Since our capital city’s first days, people have traveled to Washington, DC for many reasons. They come to explore the past and to chart new futures. They come to ask questions and to seek expert answers. They come to demand change and to be that change. They come to grow and experience new adventures. In the heart of the nation’s capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University (GW) was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The University offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students. As one of the largest private employers in the District of Columbia, the University seeks employees who support the teaching, research, and public service mission of the University.
Role of the Executive Director Campus Dining Services for The George Washington University
This is an exciting time for dining at GW as the program is undergoing a transformation from a retail model to a residential dining experience on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. Recently announced is the selection of Chartwells Higher Education as the dining services provider after a nearly year-long solicitation process to partner with the university to enhance the student experience through a quality dining program that is accessible, affordable, sustainable, and vibrant.
Reporting to the associate vice president of business services, the executive director of campus dining services (ED) will have primary and direct responsibility for the oversight of all elements of the university’s dining program and management of the Chartwells dining services contract, including the design and construction of five new dining venues and new dining plan structures being rolled out in Fall 2022 – Fall 2023 and beyond.
The ED will be the lead representative for all elements of the dining program, will oversee the management of the dining services contract, and ensure the delivery of a quality program at every level that meet and exceeds the needs of our campus community and the goals of accessibility, affordability, sustainability, quality, and providing diverse food offerings and exceptional customer service.
The ED will closely collaborate with leadership in the division of student affairs, athletics, the student association, office of sustainability, student advisory groups and other constituents to ensure the program delivers on all elements of a first-class dining program. Responsibility for the dining program includes oversight of the residential dining program (Chartwells) as well as the GWorld retail partner program.
Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Serve as the primary university liaison and contract manager for GW’s contracted food services vendor, closely tracking financial performance and contract compliance to minimize institutional risk and maximize financial support from auxiliaries;
- Manage GWorld partner program – over 90 dining partners, including on campus retail leases;
- Engage in ongoing dialog with service partners to ensure communication is always open to discuss/evaluate contracted service(s) and maintain good working relationships to help ensure that issues are addressed and resolved in a timely manner. Ensure university stakeholders are kept abreast of any/all developments;
- Serve as the senior administrator that handles escalation of key service and customer relations issues;
- Oversee day-to-day service and seek to instill continuous improvement in all aspects of service delivery, operations, and product quality through development and monitoring of service benchmarks and KPIs;
- Provide strategic planning, policy review, formulation and execution of business plans, financial management, and overall administration of dining & auxiliary units under dining’s purview;
- Analyze both quantitative and qualitative data and uses information to guide contractor actions/initiatives, as well as recommend, negotiate, and implement changes to contract terms/conditions as appropriate/necessary;
- Compile/produce regular and ad hoc descriptive and financial reports for management justifying and/or providing explanations on variances from projections and/or on data as necessary/appropriate;
- Serve as a member of the senior staff of business services and engage in strategic planning and initiatives at the division-wide level. Participate in university committees and working groups as a representative of the division, department, or unit;
- Review and monitor all marketing and communications involving dining services, including but not limited to, website traffic, social media presence, promotions, advertisements, and customer outreach;
- Approve hours of operations for all dining locations, including adjustments based on changing calendars and usage reports;
- Review and approve annual rate changes for meal plans, catering, conferences, and Athletics events;
- Solicit feedback from users/customers and other interested parties (via formal and informal surveys, student leadership meetings, etc.) regarding dining program;
- Forecast and oversee implementation of industry trends, best practices, and new initiatives in the market to keep the dining program fresh and relevant;
- Oversee and coordinate capital projects and major dining hall renovations in collaboration with other university units and contracted food services vendor. Review design documents and make recommendations.
History of the Position
The executive director of campus dining services is a new position.
Opportunities and Challenges of the Role
GW’s inaugural executive director will have an extraordinary opportunity to transform campus dining at a major urban research institution. They will have primary responsibility for developing a comprehensive program that creates an integrated living/learning experience for undergraduate students. The groundwork has been laid through the development of a dining master plan and the selection of a dining partner. The university is seeking an innovative, visionary leader to guide the next steps of the process to build a program that sets new standards in campus dining.
It will be essential for the executive director to build a strong partnership with Chartwells and their local and divisional leadership. While the ED will be tasked with representing the university’s interests, the program cannot be successful in the absence of a respectful, mutually-beneficial relationship between GW and their dining partner.
The new executive director will need to quickly become familiar with retail leasing agreements within university-owned facilities and continuously evaluate all dining partners in the GWorld program. It will also be important to build relationships with local constituents and maintain strong connection to the community.
Additional priorities and challenges of the position include:
- work closely with Chartwells and construction partners to ensure timely delivery of facilities;
- continue to evaluate meal plan options in order to provide programs that meet user needs and achieve revenue goals;
- develop goals and assessment strategies for measuring progress and success across all units;
- understand that change has a political dimension and that the executive director must take an active role in promoting the rationale behind decision-making to educate and cultivate the support of constituent groups;
- respect the unique character of GW and engage all campus stakeholders in the dining program;
- support efforts to build community though partnership with university departments and organizations.
Qualifications and Characteristics
A bachelor’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and eight years of relevant professional experience, or a master’s degree and six years of relevant professional experience including two years of senior leadership/executive level experience are required. The ideal candidate will possess broad experience in university dining, culinary services, and financial management of a large-scale dining program; experience with the design and construction of dining facilities; and demonstrated experience leading similar operations with a daily meal rate financial model. In addition, candidates should have the ability to interpret data to support decision making as the university changes its dining model from a retail to a residential program and introduces new meal plans; identify trends in campus dining; and demonstrate a passion for enhancing the student experience, customer care, continuous service improvement, and service optimization.
Additionally, the following characteristics and attributes were identified by various stakeholders when considering the executive director of campus dining services:
- a commitment to GW’s values;
- an ability to supervise and direct dining contract services from a macro point of view and an understanding of what the next five years will bring to the university dining field;
- fiscal management skills, including budget development, cost estimating, and cost controls;
- a customer service-based approach to working with students, including the ability to proactively create programs that will meet student needs;
- the ability to work with faculty, staff, and professionals in multiple settings and locations and to promote diversity in the workplace;
- comfort with loose, matrix organizational structures;
- an appreciation for the data that will be required to make meaningful management decisions;
- intellectual, professional, and a person of integrity;
- honest, with the highest ethical standards;
- passionate, collaborative, strategic, and smart with a hands-on, roll-up-the-sleeves orientation;
- the ability to work independently, a self-starter and hard worker;
- demonstrated leadership skills and knowledge of strategic planning for a multifaceted dining operation;
- the ability to manage difficult situations with a high level of professionalism;
- an understanding of organizational dynamics with ability to work through the complex, and sometimes political, landscape of a leading research institution;
- an understanding of the important role that dining services plays in supporting the overall student experience;
- knowledge of the unique requirements of student diners, including dietary restrictions, religious needs, ADA compliance, and the needs of international students;
- a track record of managing “green” initiatives and sustainability programs;
- an entrepreneurial mindset with the ability to take calculated risks;
- personally accountable and assumes ownership, control, and accountability for all areas of responsibility and commitments made to others;
- a sincere, open, and direct communicator;
- puts organizational interests above self-interests and is comfortable expressing candid opinions;
- highest levels of responsiveness;
- takes initiative, very high energy;
- strong intellect that is combined with a practical and realistic common sense understanding of how to get things done;
- the ability to demonstrate initiative, a strong desire to succeed, and exert the extraordinary effort often required;
- the ability to work in a fast-paced, high growth, entrepreneurial environment;
- establish trust and credibility with institutional leadership and across the university;
- seeks “win-win” solutions to help foster continued integration and collaboration;
- flexible and receptive to change;
- a positive “can-do” attitude;
- a sensitivity for and understanding of academic disciplines and issues;
- recognition that being effective and results-oriented is paramount.
Overview of Dining at GW
The university has explored various dining models in the past, and until 2016, operated under a more traditional campus dining model, with residential dining facilities on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount
Vernon campuses. While the Mount Vernon Campus still offered a residential dining option, the Foggy
Bottom Campus model followed an open dining plan, and almost exclusively served students through GWorld partnerships with more than 100 participating on- and off-campus retail dining vendors.
Designed to accommodate the busiest of schedules, students can eat when and where it is most convenient. The open plan offered variety and freedom of choice to meet student’s dietary preferences. While GW’s urban location in a cosmopolitan city provides students access to incredibly diverse food offerings and off-campus retailers, the renovation of Thurston Hall provided an opportunity for GW to further enhance the student experience with a vibrant sense of community delivered through a residential dining program.
The Mount Vernon Campus has two dining locations: the all-you-care-to-eat Pelham Commons, and the
Higher Grounds Café, both operated by a third-party dining services company under a management agreement. The Higher Grounds Café at Ames Hall serves breakfast and grab-and-go prepared salads, sandwiches and snacks, whereas Pelham Commons provides lunch, dinner, and late-night options. Chartwells assumed management of the Mount Vernon Campus dining operations in Fall, 2021.
With the renovation of Thurston Hall as the cornerstone of the first-year program, GW is building a more traditional campus dining experience, initially focused on first and second-year students, but eventually growing to serve all undergraduate students. The new model will incorporate more traditional residential options for students that enhance socialization and community-building opportunities, while effectively supporting the undergraduate student experience as they matriculate from a heavily-programmed to an independent living model. GW will be phasing class years into the residential program as it grows over the initial years of the Chartwells contract.
Students on the Mount Vernon campus are already seeing a new look at Pelham Commons as Chartwells reimagined that space during summer, 2021. In spring, 2022 students will experience a newly renovated coffee café and convenience store that will open in Ames Hall.
The changes on the Foggy Bottom campus will launch with the renovated Thurston Hall, expected to open in fall, 2022 which will house a 225-seat dining hall for first- and second-year students. That same semester the food areas of Shenkman Hall and District House will be turned into residential dining halls, and the Chick-Fil-A will move to the university student center.
In fall 2023, the on-campus dining experience will expand further. Expanded retail options, convenient grab and go options and a marketplace will open in the university student center.
For academic year 2021-22 at GW, students have access to a dining partner network consisting of more than 90+ food and grocery locations, easily accessible on- or near-campus. Off-campus dining partners can be found in the surrounding neighborhoods.
All residents living on campus are required to have a dining plan. The university currently offers two cash plan options: one for students with in-unit kitchens, and one for students without in-unit kitchens. The plan values are derived from the average amount of dining cash needed by students to support their academic year dining needs. Dining funds roll over from semester-to-semester and year-to-year and can be used at on-campus and off-campus GWorld partners.
Students living on the Mount Vernon campus are participating in a hybrid meal program featuring eight all-you-care-to-eat meal swipes per week at Pelham Commons dining hall and a set amount of dining cash on their GWorld card per semester that can be used at on- or off-campus GWorld dining partners. Additionally, any GW student, faculty or staff member can visit Pelham this academic year and use GWorld dining cash or a credit card to eat a meal.
In fall 2022, an unlimited swipe meal plan will be introduced to first-year and second-year students who will be able to access any of the new dining halls at Thurston, Shenkman, District House, or Pelham Commons as much as they want with their meal plan.
In fall 2023, juniors and seniors will be phased into the new program and may choose between the unlimited swipe meal plan option, or a block-based plan with a certain number of meals available to them each semester.
Students will see a variety of food options such as vegan, vegetarian and allergen-free, and all dining services will prioritize sustainability in their food-serving practices. GW’s student athletes can expect a dining program that provides training meals through an athletics-focused performance food hub that will also be available to all GW students.
There will be Kosher food options at GW Hillel’s new building that opened in summer, 2021 and there also will be diverse multicultural offerings at the different dining halls that will offer opportunities for programming with the different heritage celebrations throughout the year.
Detailed information on current and future dining plans is available at https://dining.gwu.edu/gws-dining-plan-overview
Sustainability and Social Justice
In an effort to enhance its campus, the nation’s capital, and the world at large, GW is building a greener campus, providing research and intellectual discourse on policies and technologies for sustainable systems and equipping students with the skills and knowledge to contribute to a sustainable future through its sustainability program, Sustainable GW. The office of sustainability leads the university in its commitment to being a model of urban sustainability and resilience by building greener campuses, creating a culture of sustainability, and addressing the university’s impact on the planet and its inhabitants. GW also annually reports data to the rating and ranking bodies on food sustainability, and dining partners provide this data to the university. More information on GW’s sustainability initiatives, including the university’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, can be found at https://sustainability.gwu.edu/.
Leadership of the division
Karen Zinn, Associate Vice President of Business Services
Karen Zinn joined GW in 2018 as the head of business services. She brings over 30 years of experience and a background in commercial and institutional management. Prior to joining GW, as principal of KZB Advisors, Karen spent nearly two decades working directly with universities and other non-profit entities in realizing their real estate, facilities, business operations, and overall strategic goals. She has extensive experience in contract negotiation and financial management as well as organizational structure and process improvement.
The George Washington University, founded in 1821, is a private, urban institution located in the heart of the nation’s capital and is designated as an R1 research university by the Carnegie Foundation. Today, the University operates three campuses in the area: the main campus in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC, the Mount Vernon Campus in DC’s Foxhall neighborhood, and a research and graduate campus in
Ashburn, Virginia. The university offers comprehensive programs for undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.
The Foggy Bottom Campus takes GW beyond the front row and immerses our community in the buzz of D.C. life. This historic campus, nestled between the White House, the Kennedy Center and a number of federal and international agencies, gives students unparalleled opportunities and turns the city into their classroom.
Just a few miles from the bustle of downtown, Mount Vernon Campus, affectionately known as “The Vern,” provides a traditional college campus atmosphere. The Vern is home to residence halls, academic buildings, athletic facilities, dining options, a library and even an outdoor challenge course, all surrounded by rolling green hills.
The Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, VA, serves as GW’s hub for discovery through dynamic research and academic programs. The campus is home to 17 research labs, centers and institutes advancing knowledge in a wide range of interdisciplinary areas. Innovative academic offerings include the school of nursing, along with a number of graduate and certificate programs.
The mission of the George Washington University is to educate individuals in liberal arts, languages, sciences, learned professions, and other courses and subjects of study, and to conduct scholarly research and publish the findings of such research.
In September, 2021 President Thomas J. LeBlanc announced that he will retire at the end of the fall 2021 semester. Mark S. Wrighton, a former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, will serve as GW’s interim president starting Jan. 1.
Dr. Wrighton continues to teach as the James and Mary Wertsch Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as chancellor for 24 years. A chemist, he was selected as a MacArthur Prize Fellow and served as a faculty member, department chair and provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received awards for both his teaching and research and has published more than 300 articles and holds 16 patents.
Dr. Wrighton will serve as GW’s interim president for up to 18 months. A search committee, formed with constituent representation, will be appointed in the spring as GW begins its search for a permanent president.
Academic Programs and Faculty
The George Washington University’s academic life is defined by not only its faculty and students’ unique abilities for turning knowledge into action, but also for taking full advantage of GW’s vast access to world-class partnerships, policy-research initiatives and one-of-a-kind learning opportunities.
As a leading research university, GW promotes the advancement of human knowledge across disciplines and throughout its 10 schools, 100 research centers, and expansive system of libraries—and, as a result, frequently produces invaluable contributions to policymaking that affects millions of lives worldwide. Moreover, all directly benefit from the firsthand knowledge of GW’s renowned faculty, which includes a Nobel Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, former White House staff members, diplomats, and other leading experts in business, media, law, science, arts and the humanities.
As a result, GW’s unmatched combination of accomplished faculty, deep network of collaboration and unique location unlocks countless opportunities for students to engage in the critical thinking and professional grounding they need to become innovative leaders who can solve the world’s most important problems.
Schools & Colleges
- Columbian College of Arts & Sciences
- Corcoran School of the Arts & Design
- School of Business
- Graduate School of Education & Human Development
- School of Engineering & Applied Science
- Elliott School of International Affairs
- GW Law
- School of Media & Public Affairs
- School of Medicine & Health Sciences
- School of Nursing
- Graduate School of Political Management
- College of Professional Studies
- Milken Institute School of Public Health
- Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration
The Student Body
- Nearly 11,000 traditional undergraduates enrolled on all campuses
- Students from 50 states and over 130 countries
- 26 residence halls and 38 Greek chapters
- 65% of undergraduate classes have less than 30 students
- 475+ student groups and 50+ intramural and club sports
- 20 NCAA Division I athletic team
- Medical Insurance
- Dental Plans
- Vision Benefits
- Prescription Drug Plans
- Health savings and flexible spending accounts
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- Retirement plans
- Tuition Remission and Tuition Exchange Benefits
For more information: https://hr.gwu.edu/benefits-programs
Application and Nomination
Review of applications will begin December 6, 2021 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 Mark Hall at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.
Visit the George Washington University website at www.gwu.edu
The university is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer that does not unlawfully discriminate in any of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or on any other basis prohibited by applicable law.