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June 2013

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David Robinson
‘The Admiral’ Launches New Hospitality Scholars Program
NBA legend David Robinson came to Hilton College to launch a new program aimed at recruiting future hospitality scholars from Houston-area high schools. The program, Admiral Hospitality Scholars (AHS), is supported by Hilton Worldwide, American Liberty Hospitality, the College and Admiral Capital Group, a national real-estate investment fund co-founded by Robinson. The inaugural AHS class and their families met with Robinson at a reception at the Hilton University of Houston on May 20, where the teens received autographed basketballs, shirts and leather portfolios. To kick off the program, the students will participate in a three-day hospitality camp at Hilton College in July. Each student will then be matched with a personal mentor from the hospitality industry and complete a one-year internship at a local Hilton-branded property managed by American Liberty Hospitality, a company led by Hilton College alum Nick Massad (’73). When the students graduate from high school, they’ll receive financial support toward a hospitality degree. Robinson decided to launch the program in Houston after partnering with Massad and American Liberty Hospitality to acquire the Hilton Garden Inn Energy Corridor, which will be one of the first properties to provide internships to AHS participants. Robinson said he hopes to expand the AHS program to other areas in the future. (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Las Vegas Experience
Vegas Uncovered: Insider’s Tour of ‘Casino Capital’
Around here, nobody knows the gaming industry—or enjoys showing students the ropes—like Professor Jim Wortman. That’s why students have scrambled to be included in Wortman’s Las Vegas Experience class for 17 years. This year was no exception. Wortman, Dean John Bowen and 18 students made the trip to Sin City May 12-16 to get a behind-the-scenes look at the casino capital of the United States. The students stayed at Aria and went on private, front- and back-of-house tours of that facility, plus Golden Nugget, Caesar’s Palace, Wynn Las Vegas, Paris and Four Seasons Las Vegas—the only property they visited without a casino. Many Hilton College alumni who work in Vegas were involved in the tours and were able to give the students an unparalleled glimpse into the day-to-day operations at some of the world’s largest resort properties. Wortman and Bowen enjoyed a special private breakfast with Eric Hilton, and then the students got a chance to give back to the city that treated them so well by volunteering at Three Square, a local food bank founded by Hilton. The students put together 1,200 frozen dinners, wowing the staff at Three Square with their professionalism and work ethic. When they returned to Houston, the students wrote papers about what they learned and earned two credit hours toward their degrees. Not a bad way to spend five days in the desert, is it?
California Wine Experience
Coogs Head West for a California Wine Experience
It’s one thing to learn about wine in a classroom in Texas, but it’s something else entirely to learn about the nation’s most famous wine-producing region firsthand from the very people who make it happen. Eleven Hilton College students, accompanied by Wine Appreciation Lecturer Kevin Simon, did just that in May as part of Simon’s three-credit-hour course, the California Wine Experience. Each year, Simon takes no more than 14 students on a once-in-a-lifetime, guided trip to the Napa and Sonoma wine country, where they learn about the California wine industry and viticulture from the local experts and sample their way through wineries large and small. Over eight days, the group visited nine wineries, where they toured facilities, tasted varietals and took plenty of notes. They also had the chance to stop by the Culinary Institute of America—Greystone, where they were treated to a special lecture from Master Sommelier Robert Bath and got a peek at the Institute’s state-of-the-art wine sensory lab. But it wasn’t all fun and grapes. When they returned to Houston, the students had to write research papers about their whirlwind trip. It was an action-packed agenda, but the students and Simon enjoyed every minute. And—as always—they represented Hilton College in vintage form.
Restaurant Marketing Chicago Style

Students Dive Into Windy City Restaurant Scene
May was a month for road trips! In addition to trips to Las Vegas and California, 19 students enjoyed a whirlwind tour of the “Second City’s” bustling restaurant industry May 16-21, visiting culinary hot spots, sampling delicious dishes and attending the 2013 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show in Chicago. It was all part of a one-hour course—Restaurant Marketing, Chicago-Style—taught by Dr. Mary Dawson. The six-day trip was packed with activities. When the students got settled, they split into two groups and embarked on separate food tours, one with Dr. Dawson and one with Jeremy Dafoe, undergraduate academic advisor. Dawson’s tour focused on the Bucktown and Wicker Park areas, and Dafoe’s centered around the more traditional stops in Chicago proper. The students also attended the NRA Show, where they staffed a Hilton College booth, rubbed elbows with celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain (pictured above on the bottom left with three lucky Coogs) and attended educational seminars. The whole experience had a social media component, too—the students communicated with Dawson, Dafoe and each other through a Facebook group page created specifically for the trip. Hyatt, Sodexo, Ecolab and Marriott hosted a special hiring reception for all of the hospitality students in town for the NRA Show, which was also a great networking opportunity. And before they left town, the group enjoyed a private dinner hosted by Uncle Julio’s, where they got the chance to meet with a recruiter and tour the restaurant. It’s OK … we’re a little jealous, too!

George Hall

Remembering George Hall
George Hall, a frequent guest at the Hilton University of Houston who founded a scholarship endowment at Hilton College, passed away on June 12 at the age of 88. Pictured above at Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor 2009 with his wife, Myra Jane, Hall was a fixture on campus and a Cougar through and through. An energetic man with a contagious love of life and “can-do” attitude, Hall returned to pursue a graduate degree at the UH Cullen College of Engineering in his 80s and became a supporter of Hilton College after his experience riding out Hurricane Ike at our hotel. He said he was “blown away” by the quality of the service he received during the storm, and quickly became a familiar face at the College’s events, like Gourmet Night and Hall of Honor. Hall got to know many of our students, faculty and staff during his time at UH because he often stayed at the hotel after his evening classes, rather than driving home in the dark. Soon after Ike, the Halls generously established a scholarship endowment for Hilton College students through the UH Foundation. He was an original and will be dearly missed. (Photo: Michael Scott)