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In housing and dining, Miami students say we’re #1

Miami’s housing and dining operations received high ratings in a recently completed benchmarking study that compares student satisfaction at universities nationwide.

"To be number one among more than 180 major universities on 14 percent of the questions and to be in the top 20 percent in 22 of the 36 questions is spectacular," said Richard Norman, vice president for finance and business services. "It’s a tribute to the dedication and hard work of our housing, dining and guest services staff."

More than 4,000 student customers at Miami responded to a survey that also was given at 182 other universities, including Duke University, Indiana University and Penn State. Miami ranked first on five questions, including:

• How satisfied are you with cleanliness of residence halls?

• How satisfied are you with the attitude of the cleaning staff?

• How satisfied are you with timeliness of repairs?

• How satisfied are you with cleanliness of bathroom facilities?

• How satisfied are you with study facilities in your residence hall?

The benchmarking process also allowed Miami to compare its results to those at six other selective admission universities, including College of William & Mary, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rutgers University, Purdue University and the University of Virginia.

In that group, Miami ranked first on 15 of the 36 questions, including quality of dining hall food and dining facility service hours, value of dining hall plan and room assignment policies.
"We wanted to see how we stacked up against other top universities and we found our reputation verified by a new source," said Adolph Haislar, senior associate vice president for auxiliary services.

Internal surveys of student customers have been conducted for the past 35 years, Haislar said, explaining that the recent benchmarking effort is the first attempt to evaluate Miami services against those of other universities.

The benchmarking results are merely the latest recognition for housing and dining staff, who also have received national awards for effective business practices and cost reduction from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and for use of technology from the National Association of College and University Food Services.

Residential universities have real challenges when it comes to residence and dining hall operations, explained Haislar. Today’s students are not captive customers and universities have reacted by providing students with choices in meal plans and residence hall options.

"If a room goes empty or students reject eating in our dining halls, it means costs to our students go up because the university’s budget is set up so that all dining/residence hall operations must be self-supporting," explained Haislar.

"That’s why we must pay so much attention to customer satisfaction surveys," he said.

No other Ohio colleges or universities participated in the study, which was sponsored by the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International and Educational Benchmarking Inc.

Date Published: 11/29/2001
Volume: 21   Number: 17

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