Please join me in congratulating Marcus Van Vleet as he officially assumes the role of Executive Director, Dining and Hospitality Services effective December 12, 2022. Marcus has been serving as our interim Executive Director working in close partnership with Executive Chef Lanette Dickerson since June 2022. During that time, Marcus has pulled double duty also taking the lead while we continue the search for a new Director of Residential Dining. I thank both Marcus and Lanette for working in tandem the past six months and all the efforts in not only keeping the department running but also boosting our staff hires and retention, opening more venues than we were able to last year (including the Market at North District which houses our new Lollicup boba outlet!), expanding menu offerings and supporting a robustly returning events/catering business.
For those who aren’t familiar with Marcus’ background, he began working at UCR in June, 2019, as the Director of Retail Dining hired to oversee the renovation of The Barn as well as serving as primary for its grand re-opening before the pandemic hit. Additionally, Marcus has managed 12 retail locations around campus, several of which are in partnership with third party owners and that is often a dynamic that requires a great deal of flexibility along with solid knowledge of the privately owned dining market. Prior to UCR, Marcus worked for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for over 25 years serving in a variety of roles ranging from his early days as an Assistant Food and Beverage Supervisor at the San Diego location to Director, Food and Beverage Operations at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, continuing his ascent to Vice President positions in both Food & Beverage and Merchandise at SeaWorld of Texas and SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, Florida. Through these roles, Marcus gained a great deal of experience and skill development with supervising large staff teams, revenue growth, creating efficiencies and new endeavors to improve guest experience.
With the recent leadership changes, the Dining and Hospitality senior team has been restructured to better situate the unit for what’s ahead as well as balance the staff across the larger operation. In addition to the current recruitment for Residential Dining, we will soon post the Director-Retail and Restaurants and both of those roles will report to Marcus. Chef Lanette Dickerson, recently promoted to Director of Culinary Operations/Executive Chef, Gustavo Plasencia, Manager-Dining Projects, Safety and Sustainability, Alex Meister, Associate Director-Hospitality, and Diane Thomas, Dining Administrative Assistant will also directly report to Marcus.
I want to thank Davina Bailey, Lanette Dickerson, Milly Paredez, Chrissy Bender, Jeff Girod and Bob Brumbaugh who served on the search panel and helped us navigate this recruitment. I appreciate them bringing their unique perspectives to the process as well as the time they spent on it. I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the entire Dining and Hospitality team for their hard work, enthusiasm, and flexibility as we have navigated these large changes in leadership. It has been a very busy fall with much more ahead for Dining and Hospitality and Auxiliary Services overall.
I look forward to what the upcoming months will bring to our operations and feel fortunate that we have a dynamic and energetic leader in Marcus; I am confident he will have everyone’s support as he steps into this role.