainability, emphasizing waste management and local food procurement. The director analyzes and interprets financial data, including forecasting, benchmarking, and developing monthly financial reports; coordinates dining facility remodeling and renovation; evaluates and authorizes new equipment purchases; and diligently maintains compliance with safety and sanitation regulations. Consistently demonstrating an in-depth understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially in working relationships with students, faculty, staff, and community members; actively participating in professional organizations (e.g., NACUFS, NACAS, etc.); and remaining current on industry trends, best practices, and future developments are expected.
The director of Dining Services leads, supervises, and provides professional development opportunities for a dynamic team of over 60 full- and part-time staff, including six direct reports, employs more than 400 students, and develops and manages an annual budget of approximately $13 million across all business venues.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS
A bachelor’s degree in hospitality, food and nutrition, business, or a related discipline is required (master’s preferred), with demonstrated, progressive, professional experience in a food service or hospitality environment and significant supervisory experience over a large, diverse, multi-unit operation. Experience managing bargaining unit staff is also required. The successful candidate should possess strong decision-making abilities; effective organizational, budgeting, and fiscal management skills; experience working with food management, inventory, and point-of-sale systems; and a demonstrated commitment to, experience with, and an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The successful candidate should also maintain excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication, and presentation skills and establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff, customers, and individuals from diverse backgrounds. Experience working in a university food service setting is preferred.
In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated above, other desired characteristics, skills, actions, and abilities noted from discussions with campus stakeholders include:
- Administrative and managerial experience at progressive levels in a food service, culinary, or hospitality setting, preferably within higher education, with the ability to plan strategically, globally, and operationally.
- Understanding a self-operated food-service environment is highly preferred, but management experience with a third-party food service vendor or experience in corporate hospitality services is also valuable.
- Solid managerial and authentic administrative skills, with the ability to build a strong organization of food-service professionals, promote a clear vision, and steer Dining Services at Ferris into the future.
- Demonstrated collaboration skills with internal departments and external colleagues, with the ability to understand the importance of interconnectedness and partnerships.
- Substantial budget and finance skills, with the ability to forecast needs, project revenues, track expenses, control costs, understand inventory and POS systems, determine the department’s financial needs, and foster new, innovative revenue streams.
- The ability to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn the University’s and department’s cultures, accept input from staff and students, consult upper management, and then make fair and well-informed decisions.
- Previous experience working and negotiating with bargaining units.
- Sound leadership and organizational-development abilities that inspire and develop staff, provide professional development opportunities and high-end training, and promote unity and teamwork throughout the department.
- A futuristic orientation and a willingness to try new opportunities, remain informed on recent trends and best practices, and lead significant change processes.
- The ability to recognize the strengths of the current team members and utilize these skills for the benefit of the entire department.
- Comprehensive understanding of the needs of students from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds and their lifestyle choices related to food (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, kosher, etc.), and a commitment to providing appropriate options for these students.
- An understanding of food allergies, food insecurities, and other food-related circumstances requiring special attention.
- A focus on the needs of commuter students, the community, and other niche populations to push them to campus dining (vs. other off-campus opportunities).
- The ability to make difficult decisions when necessary, conduct difficult conversations as appropriate, and equitably balance the needs of the people with the organization’s needs.
- Transparent communications, excellent public relations skills, and the ability to reach all levels of the University and external stakeholders.
- Assessment skills that effectively inform the development of short- and long-term strategic and operational plans around the Ferris student body’s dining, food, and nutritional needs.
- The ability to act as a brand ambassador for Dining Services, serving as the “expert” on dining-related issues and the “face” of the department to the Ferris community.
- Adaptability in all situations, with the flexibility to move from one “lane” adeptly and quickly to another as circumstances dictate, and the patience to understand that outcomes may not always come about as soon as they would like.
- Demonstrated skills as an advocate and champion for diversity, equity, inclusivity, accessibility, and social justice, and a willingness to stand up for these values.
- Experience in and a focus on all aspects of sustainability.
- Technology skills and social media savvy, with the ability to leverage hardware, software, and social media for maximum effectiveness.
- Strategic risk-taking and the promotion of creativity in every area of the position.
- Strong marketing skills, with the ability to tell the story of Dining Services and promote the successes and services of the department.
- Approachability and timely responsiveness, with a continuous focus on improving the student and staff experience.
- Knowledge of trends, innovations, and best practices in the food-service industry, with demonstrated successes in implementing these concepts.
- High visibility and a willingness to get out of the office, attend student events, serve on campus committees, and proactively engage with the campus community.
- Energy and enthusiasm for the role, passion for the work, empathy and compassion for others, and a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.
- A comprehensive commitment to customer service at all times and in all situations.
- Problem-solving skills, with the ability to determine needs and quickly and appropriately address issues as they arise.
- A significant level of humility and willingness to “roll up their sleeves” and work alongside staff in their various roles.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
The most recent director of Dining Services spent three years in the role before ultimately leaving the higher education food services market in early 2022. The previous director, who retired in 2018, had served at Ferris State University for over 30 years, 25 of those years leading Dining Services. Spelman Johnson is now assisting Ferris State in filling this crucial role.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The next director of Dining Services at Ferris State University must possess a broad and deep understanding of national trends and best practices concerning dining, catering, retail, and concession-related operations, as well as an exemplary record of strong organizational and professional team development in a food or auxiliary services environment. The director should be a dynamic leader capable of managing complex situations, committed to the well-being and support of students and the staff they oversee, and equipped to contribute at a strategic and operational level at a medium-sized public higher education institution.
This role requires a high standard of excellence, attention to detail, customer service, and a forward-thinking mindset. A strong passion for dining services, the ability to show interest in and understand the multiple aspects of a comprehensive dining operation, and a deep understanding of today’s students’ changing dining and food-related needs are necessary for the candidate to be successful in this position.
Ferris State University must identify a competent and visionary individual who can foster common goals; promote, uplift, and professionally develop the staff; and boldly lead the program successfully into the future. The following were identified as possible opportunities, priorities, and challenges for the new director of Dining Services.
- The new director should recognize that the scope of operations for Dining Services at Ferris State University is broad and diverse, including the following:
- An extensive board plan featuring the Rock Café and the Quad Café, which provides all-you-can-eat options and flexible use of dining swipes
- Full-service catering services
- Retail outlets such as Starbucks Coffee (two locations), the Market Convenience Store, The Grille Pit kiosk, Erbert and Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop, Bulldog Bites Food Truck, Founders Grille at Katke Golf Course, and Ferris Outfitters Grab N’ Go
- The newest addition to the portfolio, Athletics Concessions, and the opportunity to build this dynamic program from scratch around the championship-caliber Bulldog athletics program, which competes at the NCAA Division II level in most sports
- The current staff of Ferris State’s Dining Services is exceptionally committed to serving students in every way, and they are dedicated to offering the best service possible. The new director should plan to spend quality time within the various departments, get to know the staff as individuals, learn their particular needs, begin to develop trust and confidence, provide comprehensive professional support, lead by example, and make it a priority to oversee their ongoing growth and development. With a great mix of newer and more seasoned staff, Dining Services should provide the director with ample opportunities to connect relationally and utilize their leadership skills to promote and support staff on many levels, going above and beyond whenever possible. Listening carefully to their ideas, suggestions, and needs will be critical for ongoing team development and establishing the new director as a champion and leader.
- Ferris State University Dining Services is proud to be an independent, self-run operation that is not contracted out to a third-party entity, so the director has the opportunity and institutional support to be creative, innovative, and responsive. As noted above, the staff of Dining Services is exceptionally proud of the services and quality of food they provide to the Ferris community, so the new director will be entering a flourishing environment that is energized, student-focused, and ready for the influx of ideas this individual will bring to the table. The individual in this role should be prepared to provide the same quality food, customer service, productivity, output, and yield currently in place, ensuring that all levels of management are part of the decision-making process and continually seeking new and improved ways to serve the campus.
- It will be essential that the new director commits to a comprehensive culture of collaboration and partnering, as Ferris State University is committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of the campus culture. Strong collaboration is an absolute necessity in all endeavors to ensure success. Upon arrival, the director should conduct a comprehensive “listening tour” to foster open communication, increased transparency, opportunities for feedback, and stakeholder involvement. Relationships and collaboration on the Ferris State campus create an interconnectedness that fosters a very collegial environment, so the director should work diligently from their first day on campus to develop and promote these partnerships and quickly build rapport with the internal staff, the Division of Auxiliary Services, other partners and colleagues throughout campus, and external retail vendors.
- The new director of Dining Services should quickly formulate a solid and effective working relationship with the local unit of the AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which represents a majority of the staff who comprise the department. The current relationship between Dining Services management and the union is positive, so the director will find a great environment to continue the existing relationship and build it even further.
- The director role provides an excellent opportunity for direct student contact and impact. Many students and organizations look to Dining Services for support, advice, and direction. The new director should quickly reach out to these various students and groups, learn their needs and desires, and develop strong partnerships across the board. Utilizing student input will be critical for the ongoing success of the dining program.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential parts of the Ferris community, and the director should be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts. Dining Services must be a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity, accessibility, and an unbiased, supportive environment at all times, with the director forging the way.
- Auxiliary Services supports continued advancement and change, which can be fast and dramatic. The new director of Dining Services will be asked to come on board, learn about the office, staff, and institution, and move forward quickly while simultaneously ensuring that the successful programs and services currently in place continue to be celebrated and strengthened.
- The food and dining supply chain has recently been disrupted due to the pandemic, and Ferris still feels some of those effects today. The new director will need to research solutions to this issue, while also seeking fresh and more flavorful ingredients for recipes (and how to obtain them) and effectively addressing an overall perception that Ferris’s food quality has recently seen a downturn.
- Ferris State’s geographic location in Big Rapids, set in west-central Michigan, provides one-hour access to larger, more metropolitan areas such as Grand Rapids and Traverse City while still residing in a smaller, close-knit community. Across the board, stakeholders reiterated that they liked working at Ferris, are very supportive of each other, enjoy the vibrancy of the University, feel much collegiality, appreciate the institutional benefits, and believe that there are many opportunities to make a big difference in this role. Additionally, the Big Rapids community is very involved with the campus, remains very open and inviting to town-gown relationships, and, according to stakeholders, maintains a very reasonable cost of living and a sense of familiarity and belonging.
- This is an exciting time to join Ferris State University and an outstanding opportunity for the successful candidate to put their professional mark on Dining Services, growing and developing the program over time. There is tremendous support from the administration for the director and the services that emanate from this department, so the successful candidate can look forward to visioning and strategizing with the associate vice president of Auxiliary Services, peers and colleagues, and the internal staff to move Dining Services forward. Additionally, a new president has brought a fresh perspective and dynamic outlook to Ferris, which gives the director a newly-imagined platform with which to work from day one.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
At an appropriate interval after joining Ferris State, the items listed below will define the initial success of the new director of Dining Services.
- The Dining Services staff is working together cohesively as a team, morale is high and rising, staff vacancies are being filled as quickly as possible, training goals are being consistently met, staff retention is strong, the work environment is positive and energized, and professional development opportunities are liberally available to staff.
- Strong relationships have been established, both internally and externally, especially with the Dining Services staff, other Auxiliary Services staff, academic and administrative departments, students and student organizations, and the upper administration.
- Satisfaction surveys show that students are satisfied with the service and options provided by Dining Services, and the director is recognized as a collaborative and accommodating partner to students and student organizations.
- Strategic and operational plans are being developed and implemented, and growth is experienced across the dining operations in revenues, door count, and scope of operations.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are supported, practiced, and embraced at all levels of the operation.
- Creative ideas, fresh innovations, and cutting-edge best practices are being developed, considered, and implemented.
- Communication from the department is timely, robust, and transparent, both internally and to campus constituents.
- A solid and mutually beneficial relationship has been established with the AFSCME union.
- Dining Services is known for the freshness and quality of its offerings across the board, the director is known to be accommodating and approachable, and the department is highly regarded throughout campus for its customer service and attention to changing needs.
OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
The Ferris State University Division of Administration and Finance is committed to developing, delivering, assessing, and improving the resources of Ferris State University in a service-oriented and cost-effective manner. The departments under the division include Athletics, Auxiliary Services, Campus Safety/Police, Finance Office, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, and Facilities Management.
LEADERSHIP OF THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
Jim Bachmeier – Vice President for Administration and Finance
Jim Bachmeier, who carries over 30 years of experience in higher education, serves as Ferris State University’s vice president for Administration and Finance.
Bachmeier has a strong record of administrative, financial, operational, and professional accomplishments and community engagement. He is a certified public accountant with extensive higher education experience at Grand Valley State University and Western Nebraska Community College.
Bachmeier serves as the University’s chief financial officer, a member of the president’s executive team, and treasurer of The Ferris Foundation. He oversees Campus Auxiliary Services (including Housing and Residence Life and Dining Services), Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Intercollegiate Athletics, Facilities Management (including planning, design, and construction), and Public Safety.
Bachmeier is currently serving or has served on numerous boards, including the SmartZone Local Development Financing Authority, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Lakeshore Advantage, Disability Network-Lakeshore, Greater Ottawa County United Way, and West Michigan Strategic Alliance.
Bachmeier has a master of business administration degree from Chadron State College and a bachelor of science in business administration from Black Hills State University.
Organization Chart for the Division of Administration and Finance
OVERVIEW OF AUXILIARY SERVICES
Campus Auxiliary Services provides supportive and essential campus services to the Ferris State University community. These self-supporting departments daily enhance student, staff, and community life, serving thousands of customers.
The following units comprise Campus Auxiliary Services.
- Ferris Outfitters Campus Store
- MyBulldog Service Center
- Ferris State University Online Bookstore
- Dining Services
- Early Learning Center
- Ferris Printing Services
- Housing and Residence Life
- MyBulldog ID Card
- Katke Golf Course
- Racquet and Fitness Center
- Shuttle Operations
- Parking Administration
Auxiliary Services Strategic Goals
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Enhancing educational opportunities
- Optimizing financial resources
- Enhancing the image of the University
Auxiliary Services organizational chart
Founded in 1884 by Woodbridge and Helen Ferris as the privately-owned Big Rapids Industrial School, Ferris State University today is a mid-sized, public institution known for its quality of instruction, large selection of academic programs, and mission of preparing students for successful careers, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning. With its main campus located on 930 acres near the historic district of the scenic city of Big Rapids, Michigan, approximately one hour north of Grand Rapids, the University enrolls over 10,000 students (fall 2022) from 44 states and 34 countries through seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State offers more than 180 undergraduate and graduate majors, including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and professional degrees; sustains a student-faculty ratio of 16:1; houses 25 percent of its students in University-owned, -operated, or -affiliated residences; sponsors over 200 registered student clubs and organizations; and maintains 17 varsity sports teams (the ice hockey team competes in NCAA Division I, all others are NCAA Division II).
The 2019-24 strategic plan is for the entire Ferris State University community. The goal is for students, faculty, staff, alums, parents, and friends to influence the direction of its future while helping the University to remain true to its mission, core values, vision, and traditions. Ferris wants to create a plan that is relevant, doable, and challenges the University.
Bill Pink – President
Dr. Bill Pink became the 19th president of Ferris State University in July 2022 and is the first African-American appointed to the position since the University’s founding in 1884. An active educator and leader nationally and locally for more than 30 years, he strongly believes in the power of education, providing opportunity, and furthering the University’s commitment to ensuring the success of all students. Before Ferris State University, Dr. Pink served as president of Grand Rapids Community College and was vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City Campus.
Dr. Pink is involved in governance and policy development at regional and national levels. Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed him to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation executive committee, and he is a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s board of trustees. He also serves on the American Council on Education board of directors, working with leaders from across the nation to shape public policy and to help more students gain a quality education. In West Michigan, he serves on the boards of Spectrum Health West Michigan, is board chair for the Heart of West Michigan United Way, and is board vice-chair for The Right Place.
In 2019, Dr. Pink was named “Newsmaker of the Year in Education” by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and he is a sought-after speaker for events across the country with presentations focused on diversity, leadership, career and workforce development, and faith.
Dr. Pink holds a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Oklahoma in instructional leadership and academic curriculum, a master of education degree in physical education and secondary education from the University of Central Oklahoma, and a bachelor of science degree in physical education and professional education from Oklahoma Christian University.
THE STUDENT BODY
Total enrollment: 10,072
Retention rate: 77%
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to J. Scott Derrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
Expected Salary Range: $95,000-$105,000
Visit the Ferris State University website at https://www.ferris.edu/.
AA/EOE Statement: Ferris State University, an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, is committed to enhancing equity, inclusion, and diversity within its community. Ferris offers employment opportunities to qualified candidates seeking careers in a student-focused environment that values opportunity, collaboration, diversity, and educational excellence. The University actively seeks applications from women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and other underrepresented groups.
Diversity Statement: Ferris commits to being an inclusive university community that respects the dignity of the individual and promotes the acceptance of others.