Regenia Phillips is preparing herself for a culture shock.
Yale Dining Services announced this week that Phillips, currently the director of dining services at the University of Northern Texas, will take over as director of residential dining from interim director Chuck Bennett this January. Phillips’s arrival comes as the University dining services completes its transition away from food contractor Aramark — whose contract with Yale was not renewed at the beginning of 2008 — and toward an in-house model.
“Your program is just coming off the contract with Aramark, and having worked for a contract, there is so much that can come to the table from a self-operated group,” Phillips said in an interview Monday.
Yale Dining Executive Director Rafi Taherian said Phillips’ greatest task will be meeting the varied demands of Yale’s students.
The issues of take-out containers and late-night dining options — both of which are championed by the Yale College Council — are two of the most important ones Phillips will take on, Taherian said.
YCC Vice President Emily Schofield ’09 said that those two issues, as well as more varied meal plan options, were students’ top priorities on a survey taken last spring. She said she has already discussed these issues with Taherian.
“I’m just excited to have another person on board to help take a serious look at those three things,” Schofield said.
The director of residential dining manages the operations of Yale’s residential dining program, including oversight of the 12 residential colleges, the Hall of Graduate Studies dining hall and Commons. The job description includes coordinating management between all 14 dining halls, training staff members, dealing with food vendors and maintaining environmental sustainability initiatives.
Interim director Bennett said Phillips will be taking on an initially daunting job.
“[The job] is satisfying 6,500 hungry Yalies,” Bennett said. “It is a pretty all-encompassing position. I’ve been here almost four years, but I can tell you how confusing this place was for the first six months I was here.”
Phillips, described by Taherian as a “high-profile candidate” within the food service industry, has spent over 29 years in the industry, the last nine of which she spent serving as director of dining at UNT.
While at UNT, she became well-known in the industry, particularly for introducing the Mean Greens café, a healthy dining facility which gained the Health Management Magazine’s 2007 “Best Concept” award in the wellness initiative category.
Phillips will start her duties at Yale on Jan. 5.