Luther announces partnership with Sodexo, Inc. to manage dining services

June 19, 2009

Luther College President Richard Torgerson has announced a change of management in the college's dining services operations. Since June 8, Luther Dining Services is being managed by Sodexo, Inc., a leading provider of integrated food management services in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

President Torgerson announced the change June 4-5 to college faculty, staff and students. He met with the campus community in two open forums June 5 to answer questions about the change and its effects on the operation of dining services.

President Torgerson said the change is necessary because, in this time of economic challenge and intense competition, Luther must find ways to enhance the total student experience on campus. Luther administration has evaluated and discussed the direction and focus of the colleges dining services program and ways to strengthen its innovation and excellence.

President Torgerson said a fundamental characteristic of Luther, a traditional four-year liberal arts college, is its vibrant residential community, and a dynamic and engaging dining services facility is an essential component.

"Sodexo comes to Luther with a deep commitment to people and service," President Torgerson said. "We have been impressed with their tremendous reputation among colleges and universities for customer service, delicious food, and programs that engage students. Sodexo will help us build on the strong sense of community that is core to Luther."

President Torgerson said the dedicated and courteous work of dining services staff in the cafeteria, Marty's, Oneota Market, Sunnyside Coffee Shop, and at special events across campus has been a hallmark of the college. He said he is confident staff will continue that quality of committed service under the new management team.

"One of Sodexo's stated goals is to have a positive impact in the communities in which they serve," said President Torgerson. "Sodexo's corporate citizenship record matches Luther's commitment to diversity, sustainability, and wellness."

Other goals and initiatives of dining services will also continue, including the commitment to buy locally produced foods. The college is pursuing a goal of 35 percent for its buy-local program. Sodexo is committed to being a partner in helping Luther achieve this goal and other initiatives related to environmental sustainability, including waste reduction and energy conservation.

In health and wellness initiatives, Sodexo is the industry leader in meeting the varied needs of students. From vegan and vegetarian meals to fresh and seasonal ingredients, Sodexo has a well-known reputation for the quality and flavor of the food served.

Luther's dining services partnership with Sodexo is being developed with the assistance of Jeff Paulson, a 1981 Luther graduate who is a senior vice president with Sodexo. Luther's selection of Sodexo was based in part on Paulson's understanding of the college's distinctive campus culture and traditions and his personal commitment to the quality of Luther Dining Services.

"After considering several options we selected Sodexo to be Luther College's food service partner because they are a strong leader in college food service operations in Iowa and across the nation," said President Torgerson. "This has not been an easy decision but I believe it is the right decision for the college as we look to the future."

For dining services employees, Sodexo will provide expanded training and development opportunities, all of which will focus on providing an enhanced dining experience for the Luther campus community. Sodexo also understands and affirms Luthers student-work program and will continue to support student employment, including offering expanded career opportunities for student managers in the future.

In the key area of diversity, Sodexo has a commitment to diversity training, employee engagement programs, mentoring networks, and work-life programs. Diversity Inc consistently names Sodexo one of the top 10 companies for diversity and inclusion programs.

Although current dining services staff will remain Luther College employees during the transition, the one staffing change that will be made is in the position of general manager. Warren Palm, director of dining services, will no longer head the colleges food services.

Jerry Dohr will serve as interim general manager for the next few months, and Sodexo and Luther College will jointly select a permanent general manager later this summer. At some future time employees will have the opportunity to choose between remaining a Luther employee or joining Sodexo.

Over the next two months, Luther students on or near campus will be asked to share ideas about dining experiences with dining services personnel. The college will seek ideas and comments from the entire Luther community in the fall.

More information about Sodexo is available at its web site: