Univ. offers jobs to ex-Aramark workers

Yale moved one step closer to running its own dining system Wednesday for the first time in almost 10 years.

Marking another stage in the transition from Aramark Food Services, Yale University Dining Services officials extended offers of employment to 20 of the 34 Aramark unit managers currently working at Yale. University officials said if the transition goes smoothly, students should notice no difference between dining operation under Aramark unit managers and managers working for YUDS.

Silliman College dining hall employees prepare dinner Wednesday night. Remaining Aramark dining hall employees’ contracts with the University will expire at the end of February.
Aileen Agricola
Silliman College dining hall employees prepare dinner Wednesday night. Remaining Aramark dining hall employees’ contracts with the University will expire at the end of February.

The University decided in June that it will not renew its contract with Aramark after the final month-long contract expires at the end of February 2008.

University officials declined to comment on the specifics of the hiring process, citing personnel concerns. Aramark officials declined to comment for this article.

Unit managers oversee the day-to-day operations of all of the University’s dining halls — including those in the residential colleges — and retail facilities such as the Law School dining hall, dining officials said Wednesday.

Unit managers order food, review employee performance and make sure that each day’s menu items are prepared on time for students to eat. Each dining facility at Yale has at least one unit manager, and some of the larger facilities have three or four.

University officials said they terminated the long-term contract with Aramark because they think Yale has the ability to take on the responsibilities of the Philadelphia-based food services provider itself. In order to ease the transition between the two food service systems, the University signed a series of month-to-month contracts with Aramark.

Yale organized the six-month transition period primarily so that it would be able to hire Aramark managers. The long-term contract required the University to wait three months before extending offers of employment to Aramark unit managers. In another three months, the University will be able to hire senior management involved in administering Yale’s dining operations.

University officials emphasized that the switch would not affect the quality or atmosphere of the dining halls.

“The menus aren’t changing, the vendors aren’t changing, the standards aren’t changing,” YUDS spokeswoman Karen Dougherty said. “Most students might just see a new face in their dining hall as the Aramark employee who was there moves on.”

Just how many new faces there will be is not something Yale administrators said they are willing to discuss at this point, nor are the specifics of the contracts under which these managers will be hired.

But Associate Vice President for Adminstrative and Financial Services Ernest Huff said the University has a vested interest in retaining veterans of Yale’s dining system. The University’s decentralized dining system — which includes 16 dining halls — is different from that of all other universities except Harvard, he said.

Unit managers, too, have a reason to stay, Huff said. Although the unit managers said they were restricted from speaking to reporters, Huff said many of them have put down roots in the New Haven area and would like to stay. Because Aramark has no other local contracts, those individuals would likely have to relocate if they chose not to accept a YUDS job.

Aramark joined up with the University in 1998 after it became clear that the University could not manage its sprawling dining infrastructure amid the concerns of running an academic institution.

Aramark officials introduced financial benchmarks for each dining hall, taking over the hiring process for new dining hall managers as part of a larger financial overhaul of YUDS.

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