June 10, 2011

University Housing captures two national awards

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- University Housing at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the winner of two national awards for special programs conducted during the 2010-2011 academic year in conjunction with other campus units.
The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) is honoring SIUC with first place for Most Innovative Nutrition Program as well as the bronze award in the annual Loyal E. Horton Dining Award competition. The University’s “Paint Your Plate! Incorporate the Colors of Good Nutrition” Health and Nutrition Fair, held March 23, earned the innovative nutrition award while the special event, “The Storm Remembered: An Evening in New Orleans” on Sept. 24, 2010, won the bronze plaque.
“I am so proud of not only our team, but of our collaborative partners in these events. Everyone worked very hard on these important programs, going above and beyond and bringing not only national recognition to the University, but most importantly, providing our students with high quality, important programs,” said Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant provost for University College and director of University Housing.
Utilizing a fun format that included games, prizes and giveaways, the free Health and Nutrition Fair offered information to help participants choose a healthy, nutritious diet and lifestyle. The event was a collaborative effort between University Housing, the Student Health Center and its Wellness Center and nutrition program, the College of Agricultural Sciences, the College of Engineering, Recreational Sports and Services, Southern Illinois Healthcare and various student organizations and community agencies.
The Most Innovative Nutrition Program award goes annually to a college or university in recognition of a unique and effective nutrition program, according to NACUFS.
“Being recognized by the NACUFS for the 10th annual Health and Nutrition Fair is an honor. The creativity and dedication of our full-time staff and student interns encouraged event participants to make positive nutrition and health-related choices. The event has grown over the years to include many other departments on campus. I’m extremely proud to be part of the team that has brought national recognition to SIUC,” said Peggy Connors, registered dietitian and associate director of University Housing-Residence Hall Dining.
The bronze award in the NACUFS’ annual Loyal E. Horton Dining Award competition recognizes “An Evening in New Orleans,” a collaborative event also involving the Student Programming Council and the office of Saluki First Year (now the University College). Saluki First Year is the experience coordinated by the University College in conjunction with offices and programs from across campus.
A large, appreciative crowd from across campus and the surrounding community attended “The Storm Remembered: An Evening in New Orleans.”
“We are thrilled to receive this award. The traditional Cajun and Creole food was a change of pace for our staff. The event gave them the opportunity to show off their many creative talents. ‘An Evening in New Orleans’ was truly a night to remember,” said Pamela J. McGuire, assistant food service manager for University Housing.
The “Evening in New Orleans” event at University Housing’s Trueblood Dining Hall featured authentic Louisiana cuisine and live Cajun music by Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp. The guest speaker for the evening was Chris Rose, author of “1 Dead in the Attic,” the acclaimed book about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Saluki First Year selected the book as the common reader for the academic year with all new SIUC students receiving a copy.
A variety of special displays and videos at the fall event also served to remember the deadly storm, its tragedies and its triumphs. The intent of all aspects of “The Storm Remembered: An Evening in New Orleans” was to give participants the opportunity to have a real New Orleans experience. The event was one of a number of activities throughout the University during the school year centering on the theme “The Storm Remembered: Tragedies and Triumphs of Katrina.”
“As the fifth anniversary of the storm approached, I felt it was important that we remember the victims of Katrina and their continuing suffering. I wanted our campus theme to remind everyone of their plight. And, from a programming perspective, the culture of New Orleans -- its music, food, diversity and architecture -- allowed the campus-wide events to come to life with an incredible vibrancy. That excitement was evident when Trueblood Hall transformed into a zydeco dance hall. It was a truly remarkable evening and one that I will never forget,” said Carla Coppi, director of International Programs and Services and originator of the theme.
“All of the groups that participated in the event brought the theme alive for our students. As a result, it exposed our students to and educated them about various facets of the Katrina tragedy including issues of race, culture, socioeconomic status, arts, music, shock, devastation and recovery. The storm directly impacted some of our students and they shared their stories with one another. A successful event like this is an example of what our University can do when we come together as a team. It was a powerful event, and one of which the SIUC community should be very proud,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.
The Loyal E. Horton Dining Award, named for the innovative co-founder and past president of NACUFS, recognizes college or university dining programs for noteworthy menus, presentations, special events and dining concepts. SIUC claimed the bronze award for medium schools in the “Residential Dining-Special Event” category.
University Housing representatives will receive both awards at the NACUFS award luncheon in Dallas in July.