Hamilton: opening comment: Waterleaf loses money and is not related to the educational mission. Trustee Bernstein will present options.
[We were given a Waterleaf Space Optimization Study handout, based on the Waterleaf committee.]
Bernstein states the Waterleaf was the dream of one man. He goes on to detail all the issues related to Waterleaf, deficits, ignored internal audit, current accounting investigation, adverse publicity because of all the money spent by managers. This is no reflection on the integrity of the Waterleaf Staff. It is time turn a new page.
Donna Stewart: we are here to share with you different options, three in addition to leaving it as is. We’ll hear from Brice Schmiedl, Ellen Roberts, and someone from the academic area.
Bruce Schmiedl: [goes over the current layout and specs] First option: convert the dining area to classroom space, 3 classrooms with 20 students each. This is small by our standards, and a 16-person conference room. The kitchen is unchanged.
Second option: similar but classrooms closer to kitchen, and smaller conference room.
Third option: gutting the entire building, classrooms, offices for faculty, kitchen converted to classrooms.
Costs for options 1 and 2 $110 to $150 per square foot up to about $500,000. For option 3, $180 to $225 per square foot because the demolition is more intense. Up to close to $2 million.
Ellen Roberts: I’d like to talk about bringing a third party to lease or operate the facility. We have a contract with Sodexo for all dining services on campus. They are not interested at this time because of the location away from foot traffic, anticipated investment, and negative publicity in the press.
But they are more interested to the Wheat Cafe if academic space moved to Waterleaf space, they would be interested in that. They would then more readily provide catering to East campus, fewer labor costs. That would be under their current contract.
A second option we looked at was rental of space for events. We currently turn down 5 large events a month because of the lack of space. Sodexo could still cater event and still share the space.
Other option: leasing externally, demographics in the district are favorable. But there are challenges same as the problems Sodexo had. It would require a change in our current contract with Sodexo.
But rental would bring a potential revenue between $84,000 to $180,000.
Donna Stewart – Third option: conversion to an academic lab
I’m an academic dean, so presenting an opportunity for greater student experience is very easy. We can enhance the preparation of our students through more lab-based instruction and applied learning. We could offer new courses that were impossible before because of the lack of lab access. The students would gain exposure to different styles of service and cuisine. The kitchen at the Wheat Cafe is designed as a lab, it’s an artificial environment. What we have in Waterleaf is more representative of a real restaurant kitchen. They are not interchangeable. The Waterleaf has patio seating, conference rooms, all of which could be used in different ways for learning. With greater access to all the first floor, if we could move more courses there, that would open up more possibilities for the Wheat Cafe as well. Both would be impacted.
There are varieties of ways to take advantage of these opportunities. All the culinary students and many of the hospitality students, that’s about 900 students, with 8 FT faculty.
There are already courses that were designed to be taught at the Waterleaf. We would have no other place to go if this went away. But there are other courses we could create. We would leave the current Fall schedule as is.
Faculty are already working on curriculum revision, This is a lengthy process, in part because we reach out. We have a robust advisory board. We would do a full review of the curriculum, which could take a whole semester. We have a very thorough curriculum process.
In spring, we have a little more flexibility because students has not started. We could begin looking at transitioning some of the work we do at the Wheat Cafe, and moving some offerings into the Waterleaf because WC maxes out at 50 people. We’d also look at these Monday / Tuesday offerings, we would look at moving those later in the week to facilitate a more robust dining room. We’d move some of our hospitality planning, and use Waterleaf footprint for large events.
There might be also a course of fast casual dining in Wheat Cafe, something similar to Panera. Currently, we don’t have a lab, The WC would lend itself to that type of dining. We could try that in Spring 2016.
From the academic perspective, WC and Waterleaf go hand in hand. There are possibilities for WC as well, not just Waterleaf, such as a “grab and go” concept.
Longer terms, there are lots of possibilities, all focused on student involvement. We could turn to student employment, internship, etc.