The Position


Reporting to the associate vice president of auxiliary services, the executive director of dining services will provide innovative, strategic, and comprehensive leadership for all dining services operations for the campus. The dining program at the University of Georgia (UGA) is expansive, innovative, and award-winning. The program includes five residential restaurants, multiple nationally branded and internally branded retail dining concepts, convenience stores, catering, and special event support, including football game days. The residential meal plan program is self-operated and 100 percent voluntary, generating more than 13,500 residential and commuter meal plans, and is complemented by national and self-branded retail locations that are a mix of self-operated and contracted. The executive director provides leadership for a full-time equivalent staff of over 800, including five direct reports, and manages an operational budget of approximately $55 million.

The executive director, in collaboration with direct reports, plans, directs, and organizes daily business management practices for operations; human resources; financial controls; menu, product development, and execution; maintenance; and research and development for all facilities. This position is a vital member of the senior leadership team responsible for quality leadership, service delivery, innovation, operational efficiencies, and overall well-managed dining programs.

The executive director is key to the continued coordination and development of the dining services overall brand. This position collaborates with internal and external entities to promote and provide quality service in all dining services units. This position is responsible for public relations and perceptions of dining services and establishes and promotes standards for exceptional service, communication, and access for the entire university community.

Specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Plans, directs, and coordinates all levels of the dining program on campus. This includes but is not limited to five residential dining commons, multiple nationally branded and internally branded retail dining concepts, multiple convenience markets, and special event services including game days and large and small catering events. Collaborates and supports vending services by providing fresh and frozen grab-and-go menu items in multiple unattended campus market express locations.
  • Provides vision and leadership in working with direct reports to develop and implement departmental strategies and manage the implementation of the brand service strategy and brand initiatives, including appropriate marketing strategies to support sales of voluntary meal plans and retail food establishments.
  • Aligns individual and team actions with departmental strategies and develops creative and efficient operational and business practices. Provides clear direction to mid-level managers through regular leadership meetings to ensure a transparent culture focused on departmental growth, innovative change, new program development, and commitment to daily operations and financial performance. Provides vision and relevant information to the leadership team related to trends and program opportunities.
  • Oversees short- and long-term planning and management of the food and beverage operations for the front and back of the house at all dining services locations on campus. Develops methods for improving efficiency and quality of service, ensuring appropriate metrics are available to support data-driven decisions. Provides direction to ensure variety, quality production control, appearance, customer acceptability, food cost, and labor controls.
  • Develops, creates, implements, and evaluates dining programs ranging in size, complexity, innovation, and comprehensiveness. Incorporates institutional policies and procedures as well as federal, state, and local regulations with an emphasis on food and workplace safety and sanitation. Remains current on restaurant industry trends; identifies new culinary techniques and presentations. Provides direction and support to the executive chef/culinary team in the development of new programs, menus, and concepts. Develops innovative dining opportunities that support the university’s objectives and goals.
  • Conducts dining surveys and coordinates student advisory groups to stay current with the pulse of what students are focusing on in the dining programs. Works with student groups to establish a positive culture related to student employment.
  • Responds to and resolves complaints and suggestions from the university and surrounding communities, recommending strategies to alleviate dining issues. Models strong guest service and sets clear expectations for guest service to be adhered to by all levels of the dining team.
  • Establishes and oversees annual operating budgets as well as long-range budget plans; implements appropriate cost controls; and is fiscally responsible for all financial outcomes of the dining program. Collaborates with auxiliary services contract management professionals in the oversight of third-party license and brand agreements associated with dining services.
  • Collaborates with auxiliary financial team associates to guide and recommend annual operating and equipment budgets. Identifies, pursues, and obtains additional funding sources including plausible grant and federal funding.
  • Oversees management of programs and systems (Foodpro, Atrium, Transact) to meet or exceed annual budget objectives. Establishes departmental expectations related to the utilization of programs and systems and evaluates and implements new technologies in coordination with auxiliary information technology (IT) staff to enhance the dining program.
  • Directs and coordinates, through supervisory team leaders, activities of personnel engaged in the dining operations. Ensures sufficient hiring processes, in-service training programs, performance reviews, discipline, and staff development.
  • Maintains and promotes a culture of excellence, empowerment, growth, and development throughout all layers of the organization.
  • Establishes renovation and replacement objectives to include: Maintaining an appropriate replacement program for dining-related equipment, directing a preventive maintenance and repair program for all equipment, and coordinating construction-related dining projects by meeting with contractors and architects.
  • Acts as the community liaison for dining services, serving on campus, public, and/or private dining-related committees. Represents the university as the campus expert for all dining-related issues and may be called upon to speak with local government officials, media, and other constituents. Collaborates with campus partners on matters related to emergency planning and business continuity.
  • Actively participates in professional development and organizations, for example, the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) and the National Association of Campus Auxiliary Services (NACAS).


A bachelor’s degree is required. Progressive dining leadership experience in a university setting or a comparably complex environment is preferred. The ideal candidate will possess demonstrated experience with purchasing, preparation, production, merchandising, customer service, catering, and inventory control in a dining organization; supervising and training full-time and part-time employees; and profit and loss accountability in a complex budget environment.

In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:

  • An understanding of a self-operated food service environment, though management experience with a third-party food service vendor or experience in corporate hospitality services is also valuable.
  • A strategic administrator who can develop short- and long-term vision around UGA’s student needs.
  • Demonstrated collaboration skills with internal departments and external colleagues, with the ability to understand the importance of relationship and partnership building.
  • Sound leadership and organizational development abilities that inspire and develop staff providing professional and personal development opportunities, promoting unity and teamwork throughout the department, advocating for the staff on all levels, and supporting wellness and work/life priorities in themselves and the staff.
  • A comprehensive understanding of trends, innovations, and current best practices in the food service industry, with demonstrated successes in implementing these concepts and moving a department in a forward direction.
  • A commitment to blending high-end customer service with educational and developmental opportunities.
  • Background and experience in dietetics and nutrition.
  • A highly visible approach to the role that includes a willingness to get out of the office and interact with staff in the various dining units, attend student events, and serve on campus-wide committees.
  • A dynamic and transparent communicator, both within the department and externally, with the ability to effectively market the services and tell the “story” of university dining.
  • Solid budgeting and finance skills, with the ability to forecast needs, project revenues, track expenses, negotiate contracts, control costs, determine reserves and yields, and bring new models to the table.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the needs of students from diverse ethnic and multicultural backgrounds, as well as lifestyle choices related to food (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, halal, etc.) and a commitment to providing appropriate options to these students.
  • An empathetic approach to food insecurities, medical and food allergies, mental health/social challenges, and other food-related circumstances requiring special attention.
  • A focus on all aspects of sustainability and its impact on the UGA student experience.
  • The ability to make complex decisions when necessary, conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, listen to all sides of an issue, adapt to significant changes on the spur of the moment without being reactive, pivot as necessary, and remain calm no matter the situation’s urgency.


Bryan Varin most recently served as executive director of dining from 2017-2023 and is currently the university’s senior director for auxiliary support services, contracts and grants, information technology, and marketing. Varin has been a staff member in UGA’s auxiliary services division since 2002.

Prior to Bryan Varin, the department was led by Mike Floyd from 1987 – 2012 and Jeanne Fry served as executive director from 2012 – 2014.

Susan van Gigch is currently serving as interim executive director.


The University of Georgia has a strong history of providing award-winning services to students in dining services. This measure of excellence requires attention to detail and forward-thinking. A strong passion for dining services, the ability to show interest in and a deep understanding of all aspects of a complex portfolio, and a comprehensive understanding of the changing dining and food-related needs of students are necessary for the candidate to be successful in this position. UGA is consistently evaluating its offerings to students and expects a nimble and creative approach to providing the best possible student experience.

The new executive director will want to quickly build rapport with the campus dining staff, partners, colleagues throughout campus, and external collaborators. The executive director should allocate time early in their tenure to listen to stakeholders to foster open communication and transparency.

The campus dining staff is extremely committed to the vision of assisting students in every way, and they are dedicated to offering the best service possible. The staff works hard, and the new executive director should make it a priority to quickly get to know the staff as individuals, learn their particular needs, develop trust and confidence across the board, ascertain the programs and services that they conduct, and be prepared to provide comprehensive professional support for all staff while overseeing the ongoing development of a strong team.

In transitioning to UGA the executive director will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:

  • Student hiring is an ongoing challenge. Before the pandemic, dining services employed over 800 students but currently has only 350 students on the staff. Creating and marketing job opportunities to students will be a high priority.
  • Dining services recently received approval for the construction of an 800-seat dining facility set to open in fall 2026. The current overcrowding at Bolton Hall, which serves over 10,000 meals per day, creates an unattractive environment for dining staff and students. The new executive director will play a central role in ensuring that the new facility meets the dining needs of students and the daily operational needs of the staff.
  • Dining services leadership held the team together very effectively during the pandemic, but some elements of the department remain in post-pandemic “triage’ mode. Due to staffing shortages, the department continues to utilize outside cleaning services and mandates overtime for some staff members. The leadership team expressed a desire to return to “normal” operations as soon as possible.
  • The dining program had 13,300 contracts last year and is still rebuilding participation from upper-class students who left meal plans during the pandemic when dining was closed and have not returned. Leadership anticipates continued growth for the program in the next few years as the new dining facility is completed and the university adds 525 new beds in 2026.
  • Dining services has an internal maintenance department which minimizes downtime and service interruptions.


The items listed below will define the new executive director’s success throughout the first year of employment:

  • Dining services staff members are working together cohesively as a team, morale and staff retention are high, staff vacancies are being filled as quickly as possible, trust and respect are established in the department, the director is consistently available and willing to listen to staff, the environment in university dining is upbeat and energized, and professional development opportunities are readily available.
  • Strong relationships have been formed within the dining services staff and among the larger UGA community, collaborative partnerships are growing, and the director has a visible presence on campus.
  • Students and student organizations are partnering with university dining on programs and initiatives that enrich the student experience, and the department’s student-centric approach is maintained and further enhanced.
  • Finances are strong, costs are maintained, and revenues are robust.
  • The director has clearly and transparently established operational and strategic plans, and management staff in university dining have a clear direction for the future.
  • Dining services at UGA is respected as a high-end, quality dining program among SEC institutions and across the country.

Institution & Location


UGA dining services is operated by the auxiliary division of the University of Georgia and is a service for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The division is self-supporting and receives no funding from university, state, or federal sources. Dining services at UGA is nationally recognized as a leader in the industry through the Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards for Excellence, the National Restaurant Association Great Menu Design Award, the Food Management Industry Leadership Award, the IFMA Silver Plate Award for College Food Service Operator of the Year – 2002, and the prestigious Ivy Award for Excellence. The culinary team at UGA has also received numerous culinary awards from the NACUFS National and Regional Culinary Challenges.

Dining Services Mission

Dining Services Homepage


Chartered by the state of Georgia in 1785, the University of Georgia is the birthplace of public higher education in America—launching the nation’s great tradition of world-class education for all. UGA is currently ranked 16th among the top public universities in U.S. News & World Report. The university’s main campus is located in Athens, approximately 65 miles northeast of Atlanta, with extended campuses in Atlanta, Griffin, Gwinnett, and Tifton. UGA employs approximately 3,000 faculty and more than 7,700 full-time staff. The university’s enrollment exceeds 40,000 students, including over 30,000 undergraduates and nearly 10,000 graduate and professional students. Academic programs reside in 18 schools and colleges, as well as a medical partnership with Augusta University housed on the UGA Health Sciences Campus in Athens.

Mission Statement

Strategic Plan

Leadership Team

The Student Body

Overall Enrollment: 40,118

Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,166

Graduate Enrollment: 9,952

Students were admitted from 520+ different high schools in the state of Georgia and 152 different Georgia counties

Institutional Leadership

Jere W. Morehead, President

President Jere W. Morehead began his tenure as the 22nd University of Georgia president on July 1, 2013. Under his leadership, UGA has risen in the rankings of the best public colleges and universities and has completed a series of initiatives to enhance student learning and success, including a requirement for experiential learning for all undergraduates.

Additionally, during President Morehead’s tenure, the university completed the most successful capital campaign in its history and established the UGA Innovation District, through which students and faculty partner with industry leaders to create products and enterprises that strengthen Georgia’s economy. UGA has increased its research expenditures by more than 50 percent over the past decade and has been ranked first or second in the United States for research-based products reaching the marketplace for the past seven years.

In keeping with his focus on student success, President Morehead launched the ALL Georgia program to support students from rural areas and created the Double Dawgs program, which enables students to save time and money by earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years or less. Demand for a UGA education has more than doubled during the past decade, with a record 43,000 applications submitted for a spot in the incoming Class of 2027.



For information on the benefits offered at the University of Georgia, see here.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications have begun and will 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 Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Visit the University of Georgia website at

The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or protected veteran status.