In many ways, Sue Bracy’s career growth at Syracuse University Food Services parallels the growth of the department.
When she began her career at Syracuse University in August 1987, the department’s business footprint was tiny: just three cafes. She was hired to oversee the three cafes, never imagining how big the department would grow.
Over the next three decades, her career took her from those cafes to sales, to Kimmel’s food court, to the restaurant at the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center, to catering services, to the Goldstein Student Center and, finally, leading the opening of the sparkling new food court at the revamped Schine Student Center.
“You can’t spell Syracuse without SUE,” says Jon Webster, executive director of hospitality. “His fingerprints are all over our department and the University in an extremely positive and selfless way.”
Syracuse University Bracy’s roots run deep. His mother worked at the Carrier Dome for 25 years as an administrative assistant to then-manager Pat Campbell. His sister worked at Hendrick Chapel. Her family has had memberships for over 35 years and she is a proud graduate herself.
Bracy graduated from college in May 1986 with a major in child development and a minor in psychology. Although she acknowledges that a degree in child development doesn’t usually lead to a career in the restaurant business, Bracy worked at McDonald’s throughout college and actually earned 12 college credits through from Hamburger University, the company’s Chicago-based training program.
Once she started her career at Syracuse, her hard work and obvious leadership skills brought her more and more responsibilities. Bracy was promoted several times and finally took on the role of co-director of food services in 2016.
“I am often amazed at how Sue has managed to balance a genuine concern for employees while maintaining the University’s many policies and guidelines and adhering to the rules of our union contract,” says Michelle Schieder, co-steward head of the campus SEIU. the foodservice division, which worked alongside Bracy for most of his career. “She wore many hats and wore them well. She has managed a play in catering, the Dome, retail sales, catering centers and negotiations.
Facing the pandemic
There have been ups and downs in his 35 years. The fun came from catering special events and designing themed events and special parties for alumni. The stress was there too, especially running the food service department during a global pandemic. She and her team worked almost uninterrupted when Schine Dining reopened in the spring of 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her then co-director, Mark Tewksbury, will always remember her caring for Food Services staff at the uncertain start of the pandemic. Its employees were all designated essential workers who had to be on campus every day.
“I will never forget the long hours we sailed during the start of the pandemic,” Tewksbury said. “Sue’s concern for the safety of our team while maintaining service to students who remained on campus was immeasurable.”
“We didn’t have any written procedures on how to do this,” Bracy says. “It was just a lot of creative maneuvering. COVID was a constant learning experience, an experience where people were stepping out of their job descriptions just to get the job done.
These are the memories that will stay with her, she says. How hard the members of the food service department work. How much they care about the University and the people here.
“There are long-time employees here who are just awesome,” she says. “It’s the people who are the backbone of foodservice.”
Among his employees, Bracy’s guidance and willingness to lead are what they will cherish from his time in Syracuse.
“Under Sue’s guidance, I was able to maximize my skills as she constantly encouraged me to try new things,” says Keone Weigl, Foodservice Marketing Manager. “Her management style has given me the confidence to become the best version of myself and a better employee for Syracuse University. I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to work with Sue.
“Sue has always been tireless in her quest to let everyone around her know that she’s in the game with us,” says Catherine Brozaitis, Supervisor of Schine Dining. “Sue had such a strong and positive influence on so many people, and most consider her their mentor. Sue earned respect by the example she set for all of us.
Although her last official day at the University was at the end of February, she did not leave campus forever: she agreed to stay on as a temp to help the understaffed department recruit, hire and train new employees.
Getting away from the hectic day-to-day operations of the department allowed her to spend more time with her family, especially her elderly father. His influence will continue within the food services department, especially with its new chef, Webster.
“I wanted to help shape the future of Syracuse University foodservice with her,” Webster says. “I can’t imagine succeeding in this position without her guidance and guidance, and I wish her well as she moves into the next chapter of her life.”