School of Hospitality Management Update:
July 2013

This update from the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State serves to keep you informed and interested in the news as it happens—for alumni, industry members, faculty members, and students. Send us your news; it's a great way to connect.

School of Hospitality Management Names Starwood Chief Executive Officer Frits van Paasschen as Conti Professor

The Penn State School of Hospitality Management named Frits van Paasschen, president and chief executive officer of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. as the Spring 2013 Walter J. Conti Visiting Professor. Conti Professors visit the School of Hospitality Management to interact with students and faculty members, to present guest lectures in hospitality management, and to speak at graduate and undergraduate colloquia.

“Frits brings to the school a wealth of cutting-edge knowledge and experience about branding in the hospitality industry based on his tenure at Starwood since 2007 where he has nurtured such esteemed brands as W, Westin, Aloft and St. Regis,” said John O’Neill, director of the school. “We are delighted that Frits and several Penn State alumni at Starwood were able to spend time with our students to discuss this dynamic industry, their personal experiences, and career advice.”

Van Paasschen and addresses the audience

Van Paasschen visited the School of Hospitality Management during the Spring 2013 semester for a presentation to over 200 hospitality students about what he calls ‘The Age of Great Change’ and Starwood’s global perspective on the hospitality industry. His visit also included a roundtable with student leaders and faculty members, which allowed for vibrant discussions about leadership.  

Van Paasschen spoke with the attendees

Van Paasschen has spent most of his career working for global lifestyle brands. Prior to joining Starwood, he served as president and CEO of Coors Brewing Company where he turned around both market share and profitability. Before working at Coors, van Paasschen held several global executive positions at Nike. He ran Nike’s business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, doubling its EBITDA over four years. He was a vice president in finance at Disney Consumer Products and began his career as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company.

Van Paasschen recently was appointed to serve on the board of Barclays PLC. Previously, he served as chairman of the European-American Industrial Council and as a director of two companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Jones Apparel Group and Oakley. He was a lecturer in economics at Harvard College and has been a guest host on CNBC Squawk Box. He currently serves on Conservation International’s Business Advisory Board. Van Paasschen speaks five languages and has both Dutch and U.S. citizenship. 

Van Paasschen holds an master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree in economics and biology from Amherst College. An avid sportsman, he has competed in a variety of endurance events, including twelve marathons, Europe’s longest running relay, and the Pikes Peak Ascent. He is based at Starwood’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn., and he and his family reside in Connecticut. 

Starwood is the world's largest and most global operator of high-end hotels, with about 1,150 properties in 100 countries. Its nine brands are: St. Regis, the Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element. In addition to hotels, Starwood operates premier time-share ownership resorts.

Van Paasschen and advisory board members

Several Penn State alumni who work for Starwood accompanied Frits van Paaschen, CEO, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. during his Conti Professorship visit on campus. L-R Front: Daniel Entenberg ('01), Sarah Cannon-Foster ('86), Frits van Paasschen, Brian McGuire ('98), Nan Crouter, Tom Mituzas. L-R Back: Jason Bayona ('05), Bob Pirollo ('92), Tom Martini ('88), Javier Nogales, John O'Neill.

Walter J. Conti, for whom the Conti Professorship is named, is a well-known restaurateur and industry leader from Doylestown, Pa. He is the retired owner and chief executive officer of Conti Cross Keys Inn and the Historic Piper Tavern (formerly Conti’s Pipersville Inn), both located in Bucks County, Pa. Conti has held various leadership positions in the National Restaurant Association, including a term as chairman from 1981 to 1982, and he is a “diplomat” of the association’s educational foundation. The Conti Professorship Program was established by alumni and friends of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management in 1987 to honor Walter J. Conti for his contributions to the school, to Penn State, and to the hospitality profession.

International Foodservice Manufacturer’s Association honors two Penn State grads

Two School of Hospitality Management graduates were recognized by the International Foodservice Manufacturer’s Association (IFMA) on May 20. James Purdum, general manager for Hospitality Services at Penn State, was a Silver Plate recipient, while John Metz Jr., president and CEO of Sterling Hospitality, garnered both the Silver and Gold Plate awards. The pair was honored at the Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration at the Great Hall at Union Station in Chicago.

Purdum is a 1977 graduate of Penn State and earned a bachelor’s degree in food services and housing administration. He was honored in the category of Hotels & Lodging.

Thomas, Metz, Purdham

(L-R) Bruce Thomas '80 (2011 Silver Plate), John Metz '90 (2013 Gold Plate), Jim Purdum '77 (2013 Silver Plate) at IFMA Awards Dinner

“This award is a tribute to the hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence by the entire Hospitality Services team,” said Purdum. “It’s also recognition of the support and commitment our hotels have had from our leadership, our guests, and the many colleagues we are fortunate to work with each day to support the mission of this great University.”

Metz Jr., who was honored in the Independent Restaurants/Multi-concept category, is a 1990 graduate of Penn State’s hotel, restaurant, and institutional management program.

“I’m proud to accept this recognition on behalf of the 859 employees in our company,” said Metz Jr. “They are spectacular people and unbelievable resources. I wouldn’t be here without them. They are the true recipients of something like this.”

IFMA’s Golf and Silver Plate Awards, the highest possible operator awards in the foodservice industry, acknowledge outstanding operators in the industry each year. Winners are chosen by a rigorous process that includes evaluation by a jury of immediate past winners, chief editors from leading foodservice publications, and industry experts.

“The awards allow us to pay tribute to outstanding individuals whose contributions advance their individual segments and the foodservice industry as a whole,” said Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA.

Purdum and Metz Jr. join 27 Penn State alumni who have been honored by the IFMA as Gold or Silver Plate Award winners.

Related Link

Students and alumni network at NRA Show in Chicago

SHM students Brynn Marshall, Mercedes Engle, Vicky Schetelich, Eric Pepple, Anthony Potter, and Richard Neumann were selected as student delegates to attend the 94th annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, and sixth annual International Wine, Spirits, and Beer Event held in Chicago, Illinois, May 18-21. They were accompanied by John O’Neill, director, Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management; Brian Black, director of hospitality industry relations; and Rosemarie Hibbler, coordinator for career placement and advising.

Students at NRA show

SHM students at the NRA show

"The NRA Show was an eye-opening experience. It has made me even more excited to begin my career in this industry and showed me how many career options I have available,” said Pepple. “The entire show was a great networking opportunity and, as a student, a great way to meet and greet our industry's giants.”

The conference kicked off with the Hospitality Industry Recruiting Executives (HIRE) reception, which was hosted by Hyatt, Marriott, and Sodexo at the top of the Willis Tower. Recruiters Brook Luedke with Hyatt and Michelle Robinson with Sodexo, discussed future employment opportunities with Penn State students and others from hospitality programs across the country.

Students at HIRE reception

HIRE reception

In conjunction with the show, Rob Grimes ’80 FS HA, chairman and chief executive officer, ConStrata Tech Consulting and Hostec Events, hosted the 26th Annual Technology Reception at ZED 451 Restaurant on Sunday night.
 More than 30 alumni gathered for a reception hosted by Justin George ’10 HRIM, operations manager at the W Chicago City Center, on Monday night.
“Talking with the alums and seeing firsthand where an HRIM degree from Penn State got them also made me feel quite blessed to be given this opportunity to pursue this degree at one of the greatest institutions in the country,” said Pepple.

Special tours were arranged by alumni and industry friends with Brigid Frey ’12 HRIM, hotel assistant manager, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel; Jack Belk, senior regional vice president of operations, The Cheesecake Factory; and Rocco LaFronza, talent recruiter, Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The students spent the following two days walking through all the exhibits at the McCormick Convention Center, sampling the latest in food trends, and testing new innovations in products and technologies.

The visit concluded with the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) Gold and Silver Plate Awards Dinner, which was held at the Great Hall at Union Station. At the IFMA dinner, James Purdum ’77 FS HA, general manager, Penn State Hospitality Services received the Silver Plate Award and John Metz Jr. ’90 HRIM, president and CEO, Sterling Hospitality, received the prestigious Gold Plate award.

Several alumni, including Bruce Thomas ’80 FS HA (a previous Silver Plate recipient), Ted Farrand ’70 FS HA, David Miles ’67 FS HA, Debbie Ulrich ’77 FS HA, Joe McCann ’78 FS HA, Matt English ’93 HRIM, and Brian Black ’98 HRIM as well as university faculty and staff, including Nan Crouter, Gail Hurley, John O’Neill, Kathleen Rider, Judy Karaky, Ken Stout, Rahul Shrivastav, Jim Burket, Andrew Monk, and Jeremy Godshall, were in attendance to show support and celebrate Purdum's and Metz’s  industry achievements.

Alumni reception

Penn State alumni reception in Chicago

Bordi receives Faculty Appreciation Award

Peter Bordi, associate professor and director of the Center for Food Innovation, recently received the Faculty Appreciation Award sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society, which honors a faculty member who actively promotes relationships among students, faculty members, staff members, and alumni above and beyond the demands of his/her job.

Pete Bordi

(L-R) Jason Diaz, HHD Alumni Society President, Pete Bordi, Nan Crouter

Bordi was nominated by student, Meg Brown (Junior), who met him through the FastStart mentoring program and the first-year seminar course.

“As soon as I read the description of the award I immediately had to nominate Pete Bordi because it described exactly what he did for me as a new student coming to Penn State,” said Brown.

Meetings and Events Club gets real-life event planning experience

Students in the Meetings and Events Club take on the role of event planners assisting local organizations that plan social events and conferences. One such event in which the student played an integral role during the spring semester was the planning and execution of Penn State Hillel's Seder dinners for Passover. Penn State Hillel offered seven Seder options serving more than 350 students. 

“It was an enormous help to our organization, and really made the difference in Hillel being able to offer a quality Passover experience for Penn State,” said Aaron Kaufman, executive director, Penn State Hillel. “In all the years I have been here, Passover has never gone as smoothly or as professionally as it did this year. For the weekly Shabbat dinners, the hospitality management students have been instrumental in guiding us in enhancing the systems and strategies we use to maximize our ability to serve as many students as possible.” 

Not only does this relationship offer a service to Penn State Hillel, it also gives SHM students valuable experience in dealing with kosher rules and dietary laws.

The club also assisted Center County PAWS, an organization that rescues dogs and cats, to put on a comedy show to raise funds for the organization. 

During Blue-White Weekend, the club coordinated the events for the Tri-Delta alumni to include meals and a tailgate.

Faculty appointments on University committees

Cranage elected to Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity( CORED)

David Cranage, associate professor of hospitality management, recently was elected as co-chair of President Erickson’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CORED). His appointment will be through 2014. CORED has a mission to lead and actively support university-wide diversity initiatives that foster teamwork, collaboration, and communication among various racial and ethnic constituencies in order to ensure inclusion, equal opportunity, and success for underrepresented/underserved communities and community members of Penn State and the surrounding area.

Sharma elected incoming vice chair of the Senate Committee on Research

Amit Sharma, associate professor of hospitality management, recently was confirmed by the Faculty Senate as incoming vice chair of the Senate Committee on Research. In this role, Sharma will work closely with the research committee chair (Chet Ray) and senate leaders to promote graduate and undergraduate research and scholarly activities, and to advise the senate on research policies, including research facilities and overhead and fringe benefits computation. The Research Committee performs advisory and consultative functions of the senate on items involving research policies and services.

Café Laura now accepting reservations for summer semester theme dinners

Reservations are now being accepted for the summer semester HRIM 430 Theme Dinners at Café Laura. Students will be serving meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 27 through July 25.

The dinners presented in HRIM 430 are designed to provide a hands-on learning experience for students preparing for careers as hospitality managers. Under the guidance of the instructors, the students are responsible for the planning, marketing, preparation, service, and evaluation of the dining experience. The course provides the students with an opportunity to test their management skills and form their managerial style.

The menus designed by the students are unique to their particular theme; food is purchased one week in advance of the meal and is used for that dinner exclusively. One of the criteria for the student’s evaluation is financial responsibility and the number of guests who attend, so it is vital that the forecast for the number of guests is as accurate as possible.

Your past and continued support of our students' efforts is greatly appreciated. We look forward to serving you!

Themes and menus are posted on the Café Laura website.

Alumna wins “Chopped Challenge” with Tim Allen on Anderson Cooper Live

Danielle Marullo ’12 HRIM recently competed in a special edition of Food Network's "Chopped" on the Anderson Cooper Live talk show. She won the competition with her savory and sweet Challah French Toast with fig compote and pomegranate seeds.

Danielle Marullo

Currently Marullo is a food and beverage manager at the Peacock Alley and Oscar’s restaurants in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel (Hilton Worldwide). She is the designated food and beverage blogger for the Waldorf Astoria blog.

Marullo is a long time culinary enthusiast and the author of her own restaurant and food blog and Twitter page where she shares her favorite, unique culinary creations. She has assisted Chef Bobby Flay at the Food Network Food and Wine Festival in New York in addition to her most recent appearance on Anderson Cooper Live winning the “Chopped Challenge” moderated by Food Network’s Ted Allen, based on the popular “Chopped” television show. Marullo aspires to be a Food Network TV Show host.

Related Links


PSHRS events schedule

PSHRS logo
SHM/PSHRS Alumni in the Classroom
Wednesday - Thursday, October 9-10, 2013
Sponsored by PSHRS/SHM
Mateer Building
University Park, PA
PSHRS Alumni Awards Reception
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Sponsored by PSHRS
Nittany Lion Inn
University Park, PA
New York International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show
November 9-12, 2013
New York, NY
PSHRS Hospitality Executive of the Year Award Reception
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Sponsored by PSHRS
New York, NY

Alumni news

Paul Howard

Paul Howard ’90 HRIM is now general manager for the Piedmont Club (ClubCorp) in Winston-Salem, NC. He previously served on the faculty in the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, where he taught in the areas of restaurant operations, club management, and strategic management.

Brad Kohut ’02 HRIM executive chef and Meredith Hanley ’11 HRIM restaurant manager both run the Burgatory Restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pa., which recently won the Burger Business competition as “Best Burger in the Nation.” Read more about the competition.

Cynthia Vannucci

Cynthia Vannucci ’99 g M E R, Ph.D., CHME, CHSP, CMP, professor, Department of Hospitality, Tourism, and Events, Metropolitan State University of Denver, received the Educator Honoree Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the PCMA Education Foundation during the 2013 Professional Achievement Dinner in Washington D.C. on May 15.

Kayla Molitoris ’12 HRIM accepted a new position as banquet manager at the Lancaster Country Club. She previously worked for Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group as a kitchen manager.

Paul J. Dombrowski ’03 HRIM recently was promoted to director of retail operations with ARAMARK at Arizona State University. He was previously director of dining services at an  ARAMARK account in Boston, Mass.

Nicolas Pelaez ’07 HRIM accepted a new position as assistant director of San Diego operations for High Flying Foods. He will be overseeing five local, boutique San Diego concepts in the San Diego International Airport, including Stone Brewing (the tenth largest craft brewery in the nation), Phil’s BBQ (Yelp’s top 10 reviewed restaurants in the country), Saffron Thai, Pannikin Coffee, and an Artisan Market. He previously worked for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants for the last six years in various locations, including in Portland, Oreg.; Seattle, Wash.; Washington, D.C.; La Jolla, Calif.; and San Diego, Calif. 

Daniel Entenberg ’01 HRIM accepted a new position as general manager of the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City. Previously he worked in various management positions with Starwood, Viceroy, Sofitel, and Palms Casino Resort, and was most recently the director of operations at the W New York Times Square.

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