Washington and Lee University (W&L) seeks an experienced and creative dining services professional to join the university as its next director of dining services (director). This is an in-person and on-site position, and the anticipated start date for the director is late spring 2023.

The Position

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DIRECTOR OF DINING SERVICES

Reporting to the executive director of auxiliary services, the director of dining services (director) is charged with developing and implementing a comprehensive dining vision for the W&L community and advancing strategic initiatives that further the mission of the department and the university. As a mission-focused and student-centered leader, the director collaborates with representatives from departments across campus to partner on key interdepartmental initiatives, ensuring that Dining Services is well integrated into campus life and supports the broader initiatives of the institution as a whole.

The director serves as the senior dining representative for a $10 million, 14-unit, self-operated campus dining program that includes a dining hall, several retail restaurants, convenience stores, coffee and tea cafes, catering, in-house sorority dining operations, concession stands, and vending machines. They will provide leadership and managerial oversight for all dining operations and roughly 200 dining team members; oversee the administration of student and employee meal plans; think strategically about trends within the food-service industry to position the award-winning program for continued success; and establish and maintain quality through well-developed culinary and production standards with a focus on fresh, healthy, and diverse dining options.

W&L has a goal for campus carbon neutrality by 2050 and is working diligently to reach that goal sooner. Dining services is a critical partner in meeting this ambitious goal, and as such, the director will investigate, advocate for, and implement sustainable solutions for dining operations. The director works closely with the Office of Sustainability on environmental initiatives, including composting, waste management, the Campus Garden, recycling, energy efficiency, and local purchasing.

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

A bachelor’s degree and demonstrated successful supervisory and management skills in a significant institutional or commercial food service setting are required. In addition, the ideal candidate will demonstrate strong managerial, organizational, budget, and fiscal management skills; have experience working with food management inventory and point-of-sale systems; and possess excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills. The search committee is particularly interested in candidates who understand today’s collegiate diner and can ensure W&L’s dining program is meeting a broad range of student needs and desires.

Washington and Lee actively promotes a dynamic and inclusive environment that allows students and employees of multiple backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives to learn, work, and thrive together. Successful candidates will contribute to this environment and exhibit potential for excellence in their areas of expertise.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Ryan Miller served as Washington and Lee’s most recent director of dining services through October 2022, when he left the university to lead Bowdoin College’s dining program.

 

K.C. Schaefer, executive director of auxiliary services, is fulfilling the duties of the director of dining services in the interim period while this national search is being conducted.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

W&L’s next director of dining services will be expected to possess a broad and deep understanding of national trends and best practices in dining, catering, and retail operations, as well as an exemplary record of building and developing high-impact teams in a dining services environment. The director should be an inspiring leader who is passionate about food and the culinary experience of students; committed to the well-being and support of students and the staff they oversee; and highly attuned to the professional development needs and strengths of a highly diverse staff.

Within this context, the following are the key aspects of the role of the director in which the successful candidate will need to be prepared to lead, after a period of acclimatization and relationship building.

  • There is a great deal of campus pride in the dining services program at W&L, coupled with high student satisfaction. There are high aspirations for the department to ultimately be viewed as among the leading college and university dining programs, and the director will have an opportunity to develop and operationalize a vision in support of this goal.
  • Dining services has a significant impact across campus and has an exceptionally wide group of clients. The director must, therefore, be collaborative, collegial, and work to develop positive connections with multiple stakeholder groups and individuals.
  • One of the department’s priorities for the future is to implement mobile ordering in a strategic and thoughtful manner. The director will collaborate with departmental staff and university colleagues on developing the implementation plan for this initiative.
  • The next director of dining services will work closely with the executive director of auxiliary services and the departmental senior management team on the $15 million renovation of The Marketplace and Café 77. The renovation project is expected to begin in February 2023 and be completed in phases over the next year.
  • The director will continue to elevate the culinary program by encouraging and infusing best practices into the department’s ethos and operations.
  • W&L leadership is interested in more formally integrating the dining program with the educational experience. The new director will be charged with recommending new collaborative initiatives to engage with the curriculum and academic affairs colleagues.
  • The daily work of dining services is one characterized by rapidly evolving trends, high expectations, high engagement with students, and demanding work hours. There is great enthusiasm for maintaining the high customer service standards of the department, high-profile special events require additional effort, and much of the work can be physically tiring. The dining services team needs a director who is a champion and advocate for the staff and can help keep team members enthused about their work.
  • The senior managers in the department have longevity and extensive experience at W&L and will be able to provide the new director with historical knowledge of the program’s evolution and progress. At the same time, the department has seen some staff turnover in the frontline and mid-level positions. It will be necessary for the director to develop creative approaches to working within the local labor market and retaining valued members of the staff.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

At an appropriate interval after joining the Washington and Lee community, the following items will initially define success for the new director of dining services.

  • The director has demonstrated a leadership style that is collaborative, curious, and strategic.
  • The director has developed a deep understanding of the W&L community, and has taken time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the department in order to advance a vision of culinary excellence.
  • The director has developed strong rapport with the department’s management team.
  • The director has successfully integrated themselves in the dining facilities renovation projects.
  • The director has established strong working relationships and partnerships with peers, direct reports, students, and key institutional colleagues.
  • The director has identified the needs and priorities of the various client groups and been responsive and successful in adjusting or shifting operations nimbly.
  • Staff expectations are communicated and performance is carefully assessed, with opportunities for growth and continual improvement identified, monitored, and assessed.

Institution & Location

OVERVIEW OF DINING SERVICES AT WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY

Dining Services at W&L is self-operated and comprises the following operations and functions.

Menu Management Software: CBORD NetMenu
POS Software: Transact

The department employs over 200 full and part-time staff and approximately 40 student employees and departmental budgets total $10 million.

Dining Services organizational chart

LEADERSHIP OF THE DIVISION

K.C. Schaefer – Executive Director of Auxiliary Services

The director of dining services reports to K.C. Schaefer, Washington and Lee’s executive director of auxiliary services. In that capacity, Schaefer’s oversight responsibilities include dining services, the University Store, copy services, and mail services. A native of Troy, Ohio, Schaefer earned his Bachelor of Arts from Washington and Lee University in 2004, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in politics and concentrations in English and mathematics. After graduating, he worked for W&L in the University Store, serving in various capacities, including book buyer, merchandise manager, associate director, and director. During his tenure as the director, W&L’s University Store was a finalist for NACS’ Collegiate Retailer of the Year Award and was recognized as one of the highest-performing college stores in the country by sales-per-student. In 2014, he assumed the role of director of administrative services, adding copy and mail services to his portfolio, and then in 2017 assumed his current position of executive director of auxiliary services.

Given his university tenure as a student and employee, Schaefer has an intimate knowledge of its inner workings and is well-connected across all administrative departments. He has a deep understanding of W&L’s student culture and has a firm grasp of student expectations and needs. His experience at the institution positions him well to provide informed, collaborative leadership for the director of dining services. Schaefer has served on numerous university-wide committees, including the COVID-19 Committee, playing an instrumental role in Washington and Lee’s navigation of the pandemic. He currently serves on the University Sustainability Committee. Schaefer is a self-described ‘foodie’ and lover of travel and international cuisine, which makes dining services his favorite managerial responsibility.

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

Washington and Lee University is a top-ranked private institution in Lexington, Virginia, where the rigorous inquiry and critical thinking of a liberal arts curriculum are integrated with nationally accredited undergraduate programs in business and journalism and a graduate School of Law. Its graduates, mentored by a faculty of teacher-scholars, are prepared to make a meaningful impact wherever they go in the world.

W&L is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in America, and its historic campus, situated in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, is home to a vibrant, welcoming community distinguished by an entirely student-run Honor System that pushes students to take responsibility and realize their potential as citizens, peers, and leaders.

With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,860, Washington and Lee’s small size enables students to find mentors and develop personal relationships across campus. W&L has a three-year on-campus housing requirement, and 62 percent of students live on-campus in traditional residence halls, apartments, townhouses, Greek, and themed housing.

Mission and vision

Strategic planning

INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP

William C. Dudley – President

William C. (Will) Dudley became the 27th president of Washington and Lee University on January 1, 2017. Under his leadership, W&L has made significant progress in attracting highly qualified and increasingly diverse students, faculty, and staff to Lexington. The university has implemented curricular and capital initiatives from the strategic plan, bolstering its commitment to interdisciplinary programs with new minors in legal studies, entrepreneurship, and data science. Dudley has also overseen the updating of the campus master plan, which includes a teaching and learning center; expanded facilities for the sciences and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics; a museum of institutional history and culture; and a center for admissions and financial aid.

Prior to joining W&L, Dudley was a member of the faculty at Williams College for 18 years and served as provost from 2011 to 2016. In this role, he oversaw the operations supporting the college’s academic mission, allocated budgets and positions, and undertook strategic initiatives. He also established priorities for Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams, which was launched in October 2015 and raised more than $750 million.

A Virginia native, born in Charlottesville and raised in Arlington, Dudley received his BA in mathematics and philosophy, magna cum laude, from Williams College in 1989. He was captain of the water polo team, a member of the swim team, and the recipient of a Herchel Smith Fellowship to study at Cambridge University from 1989 to 1990. Dudley worked for AES from 1990 to 1992 before pursuing graduate studies at Northwestern University, where he earned an MA and a PhD in philosophy.

University leadership

Organizational chart

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION AT WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY

Washington and Lee University affirms that diverse perspectives and backgrounds enhance the community; and is committed to the recruitment, enrichment, and retention of students, faculty, and staff who embody many experiences, cultures, points of view, interests, and identities. As engaged citizens in a global and diverse society, Washington and Lee seeks to advance a positive learning and working environment for all through open and substantive dialogue.

For more information on diversity, equity, and inclusion at W&L, see here.

THE STUDENT BODY (Fall 2022)

Total enrollment: 2,243

Undergraduate: 1,867

Law school: 376

For more detailed student demographic information, see here.

Benefits Overview

Washington and Lee University offers the following benefits, among others, to qualified employees.

  • Generous paid time off
  • Paid holidays (up to 10 days)
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Basic life, supplemental life, and long-term care insurance
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Retirement savings plan (up to 10% matching contribution)
  • Tuition-free courses at Washington and Lee
  • Associated Colleges of the South Tuition Exchange Program
  • Home loan program

See here for information on the benefits offered at Washington and Lee University.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin Monday, February 13, 2023, 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 may be emailed to Michel R. Frendian, Senior Consultant, at mrf@spelmanjohnson.com.

Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email info@spelmanjohnson.com.

Virginia is a state that does not require public salary disclosure. For more information, please contact Michel R. Frendian.

 COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

Washington and Lee requires employees to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and new employees must provide proof of at least their first shot before the first day of employment. Boosters are required. Individuals may seek a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement.

Visit the Washington and Lee University website at www.wlu.edu and the Washington and Lee Dining Services website at https://my.wlu.edu/dining-services.

 In compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and all other applicable non-discrimination laws, Washington and Lee University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran’s status, or genetic information in its educational programs and activities, admissions, and with regard to employment.