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New HDS Head Speaks on Reforms

By Laura E. Rosenbaum

Ted A. Mayer, the incoming director of Harvard Dining Services (HDS), spoke to the Undergraduate Council about HDS reforms last night.

Possible changes include altering meal hours and expanding the services offered to students, according to Mayer.

However, while Mayer said he is willing to investigate students' concerns, he said he cannot make any promises.

"I'm not going to commit to anything," he said. "I haven't even started the job yet."

Mayer, who comes to Harvard after working for dining services at Middlebury College for more than nine years, said staff training, mastering the HDS' finances and getting to know the students are his top priorities.

Mayer will replace Acting Director of HDS Leonard D. Condenzio on June 1.

A number of issues regarding meal plans will have to be addressed before changes can be implemented, Mayer said.

"[The question is] how do we deal with the preservation of the house system which serves three squares a day, seven days a week...and the reality that students' lives are very different than they were in the 1920's," he said.

The importance some administrators place on the house system and tradition may also interfere with meeting student suggestions for reform, Mayer said.

"Most people think of the residential system here as quite wonderful, so any changes we make, we have to make slowly," he said.

Council members greeted Mayer with enthusiastic applause and offered both support and criticism for current dining services.

Students commended the dining staff and management in Adams, Cabot, Pforzheimer, Eliot and other houses.

"I don't know the staff very well, but Vicki the checker woman is cool," said one Lowell House representative.

Mayer said he would look into improving food options for students, including lowering fat and oil content where possible. He also said he wants to ensure that students are satisfied with meal options.

"It's fairly easy to tell if a dish is unpopular, particularly if you make 30 pans and have 29 left over," Mayer said.

Yet flexibility is limited when cooking in an institutional setting, and implementing recipe changes is harder than it may seem.

"Cooking for large quantities requires a different style of cooking," Mayer said.

Mayer said he will meet with Dining Services staff today to discuss training issues and said he wants to utilize the expertise of various HDS staff members.

"One top priority is the training issue, to make sure we continue to move forward," Mayer said.

He also said that he wants to see the staff interacting with students to "see what's going on and hear students' perspectives."

Mayer ate in the Quincy House dining hall on a previous visit and plans to eat in the dining halls during his visit today as well as regularly during his tenure as director of HDS.

In other business, the council unanimously passed a resolution last night to increase support for student group leaders.

The bill will create a "network of experienced student group leaders to offer informational advising to new student group leaders."

Stephen E. Weinberg '99, who authored the bill, said the legislation had the potential to strengthen student groups.

"It will be a really good thing for us to do, a really cheap thing, and hopefully it will be a very effective thing for us to do," Weinberg said

The importance some administrators place on the house system and tradition may also interfere with meeting student suggestions for reform, Mayer said.

"Most people think of the residential system here as quite wonderful, so any changes we make, we have to make slowly," he said.

Council members greeted Mayer with enthusiastic applause and offered both support and criticism for current dining services.

Students commended the dining staff and management in Adams, Cabot, Pforzheimer, Eliot and other houses.

"I don't know the staff very well, but Vicki the checker woman is cool," said one Lowell House representative.

Mayer said he would look into improving food options for students, including lowering fat and oil content where possible. He also said he wants to ensure that students are satisfied with meal options.

"It's fairly easy to tell if a dish is unpopular, particularly if you make 30 pans and have 29 left over," Mayer said.

Yet flexibility is limited when cooking in an institutional setting, and implementing recipe changes is harder than it may seem.

"Cooking for large quantities requires a different style of cooking," Mayer said.

Mayer said he will meet with Dining Services staff today to discuss training issues and said he wants to utilize the expertise of various HDS staff members.

"One top priority is the training issue, to make sure we continue to move forward," Mayer said.

He also said that he wants to see the staff interacting with students to "see what's going on and hear students' perspectives."

Mayer ate in the Quincy House dining hall on a previous visit and plans to eat in the dining halls during his visit today as well as regularly during his tenure as director of HDS.

In other business, the council unanimously passed a resolution last night to increase support for student group leaders.

The bill will create a "network of experienced student group leaders to offer informational advising to new student group leaders."

Stephen E. Weinberg '99, who authored the bill, said the legislation had the potential to strengthen student groups.

"It will be a really good thing for us to do, a really cheap thing, and hopefully it will be a very effective thing for us to do," Weinberg said

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