By Richard Zagrzecki
Over the next two months, a national consulting firm will take a close look at the University of Houston’s campus dining program.
Porter Khouw Consulting (PKC) is a nationally recognized food-service planning and design firm based in Crofton, Maryland. The firm, which specializes in the higher education market, has completed a wide variety of master planning and design projects on college and university campuses across North America. The PKC team arrived at UH the week of Sept. 26 to begin its thorough review.
“Every college campus has its own unique demographics and characteristics, and so the consulting firm will help us get a better understanding of how we can continue to grow and improve our food program to better meet the needs of our customers,” said Dr. Emily Messa, associate vice chancellor/associate vice president for Administration.
Between now and the end of November, Porter Khouw Consulting will hold focus groups, conduct interviews and evaluate an abundance of data.
“We are looking forward to learning as much as we can about the University of Houston, its campus community and their dining habits and preferences so that we can provide innovative recommendations that will help further enhance the University’s campus dining program, and to identify ways the dining program can help strengthen social engagement on campus,” said PKC Vice President Carolyn Watkins.
The food service program at UH, which continues to expand as the campus population grows, includes 37 dining locations and 375 employees. In the past year alone, 3.4 million dining transactions took place. Last month, UH’s food service program was ranked 49th among all colleges in the country by The Daily Meal, a national online publication. It marked the third straight year UH was ranked.
“The consulting firm’s work will help us identify key performance indicators to let us continue to improve our service and build on our great ranking in The Daily Meal,” Messa said.
In addition to the work the consulting firm will be undertaking, UH Dining – operated by campus partner Aramark – will be launching Market Match. This comprehensive analysis of the food service operations will involve focus groups, surveys and interviews with students, staff, faculty and University officials.
Both of these efforts are part of a larger initiative being undertaken by the Administration & Finance Division to evaluate and assess various programs and services offered to the campus community. That effort will be boosted by the recent hiring of a manager of service assessment and evaluation.
“Soon, we will be looking at Parking and Transportation, Printing and Postal Services, and a number of other key services in much the same way we are reviewing our dining program,” Messa said.