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Portrait Gallery: Ken Botts, Dining Services

Ken BottsKen Botts serves as manager of special projects for Dining Services, which has brought some innovative changes to campus – vegan and Southern food, mobile food servers and others.

What are your responsibilities?

I have the pleasure of directing a very talented team of professionals and students who work to make sure that Dining Services looks and operates as good as the food tastes in all of our locations. My team is responsible for communicating the benefits of having a meal plan to our students, developing new dining concepts, marketing and communicating dining service activities and supporting the day-to-day operations.

What is your academic and professional background?

I have been in food service for over 30 years. Started out as a dishwasher at the age of 15. I have managed, trained, opened, closed and owned restaurants. Most of my experience is with retail food service but for the last 10 years of my career I have been a special projects manager. I have a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in organizational management. Both of my degrees are from the University of Phoenix.

Where is your hometown?

I was born in Chicago, grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and moved to Denton County in 2005.

When did you join UNT?

I have called UNT my work home since 2005 but didn’t officially show up on the UNT roster until 2009 – I worked with the previous food service contractor on campus from 2005-2009.

What made you pursue a career in food service?

When I turned 15 my mom encouraged me to work in food service. She said, “You will always have a job if you work in food service because people always have to eat.”  Mom was correct. I also have a passion for service to others and what a better way to do this than by helping serve food to our amazing campus population.

What do you like best about your job?

My day to day interaction with the students. I enjoy dining with them, working with them and watching them come to UNT with hopes and dreams and getting to share, learn and add value to their life experience makes my day complete.

How did Dining Services come up with the idea for vegan, comfort and other foods?

There ideas all come from the students we serve. From there we take direction from our fearless leader, Bill McNeace, executive director for dining services. We are blessed to have a very talented team and everyone shares in the development of anything we do. It takes all hands on deck to make a restaurant concept happen. Culinary staff create the menus, graphics team creates the images, marketing team gets the word out and then we hand it all over to the operations staff and they make it pop.

What do you do in your free time?

Cooking for my wife Lori, playing with my cats and dogs, road trips to random small towns, local politics and volunteer work. I am involved with various animal rights and vegan meetup groups in North Texas. I recently started a home pet-sitting business for my wife and help her with that on the weekends.

Tell us about your family.

I have two sisters, one brother and my mom, who lives in Southern California where I grew up. I gave up my SoCal surfboard for a North Texas cowboy hat when my son went into the Navy after high school. He lives in Washington State and recently made me a proud grandpa. About two years ago, I met the love of my life Lori. We were married and live in Little Elm with our dogs Lexus and Chelsea, and our cats Maggie, Audrey and Darcy.

Posted on: Thu 12 April 2012