Talking with Todd – one man’s influence
Dancing his way up to the stage in chapel on Tuesday, Robert Berg, professor of theology, taught the school that “We Are Family,” just as the 1979 Sister Sledge song suggests.
It’s true; the Evangel campus is one large family, composed of students, faculty and staff. We eat together, work together and learn together, day after day. As humans, it is in our nature to desire acceptance, and as Christians, it is our spiritual act of worship to accept one another with hospitality and friendship.
Few would disagree that the new Director of the Food Services Department represents this familial acceptance more visibly than most on campus. Todd Lanning began working for Evangel in the fall semester as the Director of Food Services.
Like his predecessor, Lanning has displayed kindness and attention to student needs. But in a short time, Lanning has surpassed the previously complacent expectations of students and staff by striving to make the cafeteria experience at EU better than it has been in years. He accomplishes this not only by improving the quality, variety and presentation of the food, but by making a conscious effort to meet students on a daily basis where they are most open – in their dining room.
Lanning said he does not expect students to eat in the cafeteria day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year and love it without complaint. He said he understands how students would get sick of eating at their favorite restaurant in the same quantity, much less the cafeteria at school. This is why he has established a two-hour limit on most foods to ensure a precedent of freshness in every food item he serves. It is why he makes such an effort to create special food days to mix up the menu. And it’s why he walks around the cafeteria every school day talking to students, gaining valuable feedback – both positive and negative – and building relationships.
In the recent snowfall, Lanning took aim under the clock tower, science-class goggles over his eyes, lobbing snowballs at students, as though he was one of the kids. Perhaps Lanning has a job on campus with more opportunities to interact with the whole student body, but in our opinion, there are few faculty or staff members who meet Lanning’s level of effort in connecting with students. In many ways, the students know Lanning better than they know their administrators or campus spiritual leaders.
As a staff of students here at The Lance, we know firsthand what students want – relatable campus leadership who go out of their way to meet students daily on a personal level, just like Todd Lanning.
What do you think about Todd’s attitude and popularity?