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The University Magazine

Four decades of food for thought

James Bingham '70

It's been 39 years since a young co-op student took the reins during a food crisis on the RIT campus. James Bingham '70, '92 (food management, service management) was only two weeks into his co-op when the entire management team of Grace Watson dining hall simultaneously quit.

What ensued were three hectic weeks of scrambling to keep students fed, led by Bingham himself. When a new manager was hired, Bingham accepted the full-time position of assistant manager, handling all production planning for Grace Watson Dining Hall Dining.

Bingham retired this fall as director of RIT Dining Services, a position he's held for 28 years.

The RIT food services system looks very little like it did when Bingham started in 1970. There are now 12 departments with everything from dining halls, convenience stores and coffee shops that serve more than 12,000 people each day.

Thousands of student employees have punched in and out over the years, and at any given time, 800 RIT students are getting their paychecks from Dining Services. The director manages an annual budget of $22 million.

Bingham has been involved in many RIT organizations, including the RIT Hospitality Alumni Society. In 1992, he received the Sarah Margaret Gillam Award from the School of Hospitality and Service Management, which is the highest award given to an alumnus of his program.

Bingham says he's proud of the changes he's helped to make at RIT. "RIT means a lot to me," says Bingham. "Great things have come out of this institution, and I'm proud to have kept the stomachs full so the faculty can fill up the minds."

Zach Myrow