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Hilton College Takes Top Honors at 23rd Annual Grad Conference

Hilton College swept the awards during the 23rd Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism, held Jan. 3-5 at Texas Tech University. It was the largest group of Hilton College grad students ever to attend this annual conference.  

During the awards dinner, the coveted Best Paper Research Award went to Assistant Professor Sujata Sirsat, Associate Professors Jay Neal and Juan Madera, Ph.D. candidate Heyao “Chandler” Yu and undergraduate Alberto Beiza. Their winning paper is titled “Three-level longitudinal analysis on the antecedents of distributive food safety training in restaurants.”

Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies Ki-Joon Back received the prestigious Michael D. Olsen Research Achievement Award. Dr. Back was given this honor for his focused, high-quality research and his commitment to graduate education and mentoring.

The Founder’s Award – the highest honor of the evening – went to Dean Dennis Reynolds. Dean Reynolds received this lifetime achievement award for his significant contributions to research, scholarship and development of graduate programs in hospitality and tourism.

To say our team represented us well is an understatement,” said Dean Reynolds of the 31 graduate students and faculty who attended the conference. “We undoubtedly have the best and brightest students as well as incredible faculty members who truly serve our students as mentors.”

On the heels of this year’s success, the conference will come back to Hilton College on Jan. 3-5, 2019. This will be the 10th time that the College will co-host the event with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management since it was founded in 1996 by PolyU’s Dean Kaye Chon when he was the graduate program director at Hilton College.

The conference provides a platform for the exchange of cutting-edge industry research, fosters networking and a healthy research culture, and serves as a career mart for graduate students completing their terminal degrees.

“We are looking forward to once again hosting this conference,” said Dr. Back, who is stepping back as chair – a role he has had since 2007 – and will serve as a resource to a new team. “Drs. Yoon Koh and Juan Madera will serve as co-chairs for our next conference and will be working with our students and planning committee to make this next conference our best yet.”

Congrats to our faculty and students on “bringing home the gold!”

(Story: Pearl Cajoles | Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Minwoo Lee)