Aramark Manager McBurney to LeaveBy Yaron Koren
In a move that has been hailed by students and administrators alike, Aramark General Manager Robert McBurney announced last week that he will be leaving his post at MIT to become human resources director for Aramark's Eastern region.
McBurney will officially resign and accept the promotion "probably before the end of May," according to Lawrence E. Maguire, director of the Office of Housing and Food Services. Assistant General Manager Elizabeth Emery will step up to replace McBurney as soon as a new assistant general manager is found, he said.
Associate Director of Food Services John T. McNeill called the move "good for MIT and good for Aramark."
"From my point of view, [McBurney] was a numbers-oriented person, and did that job, but Aramark saw that MIT now needed a customer services-oriented person to produce the best food services for MIT," Maguire said.
Most students expressed similar, if harsher, views. "I found McBurney to be abrasive and too set in conventional monopoly food service practices to be able to address MIT's food service market," said John S. Hollywood '96, a member of the Committee on Student Affairs.
Baker Dining Committee Chair Albert L. Hsu '96 said McBurney lacked a personal connection. "He doesn't listen to students. He wasn't there to improve food services. He's been an obstacle," Hsu said.
McBurney angered a number of students and administrators last year with his decision to fire "Fast" Eddie Cogliano, a former manager of Aramark's West Campus services.
Cogliano was widely perceived by students to be caring and responsive, as well as willing to cut some of Aramark's profits to reduce costs. "Eddie was very popular with the students," Hollywood said.
New director emphasizes feedback
Emery said she is very excited to be assuming the position of Aramark General Manger. "My mission is to [make Aramark] a customer-driven, profitable food service program."
Emery considers being in touch with student feedback her greatest overall concern. "My plans are to work closely with MIT students, employees and administration to solicit their input as we make Institute food service decisions," she said.
"I will make attempts to get to know personallyŠ many interested members of the Institute community so that they feel comfortable approaching me with a question, comment or suggestion. My door is always open," Emery said.
Students and food service workers who have worked with Emery in the past were generally very happy with her promotion.
"Beth Emery has been associate director for several years here and done great things in that role both with students and committeesŠ producing great programs like the vegetarian program. I think the move is a timely one all around," Maguire said.
Hsu called Emery "an amazing person. She originally worked with the McCormick dining hallŠ so she's in touch with the students [and] knows how MIT works. Students really approve of her."
Adam P. London G, a partner in Baker dining, said that Emery "has always consistently been a good person to work with. She works well with students," he said.
One of Emery's main responsibilities will be turning a profit for Aramark, which is solely licensed as MIT's food service provider. Aramark currently runs campus operations at a loss of $280,000 a year, Maguire said.
Aramark's entire MIT budget is on the order of $9 million. "I certainly have my work cut out for me," Emery said.
"We will all do what we can to help her succeed, since success means both happy food service customers and a program that pays for itself, which is what we all want," Maguire said.
Ramy A. Arnaout and Shang-Lin Chuang contributed to the reporting of this story.