Following the departure of Nadeem Siddiqui, former director of Cornell Dining and Retail Services, Colleen Wright-Riva was named the new director after a nationwide search last May.
Wright-Riva was among over 100 candidates at The National Restaurant Association Food Show in Chicago considered for the position, according to LeNorman Strong, Assistant Vice President of Student and Academic Services. The annual food show is “the premiere educational and product exhibit program for the food service and dining industries worldwide,” Strong said, and Wright-Riva was on the final list of nationally reputed and award-winning candidates.
With the assistance of Porter Associates, a Maryland based search firm, the search process “culminated with an unanimous recommendation of Wright-Riva” from the Cornell dining staff and the Cornell dining committee, said Strong.
“Colleen has the integrity and commitment to do a wonderful job for Cornell Dining and take the program to the next level,” said Siddiqui, now Executive Director at Stanford University Dining.
Strong said to have Colleen emerge was a “compliment” to the University because of her creativity and her knowledge of Cornell. Having worked for Cornell Dining since April 2000 as the general manager for West Campus and then North Campus Dining and Retail Services, “Wright-Riva has developed wonderful relationships with the dining staff in her two years at Cornell,” said Susan Murphy, vice president of student and academic services.
“In search of the most qualified and knowledgeable candidate for the position … we were fortunate to find that person right here at Cornell in Colleen Wright-Riva,” stated Stephen Blake ’05, chair of the Cornell dining committee in an e-mail.
“From a student’s perspective, one of those reasons is her practice of listening to student concerns then ensuing with immediate action. We can all relate to stories of managers saying, “yeah, i’ll take care of your complaint” but then never acting on it. Colleen is a woman of her word,” stated Esther Tang ’04, former chairperson of the Cornell dining committee in an e-mail.
Murphy added that Wright-Riva is known for her creative ideas and is extremely dedicated to letting the campus know what Cornell Dining has to offer.
Wright-Riva said she will oversee the transition of the West Campus dining program into the “house system.” Five distinct houses (residence halls) with five distinct dining programs will replace Jansen’s Dining within the next 10 years.
“I’m planning and strategizing how to make the individual dining units top notch with the same kind of caliber that students have seen on North Campus.”
Wright-Riva said she feels privileged and thrilled to be the director of Cornell Dining and Retail Services.
She said she accepted the job because she enjoyed “how much students appreciate the great food.”
Wright-Riva plans to enhance the dining program on central campus to make it more appealing to students, staff and faculty working on campus, Wright-Riva said.
Wright-Riva also wishes to improve on the Kosher and multicultural initiatives on campus.
“There are a lot of interesting and creative ways to cook food and to appeal to students with specialized needs,” she said.
Following Siddiqui’s tradition of maintaining close contact with students, Wright-Riva aims to be approachable and hopes to initiate contact with students and perhaps form a “Dinner with the Director” program where students can communicate their thoughts to her. She said she hopes to spend at least two days a week dedicated to talking to students and getting feedback on the dining program.
Archived article by Janet Liao