Princeton University has named Smitha Haneef its executive director of Campus Dining beginning Monday, June 23. Reporting to Vice President for University Services Chad Klaus, Haneef will lead dining staff and facilities across campus and oversee residential and retail dining operations including the six residential college dining halls and the Frist Campus Center food venues.
She also will maintain Princeton's commitment to serving nutritious and sustainable food and collaborate with campus groups to develop new dining initiatives, the school noted in a press release announcing the appointment.
"Smitha brings an exciting and fresh perspective on providing inspired offerings to our diverse campus population, as well as building on the partnerships with residential colleges and campus retail and catering clients," Klaus says. "She also has impressive experience with professional development and mentorship programs for staff that I believe will serve our team well at Princeton."
Haneef says she looks forward to bringing her love of food and learning to Princeton.
"My passion is providing a dining environment that is fun, vibrant, sustainable and focused on the community," she notes. "I am honored to enhance the experiences of Princeton students, faculty and staff through Campus Dining."
Haneef helped launch the LifeWorks Restaurant Group, a premium on-site restaurant division of Aramark, and most recently served as district manager for the unit, leading large staff teams and overseeing restaurants, catering programs, cafes and other food service operations at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She was directly involved in expanding LifeWorks into Google, Nike and Walt Disney Studios.
While in the position, she established partnerships with community organizations and global food programs to educate clients and restaurant guests about healthy and socially responsible food choices. She earned Aramark's company-wide employee award for Most Valuable Partner in 2011.
Haneef helped develop the culinary arts curriculum at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, CA, where she served as a guest faculty member. She also volunteered as a chef for the Santa Clara (CA) USD, introducing hospitality careers to middle school students.
"Smitha brings a wealth of experience in optimizing high culinary and wellness standards, providing excellent service and encouraging the professional development of dining staff, all in the context of a sustainably focused and financially viable program," Klaus says.
Before joining Aramark, Haneef was chef and owner of Aha Bite Corp., an award-winning restaurant and catering company in Birmingham, AL. She collaborated with top chefs in the area to develop a global menu of Indian and fusion cuisine that used local ingredients. She also has led several restaurants and large catering events in Chicago.
Longtime Princeton Dining Director Stu Orefice had left the school late last year after 20 years in the position, and Klaus had served as interim director since.