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Search for Dining Contractors, Director Goes to Final Stages

By Zareena Hussain
News Editor

MIT's searches for two new dining contractors and a director of the newly-formed Office of Campus Dining are entering their final stages.

Nearly a year ago, the Institute Dining Review Group outlined a dramatic restructuring of MIT's food service system. The group called for the campus to be divided into separates zones with different contractors. This system will be in place by next fall.

Zone one will provide the dining services for all the residential dining halls, as well as Lobdell Food Court, the MIT Faculty Club, and dining facilities in E51. Zone two services the main MIT dining facilities including Walker Memorial and its satellite facilities. Zone one is more than twice the size in terms of gross earnings, said Director of the Campus Activities Complex Philip J. Walsh.

"We constructed both zones in a way that the zone income potential is in direct relation to the size and volume of the business," he said.

Bidding process near completion

Ten companies participated in the bidding process for service contracts with MIT's dining facilities. Aramark has been among the bidders.

"The majority of the ten spent a lot of time and invested a lot of money," in visiting in assessing the campus, Walsh said.

Each contractor will submit a proposal to the Institute Dining Implementation team in December and in January will come to campus to give presentations. The final decision will be made by the Institute Dining Implementation Team.

"The farthest a decision could be put off to will be around the first of March," Walsh said. "My sense is we can complete our task by the beginning of February."

Walsh said that student and faculty input will play a major role in choosing new contractors in this final stage of bidding. However, the system of gathering this input has not been formally outlined.

Dining director to be named

Concurrent with the selection of new contractors are the final stages of the Office of Campus Dining director search. Originally, the director was to take office at the beginning of next year. However, that appointment has been somewhat delayed, and interviews with finalists will begin during the first week of Independent Activities Period, Walsh said.

After a nationwide search, an outside consulting company offered a list of fifteen names to the implementation group. From this list, the group will narrow down the candidates to a pool of three to five, Walsh said. Groups of faculty and students will be called to sit in on these interviews.

Since this position has never been filled before at MIT the interviews will also serve to inform the candidates, Walsh said. "You've got to make them understand that this is going to be a unique position."

As the search process for a dining director and contractors continues, the prospect of re-opening previously closed dormitory dining halls and the introduction of residence-based remains a more distant goal.

The dining searches have drawn energy away from dorm dining efforts, Walsh said. "There are so many years of catch up to do,"Walsh said. "One thing we want to avoid is doing too many things and not doing them well," Walsh said.

Student input is critical to the resurrection of dorm dining, Walsh said. "Every residence community needs to have a defined dining program by a group that is a subset of the community," he said.

McCormick dining to be reopened

McCormick Dining Hall is scheduled to re-open by next fall, according to the dining report issued last year.

Dormitories without dining facilities will receive catering from dorms that do, through a pairing system. Ashdown House will be paired with McCormick Dining. Burton-Conner House will be paired up with Baker Dining and MacGregor House will get catering from Next House.

Once these dining programs are fully operational, Lobdell will close in the evenings to support the use of the residence-based dining facilities.

The restructuring, once implemented will be re-evaluated, after two years of operation, Walsh said.