From Transactional to Transformational

Drexel University and Aramark Collaborate on Mission


  • Jennifer Britton Drexel University
  • Jami Leveen Aramark
  • Don Liberati Drexel University
  • Anna D'Isidoro Drexel University



anchor strategy, enterprise stability, procurement, auxiliary services


This analysis of the supplier relationship between Drexel University and Aramark offers a demonstration of the potential for intensifying an anchor institution’s local economic inclusion strategies by leveraging the economic power of supplier partnerships. The operation of a major food service contract represents a substantial set of campus jobs and procurement, but this economic activity often remains outside the remit of economic inclusion efforts when the institution has no contractual influence over it. When an anchor institution can partner with a major supplier that shares a commitment to community impact, it offers opportunities to strengthen an anchor strategy. This article describes how Drexel University and Aramark used their campus food service relationship to deepen Drexel’s anchor mission and core strategic priorities and Aramark’s enterprise sustainability agenda, including the value of the negotiation process, and a set of outcomes in the form of initiatives in food insecurity, local economic inclusion and community engagement, research and technology transfer, and student co-op employment. Both the relationship building process and its outcomes offer a model for other institutions as they look to leverage the untapped economic activity of the major service suppliers.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Britton, Drexel University

Jennifer Britton is the Director of Communications and Special Projects with Drexel University’s Office of University & Community Partnerships. She is part of the team that coordinates and shapes Drexel’s civic engagement and anchor missions. Jen leads Drexel’s participation in the Anchor Learning Network with CUMU and the Democracy Collaborative, and as UCP’s storyteller she shares Drexel’s anchor work with a range of audiences in higher education.

Jami Leveen, Aramark

Jami Leveen is Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships for Aramark. She handles communications and key collaborations with organizations that enhance the company brand, drive business outcomes and align with Aramark’s enterprise sustainability vision. Jami coordinates initiatives that enable the wellbeing of millions and create access to opportunities. Her work aligns with the organization’s sustainability plan to enable people to prosper on a healthy planet for generations to come.


Don Liberati, Drexel University

Don Liberati, Assistant Vice President for Drexel Business Services, leads Drexel University’s Business Services Department, overseeing contracts and partnerships for campus dining, bookstores, vending and mailing as well as the operation of the identification card program, and parking. Don oversaw the procurement and onboarding of the food service provider agreement with Aramark in 2016 and continues to be Drexel’s primary point of contact for the relationship today.

Anna D'Isidoro, Drexel University

Anna D'Isidoro is a graduate of Drexel University's Environmental Studies program, with particular interests in public health, public policy and food security. Anna currently works with Drexel’s Office of University & Community Partnerships and is an active member of the Philadelphia area sustainable food systems community. 


Birch, et al. Universities as anchor institutions. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17(3), 7-16. 2013.

Bowen, H.R. Social responsibilities of the businessman. New York: Harper-Row. 1953.

Centre for Local Economic Strategies and Democracy Collaborative. Health institutions as anchors: Establishing proof of concept in the NHS. August 21, 2019.

Chinn, Deborah. Critical health literacy: A review and critical analysis. Social Science & Medicine. 73(1), 60-67. July 2011. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.04.004

Clarke, Brian. Anchor Institutions: The Economic Benefits of Putting Community First. Communities & Banking; Boston 28(2), 12-13. Spring 2017.

DiversityInc. (n.d.). The 2019 DiversityInc top 50 companies for diversity. Retrieved from

Drexel University Office of University and Community Partnerships. (n.d). What is civic engagement? Civic engagement is at the heart of our mission as a university.

Retrieved from

Fry, John A. (October 5, 2010) Drexel convocation: remarks by President John A. Fry. Retrieved from

Fortune. (n.d.). World’s most admired companies. Retrieved from

Harkavy, Ira. Engaging Urban Universities as Anchor Institutions for Health Equity. American Journal of Public Health. 106(12), 2155-2157. December 2016.

Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Best places to work 2019. Retrieved from

Jain, et al. Select supplier-related issues in modeling a dynamic supply chain: potential, challenges and direction for future research. International Journal of Production Research, 47 (11), 3013-3039. 2009.

Payne-Sturges, D., Tjaden, A., & Caldeira, K. (2017). Student hunger on campus: Food insecurity among college students and implications for academic institutions. American Journal of Health Promotion 32(2), 349-354. Doi: 10.1177/0890117117719620

Peterson, Paige. The 3 Pillars of Corporate Social Responsibility: Clients, People, and Community. HMC Sales, Marketing and Alliances Excellence Essentials. October 2019.

Rodriquez-Lopez, et al. Exploring quality generating factors in customer-supplier relationships. Gospodarka Surowcami Mineralnymi—Mineral Resources Management 33(4), 157-176. 2017.

Sayed, et al. Institutional complexity and sustainable supply chain management practices. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. 22(6), 542-563. 2007.

Sharing Excess. (n.d.). Our story. Retrieved from

Snyder, David V. The New Social Contracts in International Supply Chains. American University Law Review. 68(1869). 2019.

Thomas-EL, Shawnna Laureen. “In My Neighborhood, But Not for Me”: Long-Standing African American Residents’ Perceptions of Gentrification, Anchor Institution Expansion and the Paradox of Civic Engagement. Drexel University. May 2019.

Walton, C. C. Corporate social responsibilities. Belmont: Wadsworth Press. 1967.