David Annis, director of dining services at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), was named as the winner of the Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award as the 2023 NACUFS National Conference got underway in Baltimore. The Minah Award is the highest honor given by the association, which represents the higher education dining community.
The award ceremony introduction was delivered by NACUFS President Kerry Paterson of Oregon State University, with the announcement of Annis’ selection as the recipient made by Immediate Past President Kristina Patridge of the University of Alabama, who detailed some Annis’ career highlights before bringing him to the stage.
In accepting the award from Paterson and Patridge, Annis started by “thanking all the people over the past 40 years who have made it possible for me to stand on this stage tonight. We know that in dining we are part of a team and we aren’t successful unless the team is successful. I have been so fortunate over the years to be part of a couple of very incredible teams,” citing his longtime stint at the University of Oklahoma, where he spent 33 years, and since 2019 at UNL, where his program recently won an FM Best Concept Award for its renovation of the school’s Selleck Dining Center.
He in particular thanked his wife Susan. “Nothing I’ve achieved in my career would have been possible without her love and support,” he said.
Annis is a current board member and past president of NACUFS with a 47-year career in collegiate foodservice that dates back to his childhood through his father, a founding member of NACUFS. In his youth, Annis ran concession stands and the commissary at the local Boy Scout summer camp, eventually managing the Camp Headquarters Dining Hall at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. In 1983, he became a food service manager at the University of South Dakota and went on to work at the University of Oklahoma before taking his current position at the UNL.
In addition to the recent FM Best Concept Award, Annis has also received the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Regents Award to Dining Services for Meritorious Service in 2022, the University of Oklahoma Student Government Association Inaugural Nancy G. Moulder Award for Student Service in 2018, and the University of Oklahoma’s Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity in 2005.
His service within NACUFS began in the ‘80s and took the form of countless volunteer roles over the years, including serving as president in 2007. He received the NACUFS Southern Region Distinguished Service Award in 2015, NACUFS Richard Lichtenfelt Award in 2009, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) Doctorate of Food Service Award in 2007, NACUFS Volunteer Award in 2005, and NACUFS President's Award in 1993.
In his acceptance speech, Annis reflected on the rich memories and experiences from his decades-long involvement in the association.
“Most importantly, through NACUFS, I’ve gotten to meet and work with a lot of great people, people who I have looked up to, respected and admired. People who were passionate about the same things I was passionate about,” he said. “NACUFS is about people. I have been privileged to work with and be associated with some of the best and brightest in collegiate dining through NACUFS over these many years. I take a little part of each of these people, and they are a part of me now.”