URI names new Director of Dining and Retail Food Operations

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After eight months as interim director, Johnston’s Steve Mello tabbed

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 24, 2009 – Steven Mello has been named the director of Dining and Retail Food Operations just days after the University of Rhode Island’s Hope Commons dining center won a major national award.

Mello, of Johnston, has been acting as interim director since November. An associate administrator for the University’s Dining Services since 1995, he brings more than 28 years of experience in food service management to the school.

A national search was conducted for the position, and Mello – a registered and licensed dietitian – was a natural choice to fill the post.

“Steve has the ability and motivation to provide outstanding leadership to an existing strong management team in dining services and I am confident he will continue to provide high quality and award winning food service to the students, faculty and staff of the University,” URI Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Dougan said.

Earlier this month, Mello and the dining services department were honored by the National Association of College and University Food Services with the Loyal E. Horton Dining Gold Award in the large school division of residence hall dining. The organization later awarded Hope Commons the grand prize winner as the nation’s top performer in the category for schools of all sizes.

Dougan said support for Mello’s appointment was widespread among Mello’s colleagues both past and present.

“It makes you feel great when you receive that type of support from the people you work with,” Mello said.

Mello said his department is constantly working to improve the student experience at the University. One of his main priorities is to develop practices that result in less environmental impact.

“When students and parents are evaluating their choices for schools, there are a lot of factors,” Mello said. “Obviously academics is important, but we know the student life side of it is just as important. We know everything is on the table.”

Mello succeeds Kathleen Gianquitti, who served as the director of Dining Services for 23 years before stepping down at the end of last September. Mello has been with URI Dining Services since 1990, serving in a variety of management capacities. The Dining Services operation feeds 10,000 individuals daily. Most of them are students. It operates two main dining halls, 10 retail outlets, one catering operation, a warehouse and a satellite center that processes meal plans and identification cards for the entire campus.

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.