Section: Features

Peirce employees reflect on dining through the decades

Peirce employees reflect on dining through the decades

Photo by Kristen Huffman

From a pizzeria operating out of Peirce Pub to two serving lines, the Kenyon dining experience has changed over the years.

Kenyon’s dining situation is not the same as it was when some of Peirce Hall’s current employees began their employment on the Hill. Betty-Jo Morrison-Mizer has been at Peirce longer than any other current staff members and said she still remembers her first day, Aug. 26, 1975. Since being hired, Morrison-Mizer has worked under the companies Saga, Custom Food Service, Aramark and now AVI.

“Everybody has their own way of doing things, of course, and every company has their own job structure and all that,” Morrison-Mizer said. The different management teams decide which serving styles will continue and which will not. 

Having become a jack-of-all-trades at Peirce, Morrison-Mizer is able to fulfill a variety of roles. Currently she works at the salad bar, though she has worked in the past cooking breakfast, preparing desserts and even as one of the line servers when food used to be distributed from only two serving lines.

The most noticeable dining transformation, however, has been that of Gund Common — formerly a dining hall that served the northern half of campus and operated until 2009.  Morrison-Mizer said having only one dining hall in recent years has not been ideal. “Workwise it works,” she said, “but for students, it’s rough.” While Morrison-Mizer never worked in Gund, other current employees did.

Currently stationed in the dish room, Rose  Pitsenberger used to work in the dishroom at Gund, as well as in the pizzeria in the Pub. Like Morrison-Mizer, she believes having Gund open as a dining option would better serve students’ needs. What she misses more, however, is actually serving students. “I feel there was more contact with the students,” Pitsenberger said. “You could communicate with them better instead of just you putting the food there and them grabbing it.”

Both women said one constant feature during their time at Kenyon has been the students’ attitudes. “Most of them are very nice,” Morrison-Mizer said. “If I want to strangle one a year, I don’t think that’s too bad out of 1,700.”

Pitsenberger, who works behind the dish-return carousel, wishes she had more chances to interact with students. Separated by a wall and moving dishes, students often shout “thank yous” to Pitsenberger and her co-workers. “I have one student who says, ‘I love you all,’ and I always tell him back, ‘I love you, too,’” she said. “I wish they would just come around to the back of the dish room once in a while and say, ‘Hey, I’m the one that says this.’”

These relationships with students sometimes last beyond the students’ four years at Kenyon. Morrison-Mizer said she maintains a special relationship with Lisa Schott ’80, managing director of the Philander Chase Corporation, as she was one of the students in the first class Morrison-Mizer served from its first year through its senior year.

For Pitsenberger, these long-term relationships are what make the job worthwhile. While working at a trustee dinner recently, she ran into a former student who is now a trustee. She recognized his face, but could not recall his name. The trustee remembered seeing her every day at meals. “Now sure, when we get older we can’t put the names with the faces because we see so many kids, but I did something because he can remember me,” Pitsenberger said. “That’s very touching.”

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