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January 2015

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Mary Dawson
Dr. Dawson's New Role as Interim Academic Dean
Hilton College has been part of Dr. Mary Dawson’s life since she was a teenager. Her mother was a student here first. Dawson later followed suit, earning both her BS and MS at the College. She started teaching here in 1996, first as a lecturer, then an assistant professor and—as of last year—she earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor. Now, she’s taking on yet another role, this time as interim associate dean of academic programs. Dr. Dawson is a multi-tasker by nature. When she was working on her first two degrees, she was also working in restaurant management, first with McDonald’s and later with Pappas Restaurants. When she joined the College as a lecturer, she was pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. As an assistant professor, she balanced a full course load with an extensive amount of research for tenure. On top of that, she spent the past year participating in the University of Houston’s highly selective Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy. That’s where she realized that a role in administration—a combination of her skill sets as an academic and a restaurant manager—might be the perfect fit. As fate would have it, opportunity knocked. “I’m flattered to have the opportunity to take on this role—it means so much to me, especially as an alum,” she said. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Carl Boger, who transitioned from associate dean back to faculty in December to focus on his research, Dr. Dawson acknowledges that she has big shoes to fill. “Dr. Boger was able to accomplish so much in this position, and I just want to continue with that momentum to do what’s best for the College and our students,” she said. And of course, she’ll still be multi-tasking, teaching a class each semester and continuing her research while she fulfills her administrative duties. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Congrats, Dr. Dawson! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Congrats to the Fall Class of 2014!
We said goodbye and good luck to another awesome group of Hilton College graduates on December 19. Thirteen of those students received their Master of Science in Hospitality Management, and 166 earned their Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management. After the commencement ceremony at Hofheinz Pavilion, the newly-minted grads and their families returned to the College for a special reception in their honor. At the reception, five standout students were presented with awards. Lecturer Elizabeth Whalen presented the Alumni Award for Scholastic Excellence to two grad students: Sarilak Chutiprachakij (pictured bottom right with Dean John Bowen) and Mary Goodman (pictured center right with Whalen), and one undergrad, Qun Li (not pictured). Dean Bowen presented the coveted Dean’s Award, which is given each semester to two students who personified hospitality in all of their endeavors at the College. This time around, Martina Bahr (pictured top right with Dean Bowen) won for the undergraduates, and Alumni Award winner Chutiprachakij took home the hardware for grad students. Kudos to these honorees and the rest of the Fall Class of 2014! You’ve made your mark on Hilton College … now it’s time to take on the “real” world! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)
Check Out Our Digital Makeover!
Hilton College has a new look online! Our all-new, mobile-friendly website made its debut in December. Though we had to part with the sleek look of our previous design to align with the University of Houston’s official branding and website guidelines, we were able to streamline our navigation and content, and offer a site that’s easy to use on any smartphone or tablet! The site also features a new job bank for students, alumni and employers. Thanks to Gautam Taneja, our IT manager, and Taylor Wiley, our director of digital marketing and media relations, for all their hard work on this redesign. Because of their dedicated efforts and talent, all the work was done in-house, saving the College more than $60,000! We hope everyone enjoys the new site!
Alumni profile-Linda Hayden
Alumni Spotlight: Sharing the Spa Experience
When you go to a spa, you’re there for the experience. It’s all about taking a step back, calming down, relaxing and being healthy. Linda Hayden, a proud 2009 Hilton College graduate and manager of the Skyline Spa at the Hilton Americas-Houston, knows that better than anyone. In fact, she’s made a career out of it. “I really enjoy creating and sharing the whole ‘spa experience’ with our clients. We’re taking care of people. That’s what hospitality is all about,” she said. Hayden got her start in the industry when she was still a student, working part time in reception at the Four Seasons Houston spa. After graduation, she took a full-time job as a supervisor at Skyline, where she was mentored by then-manager and current Hilton College Lecturer Simone Doudna. Not too long after Doudna left to teach, Hayden was promoted to manager—quite a leap for such a recent graduate—and she hasn’t looked back. These days, she’s responsible for a staff of about 20 and oversees the operations of one of the best spas in town. Her secret to success? Make sure you enjoy what you do, and never stop networking. “If you have a passion for what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” Hayden said. “You should always treat others the way you want to be treated, and that’s especially true in hospitality. You’re always networking. You never know who you’ll meet and how that connection might affect your career, so you always have to put your best face forward.” Great advice from a young alum who’s out there making the College proud. (Photo: Taylor Wiley)