Sodexo to take over dining services

Students go through the lunch line in Allen Dining Hall. The current cafeteria setup is set to change with Baker University's dinning services transition to Sodexo.

Students go through the lunch line in Allen Dining Hall. The current cafeteria setup is set to change with Baker University's dinning services transition to Sodexo. Photo by Khadijah Lane.

After months of deliberation, Sodexo has been picked as the company to operate Baker University's dining services.

Brian Posler, executive vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college of arts and sciences, announced Oct. 2 at a Baker University Faculty Senate meeting that the contract with Sodexo has been finalized and will take effect Nov. 1.

“We’re going to start seeing Sodexo employees here as early as Oct. 8 because we are shorthanded with Tanya Sieber’s departure as well as her assistant director, Debbie Duncan,” Posler said. “So with both those changes we’re very shorthanded.”

Sieber accepted a position with the Kansas City Art Institute Sept. 11 as the director of dining services.

After Sieber’s departure, representatives from Sodexo came to speak to students and faculty Sept. 11-12 about what the company offered as a dining service.

Roughly two weeks after the Sodexo representatives came to Baker, University President Pat Long announced via email that a contract had been suggested by the members of the faculty who comprised the dining services committee.

“Upon completion of the full review of best practices in the industry and considering the updates and renovations needed in our dining service facility, the Dining Services Committee has recommended a partnership with Sodexo as the contractor for Baker dining services,” Long said via email. “Sodexo has a 98 percent retention rate among partnering schools, so we are confident in the sustainability of the partnership.”

Student servers who currently work in the cafeteria will remain employed after Sodexo takes over.

“Yes (we will still have our jobs,) but we have to go through a training process,” sophomore Tyrona Allen said.

Although Sodexo employees are expected to arrive soon, it is still to be determined who will take over for Sieber as the director of dining services.

According to the description of the job opening in the Baldwin City area on www.sodexousa.com, the hired employee is expected to overlook 30 workers at two locations. The person hired will be in charge of the $1.5 million the university has set aside for its dining services.

Professor of Business and Economics Alan Grant expressed concern about the process of which the decision to switch to Sodexo came about, but believes the end result of “bringing Sodexo is going to be fine.”

“I do think there was a lot of confusion at the beginning of this process that probably could have been cleared up if they would’ve been a little more direct and frank with communication, and I think it was unfortunate that so many people were so worried and confused about this whole thing,” Grant said. “It was nice to sort of see faculty and students’ opinions, but I wish that’s how this process had started rather than how it ended.”

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