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New director of dining outlines plans for the future

After an 18-year career at UNH, Jon Plodzik departed from the university to begin a new chapter of his life as director of dining services at Dartmouth College in Hanover. After a series of rigorous interviews, UNH alumnus of ‘82 and former Culinary Operations Associate Director David Hill has taken his place.

Hill received his foodservice degree from the Thompson School in 1982, and then went on to receive his bachelor’s in hospitality.

Hill said he had been Plodzik’s “right hand man” for 16 years, and he proudly recalls that the two men opened Holloway Commons together in 2003.

“As assistant director, I was the guy behind the scenes that always made everything happen, as far as special events, barbeques, sourcing products, et cetera went,” Hill said.

Although he said he would miss his obligations as assistant director of dining, he believes he was ready to step up and do good things for his alma mater. This job will entail less of the day-to-day operations and more long-term thinking in regard to dining’s goals for the future. In Hill’s words, director of dining is a “more strategic position.”

As the new director of dining, Hill has some new ideas for dining that he would like to achieve. As a man that has always been passionate about local sourcing, Hill hopes to place a stronger emphasis on local foods when it comes to UNH’s dining cuisine. He also wants to bridge the gap between students and their knowledge on dining practices. This includes dining’s selection and devotion to good fishery practices. “I think we have a big gap in trying to get that information out to people,” Hill said.

In addition, Hill has ambitions to work on adding to Stillings, as it hasn’t been remodeled since the late ‘90s, according to him. His plans include the possibility of making an open concept kitchen, giving the dining hall more viability and excitement due to its reputation as the quietest dining hall on campus.

He also has plans to unify all three dining halls (Philbrook, Stillings and Holloway Commons) to incorporate a movement he was deeply involved with. He would like for all three dining halls to place an equal emphasis on the allergen-friendly concept that is currently most prevalent at Philbrook. “I would like to get more of these allergen concepts going on at Holloway Commons and Stillings,” Hill said.

This devotion to unify healthy practices amongst all three dining halls was presented through Hill’s critical role in the innovation of the “Wildcat Plate” in 2012, present in Stillings, Philbrook and Holloway Commons. The plate encourages students to eat a well-balanced diet through its aesthetic display of nutritional recommendations and portion sizes.

“I really care about the students,” Hill said. “I want to stay current on trends and would like to be recognized out in the immediate and national community. [UNH Hospitality Services] belongs to [the National Association of College & University Food Services] and we network with all kinds of colleges across the country. This will continue to be a priority under my watch.”

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