2012 Silver Plate—Giving back to the Industry

Mary Molt uses the lessons learned from her mentors as the basis for the time she gives to NACUFS.

In her 35 years of involvement with NACUFS, Mary Molt, assistant director for housing and dining services at Kansas State University in Manhattan, has held nearly 20 positions, including national treasurer. She says that what people in NACUFS taught her over the years have given her the desire to do the same for others.

“The most joy I get from participating in NACUFS today is seeing some of these young people be leaders in the organization. It seems like only yesterday that I was one of those people. Looking back on it, I am amazed at the things I was allowed to do in the organization at such a young age. Seeing today those young people leading the organization gives me that feeling of, ‘yeah, this is what NACUFS is all about.’

I was selected to help write the professional standards manual, what is now called professional practices. That was a huge project, and I got to be part of it. I worked with Doug Ritchie and Don Jacobs and Norm Hill on that project. In the process I learned from them and was helped by them, and it is because of what they were able to teach me that I’ve been able to give back and to help NACUFS.

And I’ve been able to feed off some of those younger people, some of whom were actually my students at K-State. They are people like [current NACUFS president] Nona Golledge at Kansas, Sheryl Kidwell, who works with Nona, and Steve Simpson, who is Juliane Keihn’s second in command at Missouri.

Sometimes it’s in working and traveling with colleagues that have given me some of my biggest lessons. A part of the NACUFS Professional Standards program we would make site visits to universities. I was on one professional standards review with Wells Cloward, who at the time was the foodservice director at BYU. We were at Michigan State. I remember him saying this, “The food was the very best that it could be the moment that it was produced, at peak quality just after it was cooked. That was the very best that that food could be. Over time it only deteriorates. Our job is to capture those moments between the peak quality and when the students eat it.” It’s hard in some of our facilities to capture those minutes the way we would like to. Improving that rate of capture is a goal of mine, and it’s because of what Wells Cloward said many years ago."