Search looks to fill Dining Services director void, finalists interviewed

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

Three finalists have been interviewed for Director of Dining Services after Richard Fritz, former director, left to take a similar position at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
The candidates are Gail Abrams Aungst, Brian Schneider and Paula Amols.
Mike Young, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said that Fritz took the job to be closer to family.
Once the move was announced, Murray State faculty and staff began the search to find a replacement for the position.
“We formed a hiring committee based on constituents, people who were in contact with (Fritz),” Young said. “This includes Food Service Committee, people in our food industry, auxiliary services, the International Student Office and the Multicultural Office.”
According to Young, the job was listed on national search websites and in national publications as well as similar industry websites and The Paducah Sun.
Alex Green, lectures chair for the Campus Activities Board for SGA, is part of the committee search for a replacement director.
“My involvement with Dining Services goes back to 2009-2010 when I was a senator and served on the Dining Services Committee,” Green said. “Because I am a studying nutrition with an emphasis in food management I stayed on the committee as just a student representative and less as a student government member.”
Both Green and Young expressed specific qualities the committee is looking for in applicants for the job.  Strong leadership skills, budgeting skills, a student-oriented mind set, positivity and long-term planning skills are just a few requirements for the director’s job.
The minimum requirements listed on the NACUFS (The National Association of College and University Food Services) website indicate Murray State is looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in food management, nutrition or related field and a minimum five years progressive experience in planning and directing a comprehensive dining service program on a college/university campus.
“An understanding of the industry and someone who can provide a unique dining experience is crucial,” Young said.
Green said choosing the new director is a difficult task.
“We narrowed it down to three candidates that we have invited to campus for a visit and an interview,” Green said. “The more strenuous work is ahead of us.”
Abrams-Aungst of La Marque, Texas, visited Aug. 23 and 24 for an extensive tour and interview for the job.  Abrams-Aungst is currently the Director of Dining at Texas A&M University at Galveston and previously held assistant dining positions at University of Michigan, Brockville Psychiatric Hospital in Brockville, Ontario., and for a time was self-employed. Abrams-Aungst graduated with a master’s degree in business administration in human resource management and dispute resolution in 2009 and 2010.
Schneider of DeKalb, Ill., visited Aug. 29 and 30 for the same tour. Schneider has a bachelor of arts in psychology and is currently the acting assistant director of dining at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.  Schneider also has held the title of food service administrator II in the NIU Bakery, assistant dining director at Eastern Illinois University and food service administrator II at NIU.
Amols, visited yesterday and today for the final tour of applicants.  Amols is currently the assistant director/project manager of dining life at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Previous positions include general manager/coordinator and publicist for Cornell Dining and Campus Life and supervisor/operations manager/vending manager for Cornell University. Amols graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s of science in animal science in 1975.
In Fritz’s absence, Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, has assumed responsibilities and delegated to appropriate heads of operation until hiring is complete.
Young said the position should be filled this semester but that hiring is negotiable and could be delayed until January should a candidate not make it through the interview process.
“Our hope is that one of those candidates will surface as the person to hire and replace Mr. Fritz, and will keep us on the same path that he had us moving in,” Robertson said.  “It impacts so many people at the University that it’s important that we hire the right person.”
Robertson said the search committee will meet early next week to compare notes and call references to determine viability of the candidates.
Said Robertson:  “All three have an extensive experience in dining operations.”
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