Yale Dining is currently undergoing important changes in management, including the creation of two new roles and the departure of one key figure.
The team is currently looking to hire its first communications staffer to more effectively spread its message. Further, former Yale Dining Director of Finance and Business Administration Howard Bobb has ended his eight-year tenure for personal reasons this year.
Dining workers interviewed all praised Bobb for his dedication and approachability. Director of Culinary Excellence Ron DeSantis said he believes Bobb will be greatly missed among the dining staff.
“Howard Bobb is a wonderful man,” DeSantis said. “He is a person who loves the food business and participated in ways to make our organization the best in the country.”
Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke SOM ’86 said Bobb had many responsibilities, both within Yale Dining and Student Financial and Administrative Services. She added that he worked closely with Dana Courtney — then on the finance team at ITS — who will replace him this year.
Courtney declined to comment on her appointment, but Van Dyke said Courtney is already is familiar with Yale Dining’s finances, making her a natural choice for the position.
Silliman Chef Stu Comen said he found Bobb to be very approachable, and he hopes Courtney will be able to relate to coworkers as well as Bobb did.
“Over the past year, Howard would come around a lot to ask about menus and foods — and we could ask him questions about anything financial,” Comen said. “I’m hoping Dana [Courtney], once she gets used to us, will be the same way. The dining hall staff has so many years of experience, and we’re not afraid to talk — so ask us questions.”
Prior to the creation of a communications position, Van Dyke said, Yale Dining’s marketing and communications duties had been divided among the rest of the staff. Until this year, she said, there were not enough funds to create a new position dedicated to these responsibilities. Further, the popular conception was that such a position is unnecessary for Yale Dining.
“People don’t think of Yale Dining as needing communications, but our involvement in food policy and our responsibility to the community is real,” she said.
Van Dyke added that Yale Dining often opts for progressive food policies of which few are aware. The University of Massachusetts recently garnered praise for announcing it would exclusively use antibiotic-free meat, she said, but Yale Dining adopted a similar policy six years ago. A communications staff member would help make sure that is known, she said.
Comen said he supports the hiring of a communications staff member, citing the recently unveiled and unadvertised hot dog bar, which enables students to make their own hot dogs, as an example.
“The hot dog bar last week shows students don’t know what’s going on half the time,” he said. “We should have had signs saying what would be offered, come and get it, this is what it will be, so by Friday you already knew and were excited about it.”
He added that students should know more about special offerings and the components of those offerings, from nitrate-free products to local produce.
Five out of six interviewed said increased communication between Yale Dining and the student body would benefit both parties.
Ferra Pinnock ’17 said the communications staff member should work to provide more information on the composition of dishes.
“I think that would be very helpful for students,” she said. “I know some people are very conscientious about what they’re eating and curious about what Yale Dining has to offer.”