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March 2014

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Jim Wortman
Gaming Guru Jim Wortman to Retire
After 18 outstanding years at Hilton College, lecturer Jim Wortman—our resident gaming guru—is cashing in his chips and heading into retirement at the end of this semester. Wortman initially joined the College to establish our casino management program, but his contributions extend far beyond that area of expertise. A native New Yorker, Wortman was a teacher before he was recruited into Atlantic City’s gaming industry, where he made many of the contacts that still benefit our students today. Since he arrived at the College, he’s taken students on countless trips to France, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Mississippi and taught five different courses—everything from Introduction to Hospitality, to Casino/Gaming, to Practicum. Now, Wortman says he’s looking forward to relaxing, spending time with his family and watching his former students succeed. “The biggest thing for me at this point is the success of my students,” Wortman said. “I love hearing about it and seeing how their educational experiences have shaped their careers. I’d also like to thank Dean Bowen for his leadership, my fellow faculty members for always being collegial and collaborative, and all of the staff for being so professional and supportive in everything they do. This is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.” Dean John Bowen said though Wortman’s retirement is well-deserved, he’ll be sorely missed by everyone here. “He has truly contributed to the success of so many of our students over the last 18 years, and they hold him in high regard. We all wish him the best and ask him not to be a stranger,” Bowen said. Thanks for everything, Mr. Wortman … Hilton College hit the jackpot with you! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Graham Bowcher
Alamo City Chief: Meet Dr. Graham Bowcher
Hilton College is making a home in the “Tourism Capital of Texas,” and we couldn’t be more excited about the man who’ll be leading that effort: Dr. Graham Bowcher. As assistant dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College – San Antonio, Bowcher is responsible for launching the new program, with classes set to begin in the fall of 2014. Through a partnership with St. Philip’s College—the city’s premier provider of associate-degree programs in hospitality management, hotel management, restaurant management and culinary arts—students who’ve already completed their core courses will be able to apply to the Conrad N. Hilton College – San Antonio to take their upper-division hospitality courses and fulfill the degree requirements for a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston. “I am both excited and delighted at the opportunity to help in the establishment of the Conrad N. Hilton College – San Antonio. The warm welcome I’ve received from our partners at St. Philip’s College, the industry and our prospective students has demonstrated an enthusiastic anticipation for our arrival and highlighted the strength of Hilton College’s reputation as one of the top hospitality programs in the world,” Bowcher said. A native of Weymouth, Dorset, Bowcher got his start in the British hotel industry, focusing on both food & beverage and human resource management. In 2000, he came to the States and began teaching hospitality courses at multiple colleges and universities in Florida, eventually becoming the department head for the hospitality management program at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. With such varied experience in both industry and academia, Bowcher is the ideal person to make our campus in San Antonio a reality. Meanwhile, he and his wife, Muthoni—a pediatrician—are looking forward to their first Texas summer. Not sure how they’ll feel about that come August, but we’re thrilled they’re here! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Career Fair
Now Hiring: College Hosts Record-Breaking Career Fair
What do you get when you bring 193 hospitality recruiters representing 69 different companies and businesses and hundreds of the nation’s top hospitality students together under one roof? You get the biggest, best and most successful Career Fair in Hilton College history! The Spring 2014 Career Fair, hosted at the Hilton University of Houston on February 20, was a record-breaking success, and none of it would have happened without the hard work of Director of Career Development & Placement Lori Osborn (pictured center right) and Career Counselor Colleen Gleeson (center left). Together, Osborn, who joined the Hilton College team in October of 2012, and Gleeson, who came onboard in November of 2013, brought recruiters from all sectors of the industry here to hire our students—from big-name corporations to boutique businesses and everything in between. After the fair and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker Lisa Hopkins, president of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), 18 companies stayed at the College for 89 private interviews with our students and alumni. Congratulations to the “wonder women” of our outstanding Career Development & Placement Office, their graduate assistant, Martin Luk, and the more than 50 student volunteers who participated in this year’s fair on yet another job well done! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)
Matt Chan
Alumni Spotlight: Forging a Career in Beer
These days, craft beer is big business, and nobody knows that better than Matt Chan (MS ‘12). As the craft brand manager for Silver Eagle Distributors, Chan spends his days teaching other people all about beer—the local craft breweries, the latest trends, how to describe different beers and, most importantly, how to sell up-and-coming brands like Saint Arnold, Karbach, and Fort Bend Brewery in both bar and retail settings. But how does a guy who initially thought he’d work in finance end up as an expert on all things ale? The right education, a little luck and some good old-fashioned initiative! It started when he enrolled at Hilton College to get his master’s. He took a part-time job with Houston Wine Merchant, discovered the College’s beverage-management courses and obtained his level-one sommelier certification. After that, it was beverage industry or bust. When he graduated, he joined the wine and beer staff at Central Market in Austin and noticed an opportunity with craft beers. Chan took it upon himself to learn everything he could about them—about the different brewers, their styles and how to pair those beers with food. He even went for his level-one Cicerone certification, which is basically a sommelier for beer. Armed with that knowledge, he spoke to a Silver Eagle brand manager on a random visit to the Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston. The manager was impressed with Chan and mentioned that Silver Eagle would be hiring a craft brand manager for the Rosenberg branch, which covers southwest Houston. Once that job opened up a few months later, Chan was their man … and the rest is history. These days, Chan is a happy guy. He’s got a great job doing what he loves, and there’s nothing but opportunity ahead. His advice for someone else interested in a career in craft beer? Jump into the industry right away! The sooner you can start getting experience, the better, because you never know when the right opportunity will come knocking. Cheers to you, Matt! You make Hilton College proud! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Wyndham Mixology
Mixology Masters: Students Create Cocktails for Wyndham
Students in Dr. Glenn Cordúa’s Elements of Mixology class recently put his teachings to the test at the Wyndham Houston West Energy Corridor, creating craft cocktails for the newly-renovated hotel’s Ten Bar & Lounge. The drinks were rated by a panel of judges, and three of the cocktails—Jeremy House’s “Kiss My Fireball,” a tangy concoction of whiskey, cranberry and sour apple; Jessica Almeida’s “Texas Rose,” a gin martini with grapefruit juice and sparkling rose wine; and Laryssa Kruijs’ “Smashed Apple,” a unique twist on the traditional apple martini with spice rum, cinnamon, vodka and apple cider—were chosen for the bar’s new specialty cocktail menu. One dollar from every specialty cocktail sold will benefit the College. While these student mixologists definitely needed to know their way around a shaker, this was about more than just mixing drinks. “The students weren’t just asked to create cocktails in a classroom, but rather to lay the groundwork for a new beverage program with offerings that needed to complement the upscale sports bar format, mesh with staffing and product parameters and resonate with existing hotel audiences, while still allowing for opportunities to expand the clientele,” Cordúa said. Cordúa said the hope is to continue this partnership with the Wyndham, rotating new specialty cocktails crafted by Hilton College students onto the menu each semester. We’ll drink to that! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)