NACUFS begins restructuring process

Examination of current structure revealed “critical risks to the organization’s long-term stability.”

The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) has begun the process of restructuring the organization to address serious shortcomings with the way NACUFS is currently set up.

At its business meeting during the 2014 NACUFS Conference in Baltimore last week, members approved a “conceptual” vote to allow the Governance Work Group (GWG) to begin the official process of creating “a more defined model and structure” for the organization. That model, along with any necessary changes to the NACUFS bylaws, will be presented to the membership for approval during the 2015 national conference in Indianapolis.

The vote was the latest step in an intensive process that officially began July 9, 2013, when the NACUFS Strategic Planning Committee met with consultant Michael Gallery to discuss the process and select a committee to review the association’s goals, identify gaps in NACUFS’ structure and create a new structure.

NACUFS President Mark LoParco acknowledged that there were a number of reasons for the need to change, including an organizational chart that was “not aligned with our strategic plan,” and a decrease in membership in the past few years that suggested the organization might not be serving the needs of all of its members.
“As your operations have changed and evolved over the years, so must the organization change and evolve,” he said.

The most troubling indicator of the need for change was a “qualified” audit the association received two years ago. A qualified audit is one in which the auditor discovers practices that do not conform to standard accounting procedures and could harm the organization—in this case, threaten its status as a not-for-profit or open up the group to financial risks. As the strategic planning committee began its review, it identified 21 gaps in governance in four major areas—stability/longevity, roles/responsibilities, supporting strategy and communication—that were negatively affecting NACUFS.

Among the gaps was the fact that NACUFS was basically operating as seven separate entities, six regions with a national office. During a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation, Michael Gallery noted that the regions often operated independent of the national office; for example, signing contracts without any oversight. Gallery also said that the national board often spent time dealing with issues that other organizations leave to office staff.

“The board often focuses on minor items instead of strategic, global issue,” he explained. “The board will no longer do things like approve the national conference logo, set the conference registration price or decide the price of a booth.”

The new structure would create a Board of Trustees that would be the sole voice of the association, effectively disbanding the regional boards that currently exist. It would also strengthen the committee structure by creating six standing committees: Finance, Executive, Nominating, Industry Advisory, and two others to be defined by the GWG.

As proposed, the new board would consist of a chair (currently the NACUFS president), the chair-elect, the immediate past chair, treasurer, industry trustee, guest trustee, eight at-large trustees and the president (currently the executive director, a paid position). The plan would also eliminate the Individual membership category and combine the Associate and Retired categories.

Cam Schauf, director of campus dining services and auxiliary operations at the University of Rochester and chair of the GWG, explained that the restructuring as presented was only a starting point.
“Members will have the opportunity to give their input and suggest changes,” said Schauf. “The governance group will meet in August to take all of those comments and begin work on a final structure.”

He added that members will have to approve the final structure and bylaws before any changes can be enacted, and once approved the organization will implement a five-year transitional plan.

There was very little discussion of the motion to approve the conceptual plan, and no dissent was voiced at the meeting. In fact, the only director who spoke on behalf of his university was Rob Nolen, associate director of Culinary & Hospitality Services at Kennesaw State University. Nolen told the group that if the proposal was not approved, his institution “most likely will pull out of the NACUFS.” 

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