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May 13, 2005

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell University announced that it has selected Parkhurst Dining Services of Pittsburgh to provide student dining and catering services beginning in July.

In announcing the five-year contract, David Surgala, vice president of finance and administration, said the family-owned business "brings a wonderful reputation for premium food quality, student meal plan program innovation, excellent customer service, and strong employee relations to our campus."

The vendor selection follows a nine-month review process in which the selection committee specified four goals: improve student dining, preserve meal plan pricing, create one dining organization, and have a sound financial plan.

"We met and exceeded those goals. Designing a student-centered, best-of-class dining program took a great deal of time and effort," said Surgala. "Additional time was needed to make certain that the university's expectations for a smooth transition for staff jobs, wages and benefits were met."

Planned innovations in student meal programs feature "anytime access" as well as extended hours at Bostwick Dining Room and a 24-hour 7th Street Café, in addition to a wide variety of menu offerings including new cook-to-order, organic, vegan, and locally grown items.

"When students return in the fall, we expect to have a new wood-fired pizza oven and new menu offerings in the Bison," said Surgala. "There also will be a new look and menu at the Terrace Room."

Parkhurst Dining Services serves higher education institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, cultural organizations such as the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, and corporations such as Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Camp Hill, Pa. Parkhurst is a division of Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, which was founded in 1949.

"Along with addressing student needs, one of our aims was to address the concerns of our dining service staff about the transition," said Dennis Swank, associate vice president of finance. "We discovered that vendors are surprised that many of our dining staff have been on campus 15 to 20 years, or longer, when the industry average is much shorter. We're proud that we have people who are second- and third-generation dining service staff."

Under the new contract, current jobs and pay rates, including wage adjustments planned for this July, will transfer to Parkhurst. The new vendor will offer a similar health-care program at similar cost. Comparable vacation, sick time, and other benefits will continue, as well as certain retirement benefits for a "grandparented" group of Bucknell staff.


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