NACUFS Releases 2021 Salary Survey, Welcomes New President

A biannual survey by National Association of College & University Food Services examines compensation for 33 positions within collegiate foodservice.

The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) has released the results from its 2021 Salary Benchmarking Survey. This biannual survey tracks and measures compensation for 33 positions within collegiate foodservice from the director/executive level to a student foodservice worker.


Compensation across salaried positions remains strong but flat for 2021. Respondents reported an average salary increase of 1.78%, with the median salary for the director of foodservice being reported at $108,665. The director of foodservice is the senior operating manager or department head for foodservices or a dining services program. The salary high for the director was reported at $136,656.

The next two top salaried positions within collegiate foodservice reported the following:

  • The median salary for the associate director is $90,000 with a salary high of $107,000. The associate director is the senior subordinate to the director who may assume responsibility for the department in the absence of the director.
  • The median salary for the assistant director is $74,590 with a salary high of $89,460. The assistant director is the senior operating manager responsible for one or more segments of the foodservice department.
Photo: Adobe Stock

In comparison, the median salary for the director/executive director is $153,000 with a salary high of $165,000. The director/executive director is the senior administrator responsible for the management of support or auxiliary services, which typically includes foodservice and one or more other auxiliary services such as housing, bookstores, printing, etc.

Compensation across hourly positions saw incremental change for 2021 with a median hourly wage range of $14.33 to $16.10 depending on position. A comparison between 2018 and 2020 indicates an average hourly wage increase of 12.96%.

Specific to Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) respondents reported the following impacts:

  • 38.5% did not furlough/lay off/terminate employees because of COVID-19.
  • 2.9% experienced an increase in institution-wide pay because of COVID-19.
  • 39.1% reported pay changes occurred as usual during COVID-19.
  • 43.8% experienced a pay freeze or no planned/anticipated increase or decrease during COVID-19.

“The data in NACUFS’ salary survey indicate that foodservice jobs in the college and university sector are solid, secure positions at hourly and management levels,” said NACUFS Chief Executive Robert Nelson. “When one considers benefits and scheduling or holiday options, the college and university sector offers some of the best foodservice professional employment opportunities.”

All data provided is dependent on a variety of data sets that include: all institutions, region, community size, annual foodservice revenue, public/private status, two-year/four-year structure, self-operated/contract managed, and the number of full-time equivalent employees.

In other NACUFS news…

The Association has announced the 64th President of NACUFS, Kristina Patridge, and elected eight new members to its Board of Trustees during the General Membership Assembly held on July 29, 2021.

Kristina Patridge
64th President of NACUFS

“It is an exciting time to lead the association and I am honored and enthusiastic to serve as NACUFS president,” said Kristina Patridge, director of university dining services at the University of Alabama. “As our members emerge from a global pandemic and continue their mission to support student success, there is great value in the learning programs, relationships, and services provided by NACUFS.”

Patridge has been a member of NACUFS for more than 20 years and served on the Board since 2016.

The following individuals were elected to serve on the NACUFS Board of Trustees.

  • Kerry Paterson, 2021-2022 President-Elect
    Oregon State University
  • Steve Mangan, 2021-2023 Treasurer
    University of Michigan
  • Theresa Baker, 2021-2023 At-Large Trustee
    University of Richmond
  • Chris Nukaya, 2021-2023 At-Large Trustee
    Brigham Young University
  • Peter Testory, 2021-2023 At-Large Trustee
    University of Wisconsin – Madison Housing
  • Rahul Shrivastav, 2021-2023 At-Large Trustee
    Indiana University
  • Shayne Varnum, 2021-2023 Industry Trustee
    Hobart Food Equipment Group
  • Julaine Kiehn was appointed as the 2021-2022 Guest Trustee, and Orlynn Rosaasen, University of North Dakota is the Immediate Past President.

The new trustees will join Merrill Collins, Connecticut College, At-Large Trustee; Jay Glatz, Johnson County Community College, At-Large Trustee; and Richard Huffman, University of Montana, At-Large Trustee, who are currently serving their two-year term (2020-2022), and NACUFS CEO, Robert Nelson.

The Board of Trustees is the volunteer-based governing board for the Association and sets the strategic direction of the Association.

“I look forward to working closely with the amazing NACUFS staff, our new CEO, Robert Nelson, the outstanding Board of Trustees, and all of the talented and passionate volunteers, who give their time, expertise, and energy to make this association great,” added Patridge.