Campus News

UK Committee Recommends Moving Forward With RFPs on Dining Services Operation

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2013) ― With the goal of building the "best possible" program, a University of Kentucky committee reviewing how to transform dining at the university during this period of housing expansion has recommended moving forward with requests for proposals (RFPs) from potential business partners.

"The goal ― no matter what course is ultimately taken ― is to build the best possible dining services operation for our students, faculty, staff and visitors," Eric N. Monday, UK's executive vice president for finance and administration, wrote in an email to dining services employees. "Fully exploring how a partnership with a third party would make such an operation a reality is the responsible course to take."

More information about the dining recommendations, put forward by the Dining Revitalization Committee and the Dining RFI Taskforce, and the process can be read at

The committee ― with representation from UK faculty, staff and the student body ― made recommendations that include RFP criteria commitments in response to concerns and questions raised by students, university and local community groups interested in sustainability and other issues. The commitments include:

  • Ensuring that current full-time UK dining employees will have employment opportunities with either the university or the selected business partner, if the university administration and the Board of Trustees ultimately take that path. The university will also require that student workers continue to be employed.
  • Continuing a strong sustainability program by purchasing local food produce and the strong partnership UK has with the Kentucky Proud Program.
  • Expanding options, healthier food choices and responsiveness to the many constituencies that comprise the university community.

Monday said that between now and 2015 three dining facilities across campus will be de-commissioned as part of the revitalization of the university's residence hall system. UK hopes to build up to 9,000 residence hall beds over the next five to seven years as part of a dramatic transformation of its campus core.  Improvements and expansion of the Student Center are also necessary as enrollment increases.

"As it is with residence halls, significant and dramatic upgrades in dining facilities will require significant resources and investment. A business partner willing to infuse tens of millions of dollars into our dining infrastructure has to be examined," Monday said. "Such an examination ― one that addresses our significant capital needs but also the thoughtful concerns and questions ― is the only responsible course to take.  A business partner also offers the potential to expand food options and choices for students, faculty and staff, an increasing need as the campus continues to grow.”

Monday said against that backdrop it's important that UK find a solution that works best for the university and the varied constituencies served by the institution. That can only happen, he said, with a process that is open to exploring what's possible with a business partner. If the university administration recommends any change in current operations, it would be taken to the UK Board of Trustees for its approval.