Amid highly positive student reviews, Eastern Michigan University extends contract with dining services partner Chartwells Higher Education

Extension follows highly positive survey feedback from students on new dining features and food options

Amid highly positive student reviews, Eastern Michigan University extends contract with dining services partner Chartwells Higher Education
The first year of EMU's agreement with Chartwells included significant capital investment by Chartwells.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University has extended its contract with its dining services partner, Compass Group North America – Chartwells Higher Education (Chartwells), for an additional five years, to June 30, 2031, a move that signals continued expansion and improvement of EMU’s facilities and its campus dining experience.

The EMU Board of Regents approved the extension at its regular meeting on Friday, Feb. 9. In June 2016, the Regents authorized a 10-year dining services agreement with Chartwells, a partnership that, according to new survey results, led to increased student satisfaction, along with multiple new dining destinations.

The first year of the agreement also included significant capital investment by Chartwells, with the movement and expansion of the Starbucks location in the Student Center. The spacious café features outdoor sidewalk seating, a fire pit and views of the lake house and pond. Chartwells also introduced a variety of other options, including the addition of a Chick-fil-A dining facility in McKenny Hall and a Smashburger in the Student Center.

A 2017 student survey identified strong improvements over pre-Chartwells dining offerings, which were also measured in an earlier survey. The latest survey, administered by the EMU Office of Institutional Research and Information Management (IRIM), identified improved student satisfaction in terms of taste, speed of service, availability of healthy options and price/value.

The survey, to which nearly 60 percent more students responded than in the previous year, also showed that more students are eating in the Student Center than before and that there is greater usage of the Commons residence hall dining area as well.

The University expects to realize an additional $50.8 million over the five-year extension term of the agreement, which includes a additional $5.5 million upfront payment to Eastern.

Key economic features of the June 2016 agreement included:

  • A signing bonus of $5 million to Eastern Michigan University.
  • $18 million in initial capital funds, plus programmatic refresh funds in year four of the agreement.
  • $2.5 million for current graduate assistant scholarships.
  • $712,000 for graduate assistant salaries.

Under the agreement, student workers are being employed for an equal or greater number of hours annually as existed in the University’s previous dining operations. Student employees are paid at a highly competitive wage rate.

Also included in the dining services plan were significant service-related initiatives regarding:

  • The participation of the campus community in terms of providing suggestions and ideas about food options and services, including a survey of students, faculty, and staff at least twice each academic year.
  • Improved use of technology, including mobile apps to check menus and in which immediate feedback can be provided about food services and requests can be made for new products or services and online ordering.
  • New expanded use for students of meal plan “flex dollars” at all Eastern dining locations (except catering, concessions, and vending).
  • Greater involvement with the surrounding community, commitments to sustainable practices and local sourcing of food.
  • The University brought food trucks to campus, delivering the hot culinary trends that students, faculty and staff want. Working with local and respected proprietors in the EMU marketplace, the University developed a food truck rotation.
  • Increased emphasis placed on sustainability, allowing for additional local purchases, recycling and other green waste reduction programs

Eastern Michigan joined a variety of other large Michigan public universities in working with an outside partner to run its dining services. These include Central Michigan, Oakland, Wayne State and Grand Valley State universities. A recent national review found that 74 percent of universities nationwide utilize a third-party to provide food services.

For complete details on EMU’s dining options under Chartwells, please visit the dining services informational website.

About Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services

Chartwells is the recognized leader in contract food service management, hospitality and award-winning guest service within 280 college and university dining environments throughout academic institutions across the U.S. Chartwells’ new brand mantra, “Where Hungry Minds Gather,” signifies its commitment to reinventing the dining experience for the next generation of students and beyond. “Our nutritious cuisine not only satisfies the unique appetites, lifestyles and dietary needs of every guest dining on campus, but it also brings people together to promote the high-intensity relationships that will prepare students for the future,” the company says.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

February 09, 2018

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom