Senators discuss need for new faculty-only campus dining hall

Senior News Reporter

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Jones Dining Hall renovations may include a faculty and staff dining area.

Administrators are looking into possible locations for a dining space exclusive to faculty members in response to concerns raised by the Faculty Senate.

In previous years, faculty members frequented University Club in Commons Dining Hall, but it has since been removed due to expansion of the Testing, Research Support & Evaluation Center and other renovations. However, there is currently no space on campus reserved for faculty dining.

Faculty members would enjoy a dining hall where they can eat with “cloth napkins” and “real plates,” said Rebecca Bell-Metereau, English senator.

According to a Sept. 2, 2010 University Star article, Lyndon’s U Club was planned and modeled as the predecessor to the former University Club. Unlike University Club, Lyndon’s was not faculty-exclusive and was relocated to the bottom floor of the LBJ Student Center. The sit-down restaurant, which did not accept meal trades, was plagued by low sales and was later replaced by Au Bon Pain.

President Denise Trauth addressed the need for a faculty dining space at the Feb. 5 Faculty Senate meeting.

 “We tried with Lyndon’s (U Club), and for whatever reasons, it didn’t work,” Trauth said. “My sense is that the biggest driver was the cost of the food. Maybe location was an issue, but the biggest driver was the cost of food.”

Finding a room adjacent to an existing eatery would be a quick solution to the problem, Trauth said.

Theodore Hindson, political science senator, said a portion of Jones Dining Hall could be turned into a faculty-only space since it is currently undergoing renovations.

John Root, director of Auxiliary Services, said there is currently no definite location or set budget for a faculty dining hall.

 “All of our current locations can be potential areas for the faculty dining hall,” Root said.

Debra Feakes, biochemistry and chemistry senator, echoed the need for the space, saying it is “increasingly difficult” when faculty have to leave campus to interview or have lunch with teaching candidates.

“Do you really want to bring (candidates) to a student cafeteria?” said Michel Conroy, faculty senate chair.

Root said the current plan is for faculty to be able to buy their food from existing dining halls and take it to a quiet area designated for them, unlike previous arrangements that had entire dining halls dedicated to faculty use.

Harris Dining Hall has the capacity to add a space specifically for faculty but it is located too far out in West Campus, Root said.

Plans could be complete in three years if faculty and administrators decide upon a space and design, Root said.

“As this university grows, I think having a faculty club (dining hall) would be a great thing,” Trauth said.