NACUFS: The National Association of College & University Food Services
Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Apr 30th, 2014 5:00pm

As you recall, the NACUFS Board of Directors created a Governance Work Group in 2013 charged with helping NACUFS identify and understand governance issues. The work group was charged with developing performance requirements for an ideal governance structure, identifying problems with the current governance structure, developing a gap analysis compared to the existing decision-making model and structure, and proposing an alternative for board consideration. Having identified problems, the work group then developed potential solutions to those problems. Their recommendations provide a foundation for revision to the NACUFS governance structure.

At the April 2014 Board of Directors Meeting, the board received the group’s recommendations, amended some of the recommendations, and approved the amended governance structure. The next phase of the process involves presenting the foundational elements of the new structure to the membership for review, comment, and approval.  Given the importance of the recommendations, it is critical that all members receive the same factual information in a timely fashion to allow for comprehensive understanding as well as member input.

The six regional councils, the Council of Past Presidents, and the Industry Advisory Council will be introduced to the proposed governance structure through webinars with leadership in early May.  The board will host two webinars for the general membership on May 29, 2014 at 4:00 EST and on June 6, 2014 at 12:00 EST to recap the performance requirements and the gap analysis and present the proposed new governance structure.  Members will have an opportunity to ask questions during those webinars.

Voting delegates will receive a mailing in June explaining the proposed conceptual vote on the governance structure that will be held at the General Membership Assembly, July 11, 2014. This will give members time to provide comment and input on the proposed changes prior to voting in July. It is important to note that the Governance Work Group considered several governance models before selecting the model that has now been approved by the board of directors.  If voting members do not agree with the solution proposed, it is imperative that they offer alternative solutions to close the identified gaps.

Members will be asked to approve basic foundational elements of the revised structure with the understanding that once the proposed governance structure is approved, further details and a 2 to 5-year transition plan will be developed and submitted to the membership for bylaws approval in July of 2015.

The performance requirements and gaps identified are available for your review on the website. We will be posting additional information for your review and comment following the webinars. 

I’d like to thank the members of the Governance Work Group and the NACUFS Board of Directors for their hard work and focused attention on this complex issue over such a short timeframe.  The board of is working at a very strategic level to address significant issues of risk while simultaneously balancing and respecting what members value most.  Thank you for your support as the Governance Work Group and the board continue along the 8-step process that we are purposefully and carefully following.  Exciting and historic times are upon us; be part of the change that defines the future of NACUFS!

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Apr 2nd, 2014 2:46pm

“You’ve decided to eliminate the regions?” “The Board is actually going to cut the culinary challenge?”  “And the internship program is history?” “Are you serious about merging the Northeast and Pacific regions?” “You’re replacing the institutes with knowledge implants?” “Mark is going to retire after he finishes his term as Past President?” Pleeeeeeease!

As Gretchen and your presidents travel to each region, visit with the Regional Councils, and present our strategic planning and governance update, we’re as surprised by the rumors as you are. However, we are listening to what people are saying in anticipation of potential changes ahead. There is fear that something people care about may be affected by governance changes and, absent of fact, speculation turns into rumors.

So let’s look at the facts.

No decisions have been made and any rumors to that effect are hypothetical speculation. Furthermore, the governance process isn’t looking at products, programs, or services – the Governance Work Group is addressing governance only. The strategic planning process will involve committee volunteers in evaluating NACUFS’ programs and services based on the value they bring to the members.  

Your Board of Directors is presently operating at a strategic level versus managing activities. The eight-step governance process is strategic, transparent, and disciplined. The Governance Work Group, as charged by the Board, is taking a systemic look at NACUFS for the first time in many years. We’re in the fifth step of an eight-step process to close the 21 performance requirement gaps in governance.

The Governance Work Group met March 22nd and 23rd and developed a governance model which will be presented to the Board of Directors at the April Board meeting. If the Board adopts the proposed recommendations, it is possible, but not probable, that we could have a vote at the general membership assembly in July. More likely, we’ll be presenting a status report update and continuing to encourage dialogue and engagement in July. We will not rush the process, and will continue at the appropriate pace.

While the Board and the Governance Work Group are focused on high level strategic work, NACUFS staff and committees are implementing an annual plan for ongoing programs and services. One example is in the area of membership.  The Membership Committee and our new Director of Membership Development, Shannon Lounsberry, are implementing an annual plan to address membership. They are taking a systemic view of NACUFS as an entire organization and what drives member value for retention and recruitment. As a result of their work to date, NACUFS member retention rates are higher than at this time last year. Shannon and the Membership Committee are laying the foundation for a serious member recruitment and retention initiative that will engage the entire organization.

I encourage you to trust the process, follow my blogs, ask questions, and learn the facts. We are listening to what you value about NACUFS that will need to be included in any new governance model, as long as we also close the gaps. Once a new plan is approved by the Board of Directors and then presented to the membership, there will be ample opportunities for questions and answers. I strongly encourage you to read the 21 performance requirements and gaps so you become fully informed about the issues and the process.

Look for to an update after the spring board meeting.  

Thank you for your continued support,

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Mar 12th, 2014 1:47pm

It’s regional conference season and your NACUFS leaders are presenting an update on governance and strategic planning at the regional conference town hall and business meetings.  We are delivering a consistent message to each region and gathering member input; I want to thank everyone for sharing your thoughts and questions. In addition, Past President Tim Dietzler, President-Elect Zia Ahmed, and I are also personally calling nearly 100 individuals who have expressed interest or asked questions. If you haven’t heard from one of us, have feedback or questions, and won’t be attending a conference, please call any one of us and we’ll be happy to talk about where we are in the process. An FAQ with the current status, including the 21 performance requirements and associated gaps, is also on the NACUFS website. The Governance Work Group will next meet on March 22 and 23 to continue our important work on this project.    

As I mentioned, we are gathering important feedback from our members and here is some of what we've heard: People find governance a tough topic to grasp, but understand it better when we use examples to articulate that our current governance model is holding us back in decision-making.  Once made aware, members understand that we have legal and fiduciary responsibilities and issues that the board has to address, particularly when we’re out of compliance. People value NACUFS and want to preserve what’s most important in education, networking, and information sharing. Members also recognize that NACUFS needs to change, similar to the way our institutions and departments must change to address emerging trends, fulfill the mission of our institutions, and meet our students’ needs. Members have also stressed that the volunteer culture at NACUFS is important, but that there are some things we can no longer do with volunteers due to the changing nature of our jobs and our time constraints.  People respect that we have a process of due diligence that includes the Governance Work Group of at-large members, member input, and board decision-making, and that we are committed to avoiding the pitfall of prematurely jumping to solutions. Finally, members voiced that they appreciate that we’re working hard to keep everyone informed.

The Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Rutgers is next up for me.  Please join Gretchen, Tim, and me for the business meeting on Friday, March 21 from 12:45 p.m.-2:30 p.m.  That will be followed by the Southern Regional Conference at Oklahoma State University where the town hall meeting will be held from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. on March 25. Finally, the Pacific Regional Conference at the University of Southern California where the town hall meeting is on April 3 at 4:00 p.m.  Each one of these meetings is an opportunity to engage in conversation, hear our updates, and have your questions answered.

As always, if you have any questions, email me at or call me at 406-243-4716.

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Mar 5th, 2014 12:56pm

Good morning, friends and colleagues,

Greetings from Lansing, Michigan! While I would have loved to have been with my staff and colleagues at my home campus when the announcement about the Silver Plate was made, I certainly can’t think of any place else I would rather have been than representing NACUFS here at the Midwest Regional Conference. Thank you all so much for the heartfelt congratulations and support that have poured in. I am thrilled and humbled to receive this honor and wish to express my immense gratitude for the people who rightfully share this award with me.

First of all, my staff at UM Dining: none of this would be possible without their heroic, tireless, daily efforts to surpass expectations in meeting the needs of our students. Each and every one of them share in this award. I also want to acknowledge the support that I received from the staff and administrators at Syracuse University and SUNY Cortland.

Secondly, how can I begin to thank you, my mentors and colleagues at NACUFS? I’m so proud to represent NACUFS as president and to stand alongside you as we forge ahead, taking collegiate dining to new heights, making our industry and association the stand-out across the nation and the world!

This recognition is so exciting and appreciated, I can’t begin to express my gratitude to you all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Feb 6th, 2014 10:33am

Greetings Colleagues and Friends,

I hope by now you have had a successful opening to Spring Semester 2014. At UMontana, we’re off and running as well.

In this blog, I want to write about “business as usual.” While our primary focus this year is on governance and strategic planning, the board is still attending to issues and opportunities that arise. As an example, we were recently advised of an opportunity that arose through the nutrition committee.  Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has partnered with NACUFS in the past and is currently looking to update their food allergy program. The NACUFS Nutrition Committee was asked to provide expertise from the collegiate sector regarding FARE’s updated guidelines and resources for colleges and universities. FARE aims to help colleges and universities develop uniform policies to effectively manage food allergies and our nutrition committee is an excellent resource.

Upon review by staff and board leaders, the nutrition committee was given the go-ahead to work with staff and FARE to recommend partnership parameters for this project. The board will be addressing this issue, mindful of honoring our past relationship with FARE, while considering what type of involvement we will have moving forward and how this fits into our governance process and mission.

One of the 21 performance requirements identified by the governance work group is: The board decides strategic alliances based on alignment with mission. One of the gaps identified is: NACUFS leaders and staff regularly receive partnership requests from other organizations, companies, or individuals, and have no clear standards for evaluating, or agreeing to or denying such requests.  The work of the Governance Work Group is to recommend structural changes that close the gaps.

While the governance work proceeds, requests to partner and other issues that matter are being addressed by the board through our current governing process. Members can bring forth ideas and recommendations to any member of the NACUFS board of directors. Each idea and recommendation will then be reviewed by the board and the executive director will notify you as to any decision or action that will be pursued. This is our current practice and will be continued until such time that governance changes are presented and adopted by the board, and voted on by the voting delegates.

I am pleased to report progress is being made and we are focused and methodically following our eight-step governance reorganization process. To those of you who are eager for change now: “patience, grasshoppers”; great things are happening at NACUFS!

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Jan 15th, 2014 1:08pm

Welcome to 2014, the year of the wooden horse; hang on, it’s shaping up to be quite a ride. I hope you all had a joyous and restful holiday season and that your preparations for the opening of spring semester are going smoothly and trouble free.

In our continuing commitment to keeping our members informed, I want to apprise you of the governance activities that have transpired since my last blog. I also want to share with you our ongoing activities and identify opportunities for face-to-face discussions at our upcoming regional conferences.

The board of directors approved a list of 21 performance requirements that were presented by Cam Schauf, chair of the Governance Work Group (GWG). The GWG held telephone conference calls on December 12 and 16 for the purpose of discussing the process to identify the gaps between the performance requirement (what should be) and current NACUFS practice (what is). Each GWG member was assigned one of the 21 performance requirements, and tasked with identifying any gaps. This task was completed by all committee members by the December 31 deadline. On January 8, the GWG held a conference call and came to consensus on whether or not a gap existed, discussed the findings of each committee member, and agreed on what the gaps are.

Our consultant, Michael Gallery, will incorporate the feedback from the conference call and make the necessary changes to the gap analysis document. The next step will be to forward the revised document to the board of directors, which, on January 17, will discuss the gaps, make recommendations, and then vote to approve the contents of the gap analysis document.

The GWG will hold its next face-to-face committee meeting on Thursday, January 23, at which time we will begin the process of identifying suggestions, solutions, and changes to create alignment with performance requirements and the NACUFS mission.  The progress made during this meeting will inform future communications as well as our upcoming discussions at the regional conferences.

The next opportunity for members to engage NACUFS leaders in face-to-face conversations regarding strategic planning and governance progress will be at each regional conference town hall meeting, listed below.

Continental Region                             February 26               9:15-10:15 a.m.
Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region          March 21                    1:45-2:30 p.m.
Midwest Region                                   March 3                      2:45-3:30 p.m.
Pacific Region                                      April 3                         4:00-4:45 p.m.
Southern Region                                 March 25                    4:00-4:30 p.m.

I encourage all members—especially voting delegates—to attend their regional conferences to be part of our ongoing dialogue and to be informed directly by association leaders and by Executive Director Gretchen Couraud.

On behalf of the board of directors and our assocation, I want to thank you once again for your trust and patience as we work through this important process. I look forward to seeing many of you soon at the regional conferences. 


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Nov 25th, 2013 4:48pm


As you know, my presidential priorities are strategic planning and governance. As we embark on our strategic planning journey and our process of self-examination to strengthen NACUFS for the future, we are guided by the 7 Measures of Success, What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don’t.

To give us a frame of reference, there are several markers of great associations. Great associations understand their mission. They are purpose-focused and they do a few things very well. Great associations are driven by strategy and data, not activity. They have a strong culture with leaders who seek to influence, not control. They change in a deliberate and disciplined way, while knowing what not to change. Their leaders remain humble in service of their members.

Strategic planning will address several questions to help us become a great organization including:

  • Why does NACUFS exist?
  • Whose needs will we meet?
  • Which needs will we meet?
  • How will we meet those needs?
  • To what level of satisfaction?

When an association engages in a process of this magnitude, the first and most important place to start is with mission. Mission addresses why NACUFS exists and whose needs it will meet. Everything that the Strategic Planning Committee and Governance Work Group will be doing from this point forward will be in alignment with our mission statement.

Why does mission matter?

Mission defines NACUFS’ desired contribution to its constituents. Mission is a broad statement of the association’s function and role in its environment; it is not a statement of how NACUFS will go about accomplishing its work. Ultimately, mission will serve as a filter through which NACUFS will evaluate all efforts to align our products and services with mission to meet the needs of our members.

A mission is less about WHAT you do and more about the major reason you do it. For example, there are many statements or activities that describe WHAT NACUFS does, such as to provide education, networking, and information. Those activities are not ends unto themselves but rather tools employed to achieve an end. Starting with mission will keep us focused on WHY we exist and WHO we serve.

NACUFS Mission Statement

I’m happy to report that after a thorough and passionate process involving all board members this fall, the NACUFS Board of Directors revised our mission statement to provide clarity of purpose, identify the niche we serve, and establish the focal point for alignment.

NACUFS’ new mission statement is: To Support and Promote Excellence in Collegiate Dining.”

Each of these words was carefully selected after positive and insightful board discussion. Excellence is the common end that we all seek for our dining services programs on our campuses. Excellence answers the question “Why does NACUFS exist?” Collegiate Dining answers the question “Whose needs will we meet?” and clarifies the niche market we serve.

Support and Promote provides additional guidance and focus to the work of the association for our members. Support and Promote begins to guide us as we consider what means we will utilize to achieve the end of Excellence in Collegiate Dining.

To Support and Promote Excellence in Collegiate Dining: In many ways, our new mission reaffirms our identity as an association while providing the needed focus to guide our association into the future.

I want to thank the entire board of directors for engaging in purposeful, passionate dialogue that honors our past, respects our present, and prepares us to meet the future with renewed mission and focus. 


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Nov 20th, 2013 12:17pm

I know that many people have been waiting for this blog now that the Fall Board Meeting has concluded and I can honestly say that I’m very pleased to provide this report. The Governance Work Group and Strategic Planning Committee have made great progress and are moving the association in a positive direction. The committed and diverse group of volunteers and staff held its first face-to-face meeting on November 7 prior to the Board of Directors meeting. I want to update you on where we are at and remind you why we are taking these important steps for the future of NACUFS. On behalf of the board, volunteers and staff who are working so hard on this process, I want to thank you for your trust and patience as we work toward strengthening this great association and positioning NACUFS for a very bright future. 

Why Review Governance?

In my previous posts, I mentioned that governance determines how decisions will be made, by whom and within what parameters. Each of your schools has a governance model and structure as does NACUFS. How an organization is governed is key to what it accomplishes. As a corporate governing body, the NACUFS board of directors has certain duties that it can’t delegate, such as legal and fiduciary responsibilities. Therefore, governance should facilitate the performance and duties of the board. Governance should also facilitate value creation for its members because NACUFS is an organization that exists to serve its members. The governance review will take a hard look at the entire organizational structure and decision-making model that enables NACUFS to deliver results for its members efficiently and effectively. That is why we are revisiting governance as a prelude to strategic planning. 

What is the Process?

Led by our consultant, Michael Gallery, the work group is following a thorough, deliberative eight-step process that allows us to move forward with an open mind and without preconceived ideas of outcome. Given the importance of this process for the future of our association, we are investing the time and resources needed to get it right. That said, the NACUFS board of directors is energized with our progress and committed to following this path and where it leads us. 

The essential components for success during this process include:

  • Clear communication between problems and solutions
  • Constant communication with vested parties
  • Openness to alternatives to the same end
  • Protection of the association’s economic drivers
  • Members who understand governance and organizational structure
  • A consensus-driven process

On November 7, the Governance Work Group completed the first step in the process with the development of what principals and performance requirements the organization believes NACUFS’ governance model and structure should meet. In other words, what elements are important to NACUFS in a governance structure? The group achieved unanimous consent and forwarded the performance requirements to the board, where they also received unanimous approval.

Over the next two months the work group will evaluate the current NACUFS governance model and structure and begin assessing and identifying what gaps, if any, exist between what should be (performance requirements) and what is (current practice/structure). A significant gap between what should be and what is will be identified as opportunity for change and improvement. A list of performance gaps will then be presented to the board for its approval.

When the board reviews and agrees on any gaps with the current structure, the work group will then develop alternative solutions to close identified gaps which will then be presented to the board for approval.

Who is involved and what are their roles?

The charge of the governance work group is to identify ideal characteristics for governance and identify any gaps that exist. The group will consider best practices and models from other associations to address any gaps and make recommendations to the board. The role of the board of directors is to monitor and approve each step of the process and any final recommendations for changes.

We are fortunate to have a governance work group comprised of a committed NACUFS members. Individuals selected represent a cross-section of members including small schools, large schools, geographic diversity, past presidents, industry, self-operated schools, contract schools and staff. Members include:

Cam Schauf, University of Rochester, Governance Work Group Chair
Mark LoParco, President
Christine Berro, Guest Director
Zia Ahmed, President-Elect
Art Korandanis, College of the Holy Cross
Carol Petersen, University of Northern Iowa
Dawn Aubrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Helene Clark, G4U Foodservice Consulting
Lee Chaharyn, University of Richmond
Pat McCoy, Schwan’s Food Service
Rafi Taherian, Yale University
Sam Samaan, Azusa Pacific University
Terry Waltersdorf, Faith Baptist
Kristina Hopton-Jones, University of Alabama
Jon Garrett, Premier REACH
Mona Milius, Bakergroup Foodservice & Hospitality Consultants
Gretchen Couraud, Executive Director
Rachel Warner, NACUFS, Director of Communications & Marketing
Lori Mason, NACUFS, Director of Education
Sandy Smith, NACUFS, National Conference Project Manager
Trish Collier, NACUFS, Financial Coordinator

Everyone who participated felt that the day was very successful, as evidenced by the development and unanimous support of the performance requirements. From a personal perspective, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of professionals who are focused, engaged, and personally vested in this process; I thank each of them for their contributions.

I will continue to keep you apprised of our progress in forthcoming blogs.

Happy Thanksgiving and I wish each of you a safe holiday with friends, family, and loved ones.  



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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Oct 28th, 2013 2:37pm

Greetings members,

There’s a lot to update you on this week. The board is making great progress on our mission discussion and will hold a telephone meeting on Friday, November 1, where our goal will be to come to consensus on our mission statement. One of the things that I have seen throughout this process has been our board members’ ability to more deeply focus and think more strategically as Michael Gallery of OPIS, LLC provides feedback on our discussions.

Our most recent discussions have focused intently on this question: Why does NACUFS exist? Our deliverable will be our mission: The mission of NACUFS is _______________. Soon we will finalize the rest of that statement! If you have ever been part of writing a mission statement, what I have to say next will resonate with you. Choosing the “right” word just isn't that easy. Deciding on so few words evokes such passion from the people tasked with stringing them together. Why? Because it is done by people who care, talking about things that matter to them.  And now your board is down to just a few words and we are determined that they be the “right” words.

The week of November 4th will be a very busy week for NACUFS. Many of our members and leaders will be heading to Austin, Texas for he Contract Administrators Symposium, the first meeting of the Governance Work Group, the Strategic Planning Committee Meeting, and the fall board of directors meeting. And I’m excited to be attending each of them.

From a strategic perspective, the mission statement is critical as it is essential to the work of the Governance group, and their work will influence and guide the work of the Strategic Planning Committee as they prioritize the goals and objectives in the revised strategic plan. One thing I’ve learned at this point of my presidency is that we have begun what will be an introspective process. I’ve come to realize that it will require leaders past Zia’s term who are as committed as this board is to answering the questions contained in the “elephant.” (Recall that the “elephant” contains the list of questions that we must ask and answer as we determine NACUFS’ future).

 These are exciting times for NACUFS and I am very encouraged as we begin to engage tough issues. The most encouraging sign is that members are supportive of asking and answering the important questions and are expecting change.


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Oct 1st, 2013 2:23pm

Greetings, NACUFS Friends and Colleagues:

We have previously reported that trends in association management indicate that most associations are revising their governance models every five to ten years so that they are better positioned to react quickly to change. Associations are moving away from activity-based planning to data-driven business plans and strategies. Measurable objectives and outcomes are necessary for appropriate budget allocations and to ensure that the products and services provided by NACUFS are meeting current membership needs. To my knowledge, NACUFS has never formally reviewed its governance model.

I’m happy to announce that we have appointed the NACUFS Governance Work Group. I would like to thank everyone who applied; it’s great to see such a broad spectrum of qualifications among the applicants. When selecting the team, we sought balance between institution, industry, and regional representation as well as leadership experience and prior NACUFS involvement.

Please join me in congratulating the following colleagues, who will represent the NACUFS membership on the Governance Work Group:  

  • Mark LoParco, University of Montana
  • Zia Ahmed, The Ohio State University 
  • Art Korandanis, College of the Holy Cross
  • Cam Schauf, University of Rochester
  • Carol Petersen, University of Northern Iowa
  • Dawn Aubrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  • Helene Clark, G4U Foodservice Consulting 
  • Pat McCoy, Schwan's Foodservice
  • Rafi Taherian, Yale University 
  • Sam Samaan, Azusa Pacific University 
  • Terry Waltersdorf, Faith Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary 
  • Jon Garrett, Premier REACH 
  • Mona Milius, Bakergroup Foodservice & Hospitality Consultants
  • Kristina Hopton-Jones, University of Alabama
  • Lee Chaharyn, University of Richmond 
  • Christine Berro, NACUFS Guest Director

NACUFS staff members will also be involved in the process, and I will serve on the work group as well.

Just a quick recap of what governance is: Governance defines who makes decisions, how we make decisions, and how we are structured to get results. The Governance Work Group’s responsibilities will include developing performance requirements for an ideal governance structure, identifying problems with the current governance structure, and developing a gap analysis for the existing decision-making model and structure. We will then develop and propose, for Board consideration, several methods to address design requirements and problems identified. The governance review is a critical parallel process to the strategic planning activities which have already begun.

The group will begin this process in November and I will keep you posted. These are exciting times for NACUFS and our members. Please, if you have any ideas or questions, don’t hesitate to contact Cam Schauf or me.

Thank you for your support,


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Sep 18th, 2013 3:24pm

As many of you know, I’ve had the good fortune of being selected to present a TEDx talk with Dr. Neva Hassanein, Professor, UM Environmental Studies Program on Thursday, September 19. The title of our talk is Cultivating Food Democracy. Neva will be introducing the big idea concept of food democracy and food citizenry, and I will present our example of practical application, which is the UM Farm to College Program. For those of you who might be interested in live streaming the talks, the event will be broadcast from the TEDxUMontana website. If you click on it now, it will tell you exactly how much time until the talks start on Thursday, which is 7:00 p.m. MT. Neva and I are scheduled as the second talk after the intermission. 

What I really want to talk about is the process that I went through leading up to this week’s talk. In May, I and 154 other people submitted abstracts to the organizers of TEDxUMontana. In June, just prior to attending the Leadership Institute, I was notified that I had made it to the second round and, along with 26 other candidates, would be scheduled for an audition on June 25th. I thought my audition went poorly, but lo and behold, on July 12th, shortly before my speech at the General Membership Assembly, I was notified that I was selected as one of eight talks and that Neva and I would be doing a team talk. And that’s when the real work began.

Neva and I wrote talks for 12 minutes each, but we were told we would give a team talk of 11 minutes total.  The first steps involved writing and editing, about, say, 15 times. After that, we worked with the content coach, which meant (you guessed it) more writing and editing. Once we got to the first of the 15 “final” drafts, we met with the speech/acting coach, which meant even more writing and editing; until we were desensitized to having what we wanted to say deduced to what we actually had time to say. That’s when the practice, practice, practice began, morning, noon, and night. First thing I did when I woke up, last thing I did before I went to bed, and then, I practiced all night long when I couldn't sleep. I practiced writing and rewriting my talk, speaking it out loud in front of a mirror, and standing in front of a video recorder. Then, so that I could listen to it any time at any place, I recorded it on a portable voice recorder, for my ultimate listening pleasure. In the midst of all of that, there was the photo shoot, bio writing, securing photo images and making sure that copyrighted images are credited. Did I mention, I practiced on everybody in sight until my family and friends said “Go away!” and my staff ran and hid when they saw me coming?  Just kidding on that last point; friends and family have been great, and staff has been outstanding.

Seven days, 12 hours, and 13 seconds before the performance, we were allowed access to the theater and could really practice. Last night was the event walk-through, sound check, and (you guessed it) practice.  At this point, we’re in the hands of the producer, who tells us what to do, when to do it, where to do it, and what’s going to happen if we screw up while doing it. All of that said, I’m ready to give my talk on Thursday and I think you’ll find it interesting if you tune in. 

Thanks so much to all my NACUFS friends and colleagues who have provided me with well wishes and support, and especially my friends (you know who you are) in the association office who appear to be looking forward to this as much as I am.  I’m planning on nailing it, and then, sleeping through the night.

Warmest regards,


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Aug 30th, 2013 2:36pm

At the invitation of Marsha Diamond, MA, RD, Project Director, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge for the 2013 International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show Foodservice Pioneering Concept Competition.  I served on a panel comprised of the following industry leaders:

  • Michael Antansio, Overlook Hospital, Director, Food & Nutrition Services
  • Geoffrey Mills, Hotel Association of NYC, Chairman, Crowne Plaza, Managing Director
  • Maura Doran, NY Methodist Hospital, Director, Food & Nutrition Services
  • Scott Shippey, Chipotle, Design Director
  • James Dale, Grand Hyatt, Senior Director of Catering /Eastern Division
  • Robert Doland, Jacobs, Doland, & Beer, Design Consultant
  • Bill O Keefe, Dining Equity:  Applebees/IHOP Executive Director, Development
  • Tracy Nieporent, The Myriad Restaurant Group, Director of Marketing/Partner

The purpose of the competition was to conceive, create, and rough-design a creative, revenue-generating foodservice concept for an underutilized space or non-traditional location, such as a lobby, courtyard, hallway, or concourse or any high-traffic space not specifically outfitted for foodservice.  Participants were required to submit a concept narrative, concept sketch, floor plan with elevations, and an equipment list. 

The winning foodservice concept was selected on these criteria:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Ability of the concept to adapt to nontraditional settings
  • Ability to appeal to multiple generations/multiple customer groups
  • Menu Offerings: ability to hit current or coming menu trends and service styles
  • Aesthetics; good use of colors, fabrics, furniture, space
  • Flexibility of space – entertaining, working, eating, drinking
  • Equipment choices – multi tasking, smaller footprint, ventless if possible, easy to use, mobile, energy efficient
  • Technology – mobile, diversified uses and capabilities (Wi-Fi, POS, etc.)
  • Compact footprint to convert alternate locations within a building into new profit centers and service opportunities
  • Financial feasibility, both to build and in its ability to generate revenue.

There were 11 outstanding submissions that were incredibly innovative and creative.  After much deliberation, the following winners were chosen:

  • First Place:  Global Test Kitchen, Pie Squared
  • Second Place:  A La Carte Consulting Group, Herban Green
  • Third Place:  Webb Foodservice Design, California BBQ

The really cool thing about this competition is that the winner’s concept will be scaled and constructed on the floor of the 2013 IHMRS Show.  I’d like to congratulate the top three winners and all the contest entrants for their inventive ideas and for participating in this distinctive competition.  This was a very unique experience for me, and I’d like to thank Marsha for inviting me to represent NACUFS as one of the judges.

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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Aug 21st, 2013 1:48pm

Greetings, NACUFS Colleagues,

Iiiiiiiit’s SHOWTIME! I don’t know about you, but I’m up to my eyeballs in alligators as we get ready to welcome the Class of 2017. Good luck to one and all as you prepare for your fall opening.

As mentioned in my last post, the NACUFS Board of Directors is pursuing a two-track process for strategic planning and governance. We initiated our strategic planning process through the Strategic Planning Committee and with consultant Michael Gallery on July 9. We've begun with discussions about our mission, goals, and vision for the association. Stay tuned over the next few months as I’ll continue to update you on our strategic planning progress.

It is now time to initiate the second phase of our process and appoint the Governance Work Group. (Remember, governance simply refers who makes what decisions on behalf of the association.) The group will be comprised of 10-15 individuals and its purpose will be to help NACUFS identify and understand the issues that must be addressed within the realm of governance. This will assist NACUFS in decision-making and achieving results for our membership.

The Governance Work Group’s responsibilities will include developing performance requirements for an ideal governance structure, identifying problems with the current governance structure, and developing a gap analysis compared to the existing decision-making model and structure. They will then develop several methods to address the design requirements and problems identified for board consideration.

At this stage I’m inviting members to apply to serve on the Governance Work Group. We aim to appoint a diverse group of visionaries representative of NACUFS’ membership, and we are seeking candidates with leadership experience, service on and/or reporting to a board, an understanding of what governance is, and commitment to NACUFS. In addition to conference calls between November and March, group members must be willing to commit to participate in two face-to-face meetings, the first in Austin, Texas on November 6-7, 2013, and the second in Savannah, Georgia on January 22-23, 2014.

The application deadline is September 11. To learn more and apply, please click here.

Thank you for your continuing support of NACUFS. I remain open to your questions, suggestions, and feedback throughout this process.


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Jul 31st, 2013 3:43pm

Last week, I had the honor and privilege of representing NACUFS at the American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Championship Collegiate Dining Challenge. My sincere appreciation goes out to Chef Michael Ty, ACF President, for his warm hospitality and for hosting this event.

The competition took place on in Las Vegas, Nevada amidst the 2013 ACF National Convention, and as you might expect, the craftsmanship I had the privilege of sampling did not disappoint. There were six judges and I was one of the three tasting judges. I was thoroughly impressed not only by the excellence of the cuisine I was presented, but also by how far collegiate foodservice as a whole has progressed.  The ACF chefs I came in contact with agreed that the college and university market segment is a leading force in the food industry in terms of creativity, health and nutrition, focus on local foods, market trends, technology, and sustainability.  Please join me in congratulating each of the six teams who competed in the championship, all of whom earned ACF medals:

From the University of Notre Dame, First Place Team:

  • Chef Charu Chandra Pant
  • Chef Gregory Larson

 From Yale University, Second Place Team:

  • Chef David Kuzma
  • Chef Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz

 From University of Iowa, Third Place Team:

  • Chef Anne Jacobsen
  • Chef Barry Greenberg

 And finally, in alphabetical order:

 From Rutgers University:

  • Chef Peter Imranyi
  • Chef Jeremey Pierson

 From Vanderbilt University:

  • Chef John Kelly
  • Chef Aaron Dilts

 From Villanova University:

  • Chef Vincent Alberici
  • Chef M. Werner Edler

 You have made everyone in NACUFS very proud and both associations have benefited from your time and talent in this first and historic competition. Thank you.


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Posted by Mr. Mark S. L. on Jul 24th, 2013 1:14pm

I hope those of you who were able to join us in Minneapolis had a great time at the conference and left with new ideas to bring back to your institutions. It was great to see old friends and meet new members. If you were not able to be there, please know that you were missed, and we hope to see you next year in Baltimore!

I want to recap the address I gave at the general membership assembly, where I introduced my presidential initiatives and discussed how NACUFS will be going through some changes in the upcoming year. We have much to celebrate, and we want to continue making great strides in collegiate dining. My three main focal points during my presidency are strategic planning, education, and membership.

NACUFS is the resource for campus dining professionals, and we have a proud history of success.  We’ve achieved our success through strong leaders, excellent educational programming, and resources that are highly valued by our members. Today, we are financially sound. While we’ve made great strides in elevating NACUFS and collegiate foodservice through a number of initiatives—including sustainability, national media attention, nutrition, and education—there is much more work to do.

The primary focus of my presidency will be strategic planning, which will also include discussions of governance, and I want to let everybody know why (and why now), we are engaging in this process. I feel very strongly that we have to capitalize on the historical moment created by the hiring of our third executive director in 54 years, the sun-setting of our current strategic plan, and my responsibility to present to you our next strategic plan. 

We have to take advantage of this opportunity to reassess, consider new directions, and look at everything through fresh eyes. Now is the time for NACUFS to look at how we compare to national association best practices in providing value to our members, how we conduct our business, and how we are governed.  What is governance?  Governance defines who makes decisions, how we make decisions, and how we are structured to get results. Associations today are reviewing governance every five to ten years in order to react quickly to change.

Over the next year we’ll be following a two-track process: one for strategic planning and the other for governance.

We’ve hired Michael Gallery of Opis Consultants to facilitate our strategic planning process, which will be led by the Strategic Planning Committee. The board will establish SMART goals and engage committees and staff in the development of strategies to achieve our goals.

The second track is governance.  We will soon appoint a governance work group to develop ideal characteristics for governance and to identify gaps. We will then consider best practices and models from other associations. 

We will need your feedback throughout this process, and will make sure that membership is aware of potential recommendations under consideration as they arise. Throughout the year, I will be posting regular blogs to keep you updated about the process. We will utilize Campus Dining Today, the website, the eCommunity, and the e-newsletter to keep you apprised. We expect that additional questions and conversations will come up throughout the year and we will do our best to keep you informed and engaged.

In closing, the most important message I want to leave you with is that I encourage everybody who wants to take an active part in this process to speak up and make your voice heard.  We all have a vested interest in the future of NACUFS, and it’s never been more important for you to make your contribution.  I’m honored to serve as the president who you’ve entrusted to lead our association as we envision our future together.  

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