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November 2014


Remembering Mr. Wortman
The Hilton College family has lost a dear friend. We're sad to report that Jim Wortman, recently-retired casino and gaming guru and one of the most-loved educators to ever teach at the College, passed away suddenly on Thursday, November 13. He was 74. Jim initially joined our faculty to establish our casino management program, but his contributions extended far beyond that area of expertise. A native New Yorker famous for his seemingly endless industry contacts and larger-than-life personality, Jim impacted the lives and careers of countless students in his 18-year tenure at the College, teaching five different courses and taking student groups on educational trips to France, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Mississippi. "Jim always put his students first and was often mentioned as one of their favorite instructors. He and I shared many experiences over the past 18 years, and I will miss him terribly. He was truly one of a kind and made an incredible impact on the College and its students. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by us all," Dean John Bowen said. Please join us in extending condolences to Jim's wife, Janet, and the rest of his family. We love you, Mr. Wortman! (Photo: Michael Scott)
State-of-the-Art Beverage Lab Makes Its Debut
Thanks to the generosity of the Rydman family and the Spec's Charitable Foundation, Hilton College is enjoying its new, state-of-the-art Spec's Beverage & Food Appreciation Laboratory. This $750,000 facility, a major renovation of the old demo kitchen space, seats up to 65 people for wine appreciation classes or industry training and is the only one of its kind in the region. LindyJohn and Lisa Rydman of Spec's Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, pictured left to right, were all on hand for a special grand opening reception at the lab on October 29. At the event, the Rydmans were recognized for their contributions and had the opportunity to tour this outstanding educational facility. The lab features individual sinks, natural light and back-lit white boards to evaluate a wine's color. "It represents a huge commitment to our beverage program. We'll now have an opportunity to make a national and global impact within the booming beverage industry and have preeminent status as a leader in beverage-management education," said Dr. Chris Taylor, director of the Beverage Management Program and the Fred Parks Wine Cellar. The lab's multi-purpose design also allows it to be used in the sensory evaluation of food and other beverages, like distilled spirits and coffee. We can't thank Spec's and the Rydmans enough for their support of the College and our expanded Beverage Management Program! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Alumni Hall Gets a Major Facelift
Up until this year, Alumni Hall—the College's largest classroom at 141 seats—hadn't had a facelift since it was built in 1989. But now, because of the collective efforts of the Eric Hilton Distinguished Alumni Club, this room has undergone a much-needed renovation! Designed by Brave Architecture, this $500,000 remodel was initiated by Eric's Club member Dorothy Nicholson ('77), who led the fundraising campaign. As part of their funding plan, Eric's Club members opted to include a gallery wall inside the classroom to honor some of the College's most iconic educators and leaders. They agreed on six—Dean James C. TaylorAssociate Dean Donald GreenawayDr. Clinton L. RappoleDr. Douglas C. KeisterCoach Don Smithand Dean John Bowen. The College then commissioned internationally renowned and award-winning artist Kenneth R. Turner to create portraits of each of the honorees. The portraits were hung in elegant shadowboxes on the gallery wall, designed by staff senior graphic designerKatie Guidroz. On November 5, three of the gallery wall honorees, their families, faculty, staff and friends of the College gathered for a grand opening reception, at which the portraits were officially revealed. Thanks to Eric's Club for working to make Alumni Hall a fitting tribute to our proud graduates. (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Chef Alain Ducasse Inducted Into Hospitality Hall of Honor 
On Oct. 22, Hilton College, along with some of Houston's top culinary talents, honored Chef Alain Ducasse at the 19th Annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor induction ceremony and dinner at the Hilton University of Houston. Wolf Hengst, executive chairman of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and a board member of Ducasse Enterprise, accepted the honors on the chef's behalf. This year, in a nod to Ducasse's culinary contributions, special guest chefs—Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel; Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, Backstreet Café and Caracol; Andrew LaRue of Cheeseburger in Paradise Bar & Grill; andKaitlyn Venable ('12) and Dan Phalen of Luby's Fuddruckers—came together to prepare the four-course induction dinner. A team of student leaders, pictured above at the ceremony with Hengst, planned and executed the 2014 event—everything from the details of the induction ceremony and dinner, to the reception preceding the main event and the two days of industry Think Tank sessions held at the College. Each session featured a moderator and a panel of experts, giving students the chance to learn firsthand from professionals in very specific areas of the hospitality industry. Kudos to the 2014 Hall of Honor student leadership team and their faculty mentor, Alexis Hoey, on a job well done! (Photo: Michael Scott)
Welcome to the Club, Richard!
The Eric Hilton Distinguished Alumni Club is proud to welcome its newest member, Richard Weil ('78). Weil is the senior consultant for National Restaurant Consultants and has enjoyed a long, successful career in the restaurant industry. On Nov. 6, he returned to Hilton College as the featured speaker for the 27th Annual Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series and had the honor of being the first Eric's Club speaker to address students in the newly renovated Alumni Hall. The lecture series was established in 1999 by Dr. Clinton L. Rappole, with the goal of bringing accomplished alumni back into the classroom to discuss their career paths with students. After his lecture, Weil (seated center) was presented with an Eric's Club chair by fellow club members. Pictured standing left to right are Eric's Club members Brad Schreiber ('80), Mary Beth Moehring ('80), Ricki Oberoi ('86), Charles Dorn ('80),Jonathan Shear ('80), Marty Breverman ('74), Bob Planck ('71), Nick Massad Jr. ('73),Dean John Bowen (Hon. '06), Al Gallo ('82), Steve Goodman ('83), Dave Smalley ('79),Dorothy Nicholson ('77), Doug Brooks ('75), Gregg Rockett ('86) and Dr. Rappole (Hon. '73). Congrats, Richard, and welcome to the club! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)