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January 2014

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December Graduation
Congratulations, Graduates!
Another exceptional class of Hilton College grads grabbed their diplomas and set off to start their careers on December 20. This semester, 17 students received their Master of Science in Hospitality Management, and 123 earned their Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management. An impressive 48 students graduated with honors, and two students—one graduate, one undergrad—finished with a 4.0 GPA! 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, graduate student Hillary Davidson, pictured center right with Dean John Bowen, received the Dean’s Award, which is given each semester to a standout graduate who personifies hospitality in all of their endeavors at the College. She also won the Alumni Award for Scholastic Excellence for graduate students. The Alumni Award for Scholastic Excellence for undergraduates was presented to Sarah Rennalls, pictured center left, by lecturer Cathy Cheatham (’89). Best of luck to the Fall Class of 2013! You’ve made your mark on Hilton College … now it’s time to take on the “real” world! (Photos: Taylor Wiley & Michael Scott)
Graduate Conference
Hilton College Hosts 19th Annual Hospitality Grad Conference
Hundreds of graduate students, faculty and hospitality scholars kicked off 2014 on an academic high note during the 19th Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism, co-hosted January 3-5 at UH by Hilton College and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The conference, which was launched at the College in 1996, gives both master’s and doctoral candidates the opportunity to present their research and network with fellow scholars from all over the world. More than 300 people registered for the 2014 conference, which included more than 130 stand-up research presentations and more than 140 poster research presentations. Thirteen current and former Hilton College graduate students—Xiaoye Li, Yidong Zhang, Morgan Atwood, Linan Liu, Ruiliang Zhang, Andrew Hartley, Marian Potter, Jaewook Kim (MS ’11), Shawn Kuehn, Yingyoung Rhou (MS ’12), Jingjianxiong Shi, Daehan Cha and Jookyung Kwon—were among the presenters. Dozens of Hilton College graduate students and staff volunteered to work the conference, and many faculty members—including Drs. Jason Draper, Agnes DeFranco, Jay Neal, Mary Dawson, Priyanko Guchait, Cristian Morosan, Yoon Koh, Nan Hua, Juan Madera and Chris Taylor; lecturer Arlene Ramirez and Associate Dean Carl Boger—served as moderators for the informational sessions. The 2015 conference will be held January 8-10 at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Hilton College will host it again in 2017. Kudos to Graduate Program Director Dr. Ki-Joon Back, Dr. Boger, our grad students and all the others involved in this important academic opportunity! (Photos: Dr. Ken Tsai)
Conrad N. Hilton College Lima
First Class Graduates From Conrad N. Hilton College–Lima
A scholastic journey that began in Peru ended right here in the Lone Star State on December 20 as the first class of graduates from the Conrad N. Hilton College–Lima received degrees from the University of Houston. Ten of the 13 members of the class and their families were able to make the trip to the Bayou City for the ceremony. The Conrad N. Hilton College–Lima, an international academic partnership between Hilton College and the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL)—allows hospitality students in Peru to apply for admission to Hilton College after their second year of study at USIL. Once admitted, the students spend the next two years completing UH’s curriculum for a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management, with all of their courses taught by UH faculty. “The Conrad N. Hilton College–Lima is an important program in our goal of expanding to other regions, giving students who cannot come to Houston access to a degree from UH. It’s an excellent opportunity for aspiring hospitality professionals in South America,” Dean John Bowen said. Of the 13 graduates, at least six already had job offers awaiting them when they walked across the stage. “This was the culmination of nearly three years of work by multiple departments at UH and USIL, and it was well worth the effort. We couldn’t be more proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Lydia Westbrook (MHM ’00), Hilton College’s director of international & external programs. Congratulations to this inaugural class, and special thanks to Lydia for all her work to make this exciting milestone a success! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Lisa Welch
Alumni Spotlight: Lisa Welch Brings Energy to The Joule
When it comes to hotels in Dallas, The Joule stands out. A luxury, boutique-style property in the heart of downtown, The Joule prides itself on being “exactly like nowhere else,” with eye-popping décor, an experienced and approachable staff and a service-oriented culture. As The Joule’s director of human resources, Hilton College alum Lisa Welch (’93) is the keeper of that culture. She oversees hiring for all of the hotel’s departments, mentors staff members and works to keep service standards consistent throughout the property. When she’s off-site, Welch spends her time networking with local and state hospitality educators to market The Joule as a luxury urban destination, and she’s constantly on the hunt for new talent. “First and foremost, I look for experience—you have to be out there working in the industry. So for students, getting internships and having hospitality jobs while they’re in school is very important,” Welch said. Before she joined The Joule, Welch owned and operated her own hospitality-recruiting company and worked in training and recruiting capacities for some of the biggest names in the lodging industry, including Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, and Omni Hotels & Resorts. But no matter where her career has taken her, Welch has always kept Hilton College close to her heart—and not just because she and her husband met as students in Foods II. She returns here every semester for Career Fair and welcomes the opportunity to mentor future hospitality professionals. Thank you, Lisa—you make Hilton College proud! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Sean Beck Fred Parks Lecture Series
Vintage Education From Master Sommeliers
Each fall, up to 50 Hilton College students, faculty and alumni earn their level-one sommelier certification completely free of charge, thanks to the Guild of Sommeliers. The Guild is the philanthropic arm of the Court of Master Sommeliers, which is one of the most prestigious wine organizations in the world. They’re dedicated to educating beverage professionals and consumers about wine. The Guild gives back to the community by offering their level-one sommelier certification course—which normally costs about $550 per person—free of charge to Hilton College students, faculty and alumni each fall. In the sommelier world, there are four levels of certification: level one (intro); level two (certified sommelier); level three (advanced sommelier) and level four (master sommelier). There are only about 180 master sommeliers in the world, six of whom live in Texas. Two of those experts—Guy Stout and Devon Broglie—led the 2013 course at Hilton College, with two advanced sommeliers assisting. The level-one course is not for beginners; it’s an intense, two-day review of wine regions, service and tasting, punctuated by the level-one exam. The Guild only conducts the free classes at a handful of beverage programs in the U.S., and Hilton College is fortunate to be one of them. Participants who pass the class are officially deemed capable of discussing, buying and serving wine with skill. Coming from the Guild, that’s quite an endorsement! As for the fate of the 45 students in the 2013 class, more than 90 percent of them passed. Cheers to that, and thanks to the Guild for providing this incredible opportunity! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)