Virginia Tech's dining program was recently given the Ivy Award, which honors the best food service operations and restaurants in the industry, by Restaurants and Institutions magazine. This award is only given out once a year.
Ed Spencer, vice president for student affairs, said that the Ivy Award has various categories including restaurants, hotel food services, business food services and college or university.
"The Ivy Award is the Academy Award of food services," Spencer said.
Rick Johnson, director of housing and dining services, said that the Ivy Award is the highest national honor that a dining service can receive.
"Previous winners of this award must deem you worthy of recognition," Johnson said. "Then there is a national vote of all of the readership, which was about 140,000 this year, to vote on the nominee of the year, and then that is how you win."
Because nominations come from previous winners, "it was a real honor for us to be nominated," said Katie Gehrt, marketing and communication manager for dining services.
The nomination process for the Ivy award is anonymous, so Tech was unaware of its nomination until it was announced.
"You do not know who nominated you," Gehrt said. "We did not know until we saw our name on the ballot."
The award will be presented to Tech's dining program on May 17 at the Field Museum in Chicago during the National Restaurant Association Show. Tech will then be formally inducted into the prestigious Ivy Society.
Tech has worked very hard to have an excellent dining program, Gehrt said.
"Other colleges and universities come here to visit us and to see what Tech's dining program is all about, which is a great thing for us," Gehrt said. "Through the years we have gained a lot of recognition because of this."
Spencer said that the high number of optional dining plans that Tech has sold to students living off campus has attracted attention because that is not common among universities.
Johnson said that over the past five to six years, Tech's dining program has hosted over 60 universities, giving them a taste of what our dining program is like.
"We get about 15 to 20 schools that visit us a year to learn about our dining programs and the kind of work we put in to make them so successful," Spencer said.
The most recent dining visit was from Michigan State. The school has a larger housing program than Tech, but Tech's dining program is bigger.