Oregon State University
When a student wrote a newspaper column last year raving about Oregon State’s cafeteria, he had just one complaint: no spicy chicken. Within hours of the article being published, Dining Services called the student personally to let him know that a Buffalo Chicken Wrap had been added to the menu at all of the public university’s dining facilities—and an ad purchased in the school paper let the rest of OSU’s campus know, too. It’s a story Rich Turnbull, head of dining services, likes to tell to illustrate his staff’s commitment to customer service. His staff also regularly monitors comments on Facebook and other social media to ensure students are satisfied. But OSU goes even further than that. To craft the menu at its Serrano Grill, the school flew its chefs to Monterrey, Mexico, a city renowned for its food, to study authentic Mexican cuisine. For its Southeast Asian café, it imported an Indonesian chef to liven up new dishes. And on a recent trip to Chicago, Turnbull took his chefs to eat at celebrated chef Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. “I’ve learned over the years that you can only know true excellence if you see it up-close and firsthand,” Turnbull says.