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Belmont Honors ‘Bun Lady’ Cordia Harrington with Dining Hall Naming

University Trustee celebrated at unveiling of Harrington Place Dining

In a ceremony held today, Belmont University unveiled a plaque honoring Nashville business executive and Belmont Trustee Cordia Harrington in the newly named Harrington Place Dining, a 950-seat cafeteria that fills the second floor in the new R. Milton and Denice Johnson Center that opened last fall. Harrington is being honored for her longtime support for, and generosity to, the University.

“Cordia and her husband, Tom, built a thriving, multi-million dollar manufacturing empire—following an entrepreneurial career in food service and real estate—founded on the $587 she had in her pocket as a 28-year-old launching her first business,” said Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher. “She has been locally and nationally recognized for her business acumen and community involvement, but what makes her story great is how her resourceful spirit led her from one stepping stone of success to the next, overcoming every obstacle in her path. She’s a tremendous friend to Belmont, and I believe a true inspiration for our students.”

Harrington said, “The success of our family’s businesses over the years is a testament to the power of unwavering optimism, a tireless work ethic and perseverance that just doesn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. I believe these values are central to any entrepreneurial effort, and these are also attributes I’ve long witnessed in how Belmont University approaches its students’ education. What’s more, this University instills those qualities on a firm foundation of faith. I am honored that Belmont has chosen to name Harrington Place Dining in my honor, reflecting all we have in common, and I hope my story can be an encouragement to young men and women starting their own career journeys.”

Harrington’s dedication to Belmont and its students is apparent through her role on the Belmont University Board of Trustees Executive Committee and her establishment several years ago of “The Bun Lady Scholarship,” which is awarded annually to entrepreneurship students who are participating in Belmont’s study abroad programs. More recently, she added the “Harrington Scholarship for International Studies and Student Missions,” which provides need-based scholarship support for students incurring expenses related to international studies or Belmont-sanctioned mission trips. Additionally, Harrington is a frequent guest speaker in both graduate and undergraduate business classes, and two of her and husband Tom’s five children—Hunter and Tyler Wilkinson—are graduates of Belmont.

Harrington is founder and CEO of the The Bakery Cos. which laterally integrated business units include transportation and cold storage companies and grew sales from $4.8 million to more than $100 million. In addition to Cordia and Tom, sons Hunter, Brad and Tyler Wilkinson along with daughter Beth Westjohn are all involved in the family business. Active in the community, Harrington serves on several boards including Bank of Nashville, American Bakers Association, Nashville Entrepreneur Center and Zoës Kitchen, and also supports 17 Ronald McDonald House Charities. Harrington’s vast achievements have brought significant recognition, including receiving McDonald’s Corp. Leadership Award (2014), Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO (2015) and Beta Gamma Sigma Entrepreneur of the Year (2012), among numerous other awards.

Harrington Place Dining nearly triples the seating capacity of the former dining hall with seating space that is segmented into three distinctively themed areas to provide student diners a variety of experiences—formal, BBQ/casual and urban contemporary—each with their own décor, furniture and lighting. The space features numerous options and stations, including:

  • Vegan/vegetarian serving line
  • Brick oven pizza bar with in-house, fresh made dough
  • Weekly homemade pasta bar
  • 360 degree grill in the international station
  • Two salad bars
  • Deli station offering custom-made sandwiches as well as Grab ‘N Go sandwich selections
  • Simple Servings allergy free station with individualized cooking to order to ensure against cross-contamination
  • Full bakery
  • Waffle bar
  • Simply to Go meals
  • Traditional entrée and vegetable serving line
  • Grill station
  • The Granary with a large selection of self-service breads and cereals
  • The Kaye and Ron Knox Balcony providing outdoor seating for up to 45 that overlooks the expansive campus Lawn