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The Point: To re-open a University dining club


Today's Point was written by Professor Maria Brincker of Philosophy and CLA Senate Moderator

Dear All,    

The topic today is university dining and the question of supporting and making space for faculty and staff to be nourished and thrive at UMB. And as the CLA senate moderator and committed “space fighter,” I have been invited to provide some thoughts and updates both from the past and present situation here on campus and from the galaxy of dreams.   

Starting with the former, let me first draw attention to the email from Provost Berger on Sep. 11th that the University Dining SPACE (not club) has been re-opened and made available to faculty, staff, and graduate students M-F from 11:30am-2pm. This is an important step forward and I hope that many will bring their lunch and use this space to re-energize, eat, and talk to colleagues. However, note that there is currently nothing in the room, no food, no water, no napkins or utensils, no microwave (but do bring your ID as a student has been hired to document who enters).    

Turning to the galaxy of dreams, I would like to highlight that faculty and staff have expressed clear desire for further steps, namely 1) to reopen the University Dinning Club with food services and 2) to expand the hours of space availability to 9am-5pm – and perhaps even serve coffee.   

A bit of background: I stumbled into this whole space and dining issue as a member of the CLA Senate executive committee in Spring 22, as we were looking at various issues of faculty morale, attrition, and lack of opportunities for research collaboration. We suggested that once University Dining reopens after covid, it would be great if the hours could be expanded such that the space could also be used as a daily faculty café/workspace/monthly bar, which would allow for the kind of casual interactions that are so important for faculty collaboration. We then learned that there was in fact no plan to reopen the University Dining Club. Why? Well, after email pleas, we were told – through the CLA Dean at the time – that these were decisions made by Sodexo who did not see profit in reopening the Dining Club, as well as the UMB leadership—or rather the so-called “SPACE (Space Planning and Capital Expenditure) Committee”—who might prefer to use the space as a rental revenue stream. (We did not see the calculations but did wonder 1) how often the space would be rented out weekdays before 5pm, and 2) how much the line items of prestige loss, failed searches, lost partnership opportunities, and overall lowering of faculty morale and well-being would be…)   

In any case – we were informed that we had to petition the SPACE Committee and that it was best if faculty from multiple colleges were part of the petition. Alas, in May, when faculty members are never busy, a petition was written asking the SPACE Committee to re-open the UDC space from 9am-5pm. Note that since it was not clear that the SPACE Committee was in charge of the decision to re-open the actual food services this was not explicitly asked for.    

However, it was clear from the 188 signatures and comments, which the petition quickly gathered, that that the University Dining Club had been serving core needs and that a research university needs to have a presentable lunch option to take visitors to and for the campus faculty and staff community to meet in.     

Lastly, to the deeper history – interestingly I have learned from a great write-up by Walter E. Weibrecht, that the Dining Club in fact was started all the way back in 1970. I invite everyone to read his piece (which is attached as a doc, as it was on the old UMB website, and the link is now broken).    

Long story short: Please do use the University Dining space - and if you want to help push for expanded hours and the return of the actual University Dining Club – please contact the “SPACE Committee” directly, add your comments to the petition which is still open, and do contact me with ideas.  


Maria Brincker   

Philosophy, CLA Senate moderator, and happenstance organizer of the space fighters   

This is your union.  Please let us know at if you have additional ideas about University Dining.