Coming 2015: University of Mary -- First in Nation With "Dining - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Coming 2015: University of Mary -- First in Nation With "Dining-Learning Commons"

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"Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck "Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck
"Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck "Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck
"Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck "Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck
Site of "Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck Site of "Dining-Learning Commons," coming to University of Mary, Bismarck

North Dakota is set to nab another "first-in-the-nation" title.  This time, the University of Mary is leading the way.

What's happening at the University of Mary is enough to make you want to go back to school.  "It starts with food, but it is so much more," says David Porter, CEO/President, Porter Khouw Consulting.
 
This year, the University of Mary goes from set hours to round-the-clock dining.  So rather than going off campus because food service is closed -- "they're all here, and they're all eating pancakes and omelettes in the dining hall," says Emily Lear, Senior, University of Mary.

But there's more.

The University is planning a first in the nation "Dining-Learning Commons."  The campus wants to move from a "come hungry-leave full" approach to a "living room" concept.  It's based on social dining guru David Porter's new book, "The Porter Principles."

The idea is to better accommodate student schedules and get them more engaged with each other.  Though the new building isn't expected until 2015, the concept is already working.  "I was in your dining hall last night at 12:15, and I witnessed between 20 and 30 young people -- groups of guys, groups of girls -- nobody was texting.  Nobody was on their cell phone.  Nobody was checking their Facebook," says Porter.

"They have the time to linger over a cup of coffee over just a little snack and can sit and talk and enjoy each other's company," says Dr. Tim Seaworth, Vice President for Student Development, University of Mary.

The University says there's less food waste with the new approach, because students know they can come back anytime.  Elizabeth Condic, Vice President for Financial Affairs at University of Mary notes reduced waste offsets increased labor costs for round-the-clock food service.  Reportedly, parents love it too, since they're not paying twice for meals -- once for on-campus dining and again for off-campus restaurant trips.

Senior Ryan Capouch says the new meal plans and 24-7 meal times are good for students.  "They'll never be hungry.  They'll never be broke, because of a meal plan they can't use.  Granted, they might be broke because of other things that go on, because we are college students" -- college students enjoying the college experience that much more.

The University of Mary is currently one of only three campuses in the U.S. to offer 24-7 on-campus dining.  School officials say the target date for the first-in-the-nation "Dining-Learning Commons" is Fall 2015.  Until then, they'll be fund-raising with an anticipated groundbreaking next summer.

 

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