Q: Where are you from originally?
A: Vermillion, South Dakota. It’s a college town for the University of South Dakota. My dad was a food services director at the University of South Dakota, and my mom ran the school lunch programs in Vermillion. I grew up surrounded by food and swore that I wouldn’t work in food services. I got my degrees in public administration and secondary education at USD. But, I enjoyed and had a passion for food; so, I was happy when I got a job in food service.
Q: What brought you to OU?
A: It was supposed to be a two or three-year career move. I was the manager of food services at the University of South Dakota, and I came down to be the assistant director of food services at OU. My wife and I didn’t want to get stuck in Oklahoma, but we fell in love with Norman and the university. We’ve both had great opportunities here. Our kids were born here, and, 30 years later, we are very much Oklahomans.
Q: Some people know you as the “Waffle Man.” Will you tell us about that and what inspired it?
A: Making waffles for people started as a way to build connections and create a positive experience between departments. It then morphed into a way for me to be able to talk with students. It’s an informal way to let students sit in their lounges and talk about what’s going on and what’s important to them, and I just observe. A lot of the things we have done for students, like the practice rooms in the basement of Tarman, have been a result of Waffle Man events. The idea is to be able to meet with students, talk with students, listen to students and just gauge where they are. The students love the waffles. It’s easy to do, but it serves so many other purposes.
Q: What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
A: Definitely music. I spend a lot of time listening to music while I work. I never made it much past the mid-90s, though; so, anything past ’95 is probably a little foreign to me. On most days, you’ll hear me listening to my ’70s and ’80s stuff. Pretty typical parent music.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I like to go to new restaurants and see what they are putting on their menus. My degree path was as a city manager; so, I also spend a lot of time looking at what city managers are doing. I also read a lot of magazines and can’t miss an episode of “NCIS” or “Falling Skies.”
Q: What would students or staff be surprised to know about you?
A: I’m pretty much an open book. That’s part of being in a place for 30 years. Everyone knows everything about you. But most people don’t know I used to have hair down to my shoulders and a really wicked Fu Manchu.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: It would have to be moving into the housing position in 2008. While I had worked with Residence Life and Housing I never really appreciated what they did. I had a whole career line I hadn’t lived and needed to learn. I am fortunate that I had Diane and her team to help me learn the Residence Life side of things.
Q: If you wrote an autobiography what would the title be?
A: *Looking at a shelf lined with SpongeBob memorabilia* “SpongeBob and Friends.” The SpongeBob thing came up years ago when I mentioned to someone that I liked SpongeBob because he’s a food service worker who likes his job. It just sort of took off.
Q: What’s your favorite campus restaurant or menu item?
A: Couch Restaurants is still my favorite campus restaurant. When I got here 30 years ago, we had Cate and Couch Restaurants. Couch Restaurants had six lines serving the same two entrees, and Cate had two lines serving the same two entrees. So, every student was eating exactly the same thing every night. I’m incredibly proud of where Couch Restaurants is today and of the quality of the food there. I’m very proud of all the operations we have, but Couch Restaurants is still my favorite.
Q: What’s your favorite OU tradition?
A: I think my favorite OU tradition is still doing the OU Chant after every event. Whether it’s a football game or a presidential dinner, I just think it really sums up the university and the OU family.
Q: Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen?
A: Make sure to go out and get involved. Take a little taste of a lot of different things. Don’t come in focused on one thing. Be willing to try different things and to join different groups. Go to the Caf, and make new friends. Slow down, and smell the roses. Be open to new ideas and experiences. Experience everything you can. College life really is what you make of it. Some of that is coming in with your own ideas, beliefs and standards and living up to them.