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MSU uses dining halls as recruiting tool

July 24, 2013

It’s a never ending struggle; an arms race. Those with the biggest and most to offer compete for the best and the brightest.

Schools are looking to attract the most talented students high schools have to offer, and to compete, schools are constantly looking for new angles and ways to bring students on-campus.

“We do everything we can to connect students to academic and non-academic interests on-campus,” said John Ambrose, associate director for inclusion and strategic planning at the Office of Admissions.

Ambrose added that MSU works with alumni from across the country to play host to potential future students. Once they are on-campus visiting, MSU also coordinates with various student organizations at times who have pre-college programs, such as summer camps, and then exposes those participants to MSU, and Brody Square in particular.

Food is a unique, often overlooked feature of schools, and “dorm food” sometimes gets a bad reputation. However, MSU takes pride in the on-campus dining, and works hard to continuously improve and evolve the eating experience.

“We try to talk to as many kids as possible, and we look at what current trends are going on in the restaurant and food world when making our menus,” Culinary Services’ Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski said.

Reaching out and talking to the customers and students is key, and the Culinary Services staff is constantly looking to become better at what they do. In a recent on-campus resident survey for students returning to campus for the fall of 2013, nearly 60 percent indicated that on-campus dining options were a “main reason” for returning to on-campus housing.

“Food is very personal,” Kwiatkowski said. “We try to blend the lines between personal and authentic, using both authentic ingredients and good quality ingredients.”

Food industry management senior Mike Scott, who lived on-campus in Rather and Emmons Halls before moving to The Lodges, said on-campus dining played a major role in his decision to stay on campus after his freshman year.

“Both the quality of the food and the fact that I didn’t want to cook everyday influenced my decision to stay on-campus,” Scott said.

Kwiatkowski said keeping up with the students is a constant work in progress.

“If you look at how far we’ve come in a short time, about five to seven years, we’ve really taken a good operation and made it great,” Kwiatkowski said. “It was a good system before, but we continue to try and improve ourselves.”

In the end, whether its food or the teams that play in Spartan Stadium or the Breslin Center, or even just the atmosphere in East Lansing, one thing remains constant when looking for new MSU students.

“We are looking for future alumni,” Ambrose said. “We are looking for future Spartans.”

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