Baylor works towards better dining

The newest place to eat on campus is East Village Dining Hall on Bagby Avenue and South Second Street. Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
The newest place to eat on campus is East Village Dining Hall on Bagby Avenue and South Second Street.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
Maleesa Johnson
Staff Writer

The future closure of Collins Dining Hall is part of a greater plan to improve dining experiences on Baylor campus.

“Collins is closing because it allows us to better manage the rising costs associated with providing high-quality dining on campus,” said Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life.

Recently, Baylor submitted a Request for Proposal, or RFPs, to dining vendors.

These proposals as defined on Baylor’s Purchasing Office website are documents issued to prospective bidders requesting a “best solution” based on specifications and a defined scope of work.

In this case, RFPs went out to dining services. Baylor’s current dining service, Aramark, received a proposal as well.

Upon turning in a proposal, the vendors are reviewed by a committee made up of students and staff.

This committee ranks each proposal and narrows down the selection.

“We had great vendor interest in serving the university,” said Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications. “At this point in the process we have two finalists: Compass and Aramark. We hope to have the selection process completed by this fall so we will have ample time to work on contracts before the end of next spring.”

The top-ranked proposals all came to the same conclusion: Baylor does not have a big enough campus to operate five dining halls.

Jackson said the highest-ranked proposals all said Baylor cannot support cost of five dining halls without driving up costs.

There are multiple factors that are in included in the cost operating a dining hall.

These include staff labor, food, utilities and keeping equipment operational and current.

“Operating four dining halls on our campus is the best way of moving forward,” Jackson said. “We really have two goals from this. The first goal is to provide high quality dining on campus while at the same time managing the primary factors that impact the cost of meal plans.”

Information from the RFP concluded that four dining halls will meet and exceed these goals.

This does not mean that the cost of meal plans will go down.

Jackson said any estimate of future meal plan prices decrease is speculation at this point.

Also included in the RFP was the potential renovation of current dining halls.

Jackson said once a company is selected, they will gather student input and work with an architect on updating both Memorial and Penland dining halls.

The process of designing East Village Dining Commons before it opened included looking at other universities’ dining halls and gathering input from students.

The process for renovation will be similar.

“We’ll take what we learned from East Village,” Jackson said. “We’ll take what we know from the dining company we’re working with and then we’ll hear from our students and other faculty and staff and then we’ll take that information and we’ll build it into the renovation for Penland and Memorial.”

The future empty space made from closing Collins Dining Hall will undergo a similar process.

Jackson said he has heard from students that Collins has very little space for socializing, studying or holding meetings.

This and other student responses will be taken into consideration.

“We’re very open, we want good strong student feedback on how that space should be utilized,” Jackson said.