Magic Johnson makes another HBCU assist with Grambling deal

GSU strikes a deal with Johnson to renovate dining facility and provide food services

Courtesy: Grambling State University

GRAMBLING, LA — July 15, 2019 – Today, Grambling State University announced the launch of a long-term partnership with a new dining service provider SodexoMAGIC. The new agreement will deliver $6.7 million in facility renovations, new major-brand quick-serve restaurants, and 24-hour dining.

“The best part of our new program is that we, as students, are driving the design,” said Steven Wilson, rising senior and President of the University’s Student Government Association. “I’m grateful to President Gallot and the entire administration for how they’ve helped turn our comments, emails, and surveys into an experience that supports all of our students.”


The University’s partnership comes as a result of a collaborative RFP process where students, faculty, and staff weighed in on proposals from America’s leading dining service providers. The winning finalist, SodexoMAGIC, is well known for its chairman, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and its service to universities and corporate clients that include Delta Airlines, the Walt Disney Company, the Federal Reserve Bank, and Toyota.

“This agreement is a great example of what is possible when Universities put our students first,” said Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State. “We are fortunate to collaborate with a partner, like SodexoMAGIC who understands the holistic needs of our students.”

The partnership will include a two-year overhaul of campus dining facilities and the launch of new program features that include:

  • New menus overseen by Chef G. Garvin, nationally acclaimed TV host, author, and NAACP Image Award winner
  • A New mobile app feature for ordering takeout and made-to-order items
  • Allergen-friendly meal programs to support vegetarians and other specialized dietary needs.

The deal connects SodexoMAGIC and the University for a five-year partnership that will yield a $51 million return on investment and includes a five-year option to renew.

“We are proud to partner with the Grambling State community and excited about investing in the students,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson, NBA hall of famer and chairman of SodexoMAGIC. “My team is committed to providing excellent service that the Grambling students, staff, and community deserve so they can continue leading efforts to change the world in sports, technology, and in business.”


New Dining Program Brings Facility Renovations for Grambling State

As a part of the five-year partnership, Grambling State’s campus will receive $6.7 million in facility updates and additions that include:

  • A Steak & Shake food truck addition in early Fall 2019;
  • Renovations to the student union food court (Tiger Express);
  • The addition of national brands Chick-fil-a, Firehouse Subs, and Pizza Hut, to be completed November 2019;  
  • A full-scale renovation of McCall Dining Hall during the Summer of 2020; and 
  • The addition of a campus Starbucks planned for a 2021 opening.

“As we make history with our new library and academic programs, we know that our student experience has to match the same levels of excellence,” said Martin Lemelle, the University’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are excited about what this partnership means for students today and for the generations to come.”

Student Feedback Drives the Future of Grambling State Dining

Through a 12-month research effort, students, faculty, alumni, and staff collaborated in the vendor selection and program design for the future of Grambling State’s dining program. In addition to the formal RFP, the research included:

  • A meta-analysis of dining contracts throughout Louisiana and the Southeast;
  • Campus surveys that engaged more than 20 percent of students and faculty;
  • Student focus groups and weekly meetings led by the Student Government Association to assess the campus needs and capture ideas.

Key findings from the University’s research included:

  • 71% expressed interest in new major brand food options including Chick-fil-a as the #1 student choice
  • 69% of respondents requested increasing food variety
  • 56% of respondents suggested increasing dining service hours 
  • More than 50% of respondents shared that they participate in a specialized diet (e.g. keto, gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian)

In addition, the research and formal RFP evaluation engaged representatives from divisions across campus including: 

  •  Alvin Bradley, Director of Purchasing  
  •  Arshauna Candler, Student, Sports Management & Public Relations  
  •  Ashley Dabney, Student, Business Management & Marketing  
  •  Carnelia Barfield, Assistant Director of Housing & Residential Life   
  •  Casey Byrd, Management and Research Analyst, Strategic Management Services  
  •  Craig Jones, Director of Network Services   
  •  Frederick Carr, Director of Facilities Management   
  •  Gourjoine Wade, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students  
  •  Halana Miles, Purchasing Officer   
  •  Javonte White, Student, Criminal Justice   
  •  Jessica Clinton, Student, Visual and Performing Arts  
  •  Jovan Hackley, Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Marketing  
  •  LaJazzmond Pichon, Student, Mass Communications   
  • Martin Lemelle, Chief Operating Officer & Vice President of Finance   
  • Peggy Hanley, Associate Vice President of Information Technology  
  • Quaneshia Armstrong, College of Business Professor  
  • Rickenzie Johnikin, Student, Mass Communications & Miss Grambling 2019-2020 
  • Rudolph Ellis, Associate Dean of Students  
  • Sheilah Faucette, Associate Vice President for Finance  
  • Steven Wilson, Student, Biology  
  • Tanisha Cousby, Director of Campus Living & Residential Life   
  • Taryne Standifer, Business Services Manager & Tiger 1 Card 
Magic Johnson makes another HBCU assist with Grambling deal
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