Service is Rich Neumann’s specialty. For the past 28 years, he has been serving up fresh management perspectives and fresh meals to the Ohio University community. But this past July, Neumann found himself on the receiving end, as the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) presented him with the organization’s highest individual honor, the Theodore Minah Distinguished Service Award, based on his contributions to NACUFS and the foodservice industry.
Neumann has been active in NACUFS for many years. He has faithfully attended every one of the organization’s national conferences since 1997 and has served as the organization’s treasurer since 2007. In 2013, he represented NACUFS Internationally, delivering the keynote presentation on benchmarking at the University Caterers Organization (TUCO) Conference in Wales.
Neumann's career at Ohio University began in 1989 as a training coordinator and an instructor in the Food Service Management Program. As his career progressed, he held positions of assistant director and associate director. Today, as director of Culinary Services, Neumann leads OHIO’s culinary team in serving up over 4.1 million meals each year.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my 28-year career at OHIO,” Neumann said. “I get to lead and work with a great Culinary Services team. My favorite part is teaching the 100+ student leaders every year and watching them realize their potential.”
To celebrate Neumann’s award, Culinary Services held a surprise reception on July 20 in Auxiliaries’ main office. In traditional Culinary style, food and drinks were served, with people across the department coming together on Neumann’s behalf.
“Rich is extremely deserving of this award, and it helps to validate the positive impact he has made at not just Ohio University, but in the industry as a whole,” Associate Vice President Auxiliaries, Gwyn Scott told attendees. “It speaks volumes to how well respected Rich is among his colleagues across the nation.”
In addition to celebratory remarks, several colleagues coordinated a good-natured “Rich Roast.” The event poked fun at Neumann’s many penny-pinching habits, from Kroger gift card buying tactics to his “gas can plan” to his annual trips to Wisconsin, where Neumann is known to purchase 60+ pounds of cheese.
Reflecting on the physical award (which resembles a large, glass bowl), Neumann explained, “It’s just an empty bowl unless you can fill it with people and memories associated with it. I’m lucky I have plenty to fill it.”