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Executive Director of Dining and Culinary Experiences, Tulane University

Client: Tulane University
Position: Executive Director of Dining and Culinary Experiences
Location: New Orleans, LA

This position oversees Tulane’s Dining Services at all campuses and serves as the primary liaison between all university departments and the third-party dining contractor that manages the program. The executive director is the university’s primary contract manager, working closely with the contractor to provide the campus community with vibrant and progressive dining options that will reflect positively on Tulane’s premiere academic reputation and the rich culinary traditions of New Orleans. Providing high-quality food offerings that meet the diverse needs of the university community is paramount.

Key Functions:

The executive director must serve as an advocate for the institution; its students, faculty, staff, and visitors; and the contractor. Responsibilities include efficient and effective management of the dining program’s varied components and successful collaboration among key departmental stakeholders, including leadership in Student Affairs, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Services, Athletics, Human Resources, and Accounting.

• Collaborate with the dining contractor to prepare the proforma for Dining Services for review and approval by the Associate VP for Campus Operations.

• Institute and manage proper financial and accounting practices and procedures to ensure appropriate fiscal control. Ensure sufficient record keeping, reporting, and audit compliance by the contractor.

• Monitor and review operational reports and provide advice to the contractor’s leadership on improvements or adjustments.

• Analyze financial information in a timely manner to inform decision making.

• Prepare special or periodic reports for the Associate VP for Campus Operations to share with the university’s administration.

• Prepare dining-related RFPs and proforma budgets.

• Evaluate the contractor’s achievement of the operating agreement’s KPIs; determine contractor’s base or incentive fees as required.

Operational Leadership
• Manage the administrative, operational, programmatic, and developmental activities of the Dining Services, which are comprised of residential dining, catering, athletic, and retail venues.

• In active collaboration with the dining contractor, plan, develop, and administer operational policies and procedures, food production standards and methods, menu guidelines, and pricing.

• Monitor, evaluate, and verify that the terms and conditions of the agreement between the university and contractor are met. Determine key performance indicator (KPI) compliance.

• In coordination with the contractor and other key stakeholders, develop the dining program’s strategic initiatives and priorities and advise the Associate VP for Campus Operations on how they should be implemented to align with the university goals and objectives.

• Assist and support the university’s and contractor’s teams in developing and implementing plans for operational improvements, renovations, and new construction to respond to the needs and expectations of faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Oversee dining-related capital projects.

• Supervise the directors who oversee the program’s financial, marketing, operations, and student engagement areas.

• Ensure that Dining Services comply with health and safety, risk management, legal, Title IX, and other institutional or legal requirements and regulations.

• Participate in the analysis of current and future needs and trends related to dining services; adjust programs and operations as needed.

Planning and Communication
• Assist the contractor’s team in the development of innovative projects and strategies using best industry practices to enhance current programs for students and other customers and increase the value, flexibility, responsiveness, convenience, and accessibility of dining products and services.

• Meet with student organizations, student government, faculty and staff councils, conference clients, catering customers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the university’s Dining Services meet or exceed stakeholder expectations.

• Lead a student food advisory committee to gather regular feedback on food quality, menu offerings, operations, customer service, and program innovation.

• Work with the marketing team to manage effective marketing efforts to drive sales and promote the Dining Services. Engage with food industry professional organizations to elevate the department’s national stature, including in campus dining rankings.

• Evaluate the program’s overall effectiveness with the Associate VP for Campus Operations and drive the implementation of organizational changes, policy and procedure revisions, and facility or equipment upgrades necessary to meet customers’ changing needs.

• Attend seminars and conferences to keep up to date on campus dining best practices and develop effective professional networks.

Programmatic Leadership
• Lead the departmental management team and contractor’s leadership in the planning, directing, and administering of innovative programs, policies, and procedures related to sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; student programming and engagement; academic and industry partnerships; and community engagement.


Education & Experience:

Bachelor’s Degree

Seven (7) or more years of experience in management of a comparably complex program, with at least four years in senior management, either at a self-operated or contracted account with comparable program offerings and revenues from board, catering, concession, and retail operations.

Proven ability to think strategically and collaborate effectively with diverse campus stakeholders.


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