Nona Golledge: Seeking Opportunities

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” These words, first spoken by Winston Churchill, have guided Nona Golledge, director of KU Dining Services at 30,000-student University of Kansas in Lawrence, during her five years as director. Through mergers, budget cuts and culture change, Golledge has used her team-oriented philosophy to revolutionize the university’s foodservice. These efforts were recently applauded in the university community when Golledge was named one of the 2009 KU Women of Distinction.

“I always tell people that Nona is probably the most ‘politically correct’ person I know,” says Alecia Stultz, assistant director of retail. “She shows the ultimate in ‘KU Dining Calm.’ Her open-door policy extends to all and I know that it makes a difference with the staff.”

Advance, not retreat: During Golledge’s first year as director, it was imperative that she get her team on the same page regarding her vision, because Golledge was responsible for managing the merging of residential and retail dining into one unit.

“We took two completely separate, but both equally fantastic, teams and merged them into one,” Golledge says. “That was a bit of a challenge because everyone was still operating under the way they used to do it. So I knew that we had to somehow figure out a way to get a more cohesive team. We did that through a lot of communication and keeping the staff informed from start to finish.”

Golledge says a turning point in the process came when she decided to hold one of her “advances.” Advances are what Golledge calls her staff retreats—“we don’t retreat, we advance,” she says.

“We spent several hours together in a room and we just wiped the slate clean,” Golledge says. “We tried to get everyone to forget everything they knew from the past, and we developed our own strategic plan. I think when everyone left that room, everybody felt like, ‘Wow, this is going to be good.’”

FoodService Director - FSD of the Month - Nona GolledgeGolledge says the advances—she holds one every year—are demonstrative of her preferred leadership style.

“My style of leadership is that it is a team effort,” Golledge says. “I like to get everybody involved. I value people’s expertise and want their input, so it felt like this was everyone’s plan. When members of my team make decisions, they make those based on the same goals.”

The merger wasn’t just good for team morale; it encouraged significant growth in every area of dining—retail sales by 36%, catering by 31% and residential dining by 11%.

“Nona was instrumental in merging [those two departments], and she did so in a very gentle and effective fashion because those mergers can turn into a bloodbath,” says David Mucci, director of KU Memorial Unions. “Our situation was a little different because we had to meld a state operation with an affiliated corporation on the retail side, so it was apples to oranges.”

Sustainability: Another huge area of growth that Golledge has fostered has been sustainability. During Golledge’s time as director, the department has been chipping away at the sustainability checklist—implementing trayless dining, starting a rooftop herb garden, switching to biodegradable disposables, collecting used cooking oil for conversion, increasing use of locally grown foods and more.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to beef up its presence in sports arenas and a variety of other large venues, Sodexo will acquire foodservice vendor Centerplate for $675 million.

Sodexo says the deal, which is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will more than double its global footprint.

Centerplate, which serves as the foodservice operator for a number for stadiums, convention halls and other event spaces, brought in revenues of $998 million for the year ending June 2017, according to Sodexo. Centerplate was purchased five years ago by Olympus Partners, a private-equity company...

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

FSD Resources