Oklahoma Christian University elevates cuisine in higher education
Oklahoma Christian University opened the doors to The Branch, a new cafeteria that elevates the quality of food served and features an all new menu in a space flooded with natural light. Students have highly anticipated the upgrade in dining.
“It’s always nice to have good food, but adding a view makes me want to come here earlier,” said sophomore Amelia Stanford.
Typically, Amelia grabbed something for breakfast on her way to class. Today she ate eggs and veggies at a table with friends and waved to other classmates as they walked outside by the windows.
A freshman entering college, who graduates in four years, will eat about 2,880 meals during that time. Families rarely consider the quality of a campus cafeteria when selecting a university although nutrition affects each student’s health and academic performance. The important role of food in a university student’s life has been President of UDining Kurt Hermanson’s primary focus for 40 years.
“This new cafeteria sets the standard for culinary excellence in higher education,” said Hermanson. “Our staff interacts with students more than anyone else on campus. We see them multiple times a day and have opportunities to know them individually and impact their life. We serve high quality, nourishing food and create a space for them to develop community around a dining table.”
Hermanson launched fund raising in 2015, when he donated $1 million earmarked for the dining facility. Harry and Brenda Patterson, Richard and Pat Lawson, Mark and Beth Brewer, Benton and Paula Baugh, the Gaylord and Mabee foundations and many other friends of the university made it possible to build the new kitchen and dining space without using any tuition revenue. However, a major gift from a former OC President and First Lady, Alfred and Judy Branch inspired the name.
‘The Branch’ continues a long history of generosity from the Branches to the university. The new name was revealed at a pre-opening dinner where Alfred Branch reflected on colleagues and mentors from whom he learned generosity.
“Giving is a blessing we should all experience and something I’m intentionally teaching my children. For us, it must be something important, something we can create a passion around and something that impacts the community and the kingdom of God,” said Alfred Branch.
OC worked with trusted contractors and vendors who have a history with university building projects. GSB Architects designed the vibrant new space that was built by Smith and Pickel Construction. Ricca Designs planned the kitchen flow that is outfitted by Oswalt Restaurant Supply. The modern sitting arrangements came from Copeline’s Contract Furniture. Other key contributors include Basement Contractors and Newman Development.
Oklahoma Christian University is a higher learning community transforming lives for Christian faith, scholarship and service with a 14-to-1 student teacher ratio. The 200 acre campus houses a student body of 2,250 who consumed 91,000 eggs, 30,800 apples, 600 gallons of Ranch dressing and 85,000 cookies in the last academic year. Located at 2501 East Memorial Road, OC is home to ambitious progress.