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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

D-Hall searches for new director of dining services

Students grab grub during the lunch rush. Photo by Reina Shahi.
Clara Larson


Since Dick Williams retired from his position as director of Dining Services at Grinnell College in the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, the College has searched for a new dining director. According to Quinn Ercolani ’20, a student member of the Dining Committee that has participated in the search, executive chef Scott Turley and Associate Director of Dining Jeannette Moser hold duties of the director as a team while the search continues. 

Ercolani said that currently the search has narrowed down to Moser and two other candidates who currently hold the positions of director of Dining Services and director of residential dining at two other schools in the United States. John Kalkbrenner, assistant vice president for auxiliary services and economic development and chair of the search committee, wrote in an email to The S&B that he “hope[s] that [the Committee] will have a decision by spring break.”

Ercolani believes that the position of director of Dining Services impacts student life, because the directors “coordinate, functionally, everything that goes on in dinning services, so they have a hand in making sure the menu is what it is.” But the effects for student Dining Services employees reach far beyond menu offerings: Ercolani said that the director of Dining Services “is directly involved in the contract negotiation sessions. They are one of the people sitting across the table from the union.” 

Ercolani said that not only was SGA Vice President of Student Affairs Kahlil Epps ’18 part of the Search Committee, but that “there was … a student panel that was in on some of the interviews.” Ercolani said that “the students on the committee were given materials by John Kalkbrenner to submit our impressions of the candidates to him so that way when the search committee makes a decision they have our impressions on record.” 

One priority for both students and administrators is that the new director is committed to using and supporting local foods. Ercolani said that the students on the panel would like a Director with a “focus on local food developments,” and Kalkbrenner wrote that the College values candidates with “an interest in providing locally grown foods, as the director must know how to source local foods and work closely with campus groups interested in this issue.”

The inclusion of local foods in the dining hall has already begun. In fall 2017, The S&B wrote a story about the Grinnell College Garden, which a group of volunteers from the student body, faculty and greater community created to provide fresh food to the dining hall and Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. (MICA).  

Both students and administration are also interested in choosing a candidate who will be able to maintain a strong rapport with the student body. 

“Of course, the director has to be able to work closely with students,” Kalkbrenner wrote. “The student Dining Hall is by far the largest and most important part of Dining Services. Working collaboratively with our student customers is essential.”

Student Dining Hall employees, however, may be looking for something else in a director of Dining Services. 

“I would like someone who’s cheerful and uplifting and brings a positive attitude to Grinnell Dining Services,” said a student employee who wished remain anonymous. “There’s a difference between leading people and telling them what to do.” The S&B also reached out to several non-student employees of Dining Services, who preferred to not be interviewed on the subject. 

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