Timothy Dietzler, Director of Dining Services at Villanova University, on Monday night became the 55th recipient of the IFMA Gold Plate Award, one of the highest honors in the foodservice industry. He is only the second gold plate winner from the college and university segment (the first was Gerald Ramsey, of Southern Methodist University, in 1967) and brings the award home to his alma mater and to the school where he has spent almost all of his professional foodservice career.
Over his tenure at Villanova, Dietzler assisted with — and then oversaw — the transformation of Villanova's campus dining service from a single meal plan offering board meals at traditional residence dining halls to one with multiple retail options and a wide range of meal plans designed to fit different student needs. The program, with annual sales of $24 million, serves almost 16,000 meals a day.
One of nine children, Dietzler began his career in foodservice as a 16-year old, delivering meat for a local grocery store. He eventually graduated from Villanova, initially going to work in the clubs segment, but then returning to Villanova to fill a position in its dining services department.
As a director, Dietzler has often pointed to the precepts espoused in The Servant Leader, by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, a slim volume Dietzler has given to dozens of staff and colleagues. In his acceptance remarks last night, Dietzler thanked his family for their years of support and was also eloquent in crediting many on his staff by name for their contributions to the Villanova program’s success.
“One thing I always thought I had was a talent for recognizing who my customer was,” Dietzler said in accepting the award. ”But it took me many years to find out that my customer was not our patrons, or our faculty or students, it is my staff.”
The Gold Plate Award is selected in a sealed ballot process by a jury of top foodservice trade press editors and the past year’s recipients of the Silver Plate Awards. The ballots are tabulated by a third party accounting firm, and the winner’s name is held in confidence and only announced on the evening of the awards banquet.