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Event Planned by Hilton College Students Wins National NACE Award 7/18/2014

HOUSTON—An event planned and executed entirely by students from the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management was named best in its class for 2013 by the National Association for Catering and Events, beating out events produced by professionals from all over the country.

The Best Event Production for a Budget Under $50,000 award was presented at the NACE Experience! conference in Baltimore on July 15, 2014.

The winning entry, “Gourmet Night: There’s No Place Like Home,” was a Wizard-of-Oz-themed dinner and silent auction fundraiser hosted at the Hilton University of Houston in April 2013. Gourmet Night is a 42-year tradition at Hilton College, with a new team of student managers producing the elaborately themed gourmet dinner soiree for 360 guests each year.

Erin Oeser, executive director of Gourmet Night, accepted the award on behalf of her students.

“This is just further proof of what Hilton College students can accomplish. The fact that they can put on an event that’s so impressive that it competes with professionally produced events is remarkable. I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.

Oeser, who serves as the faculty advisor for the NACE-UH chapter—the largest student chapter in the country—also took home the prestigious George Zell Spirit of NACE award.

“Year after year our students continue to impress, but this year they really topped themselves. Under Erin’s guidance for the last 10 years, our student chapter has flourished and our event-management program has become one of the best in the country,” Hilton College Dean John Bowen said. “I could not be more excited for Erin and her students for bringing home these highly coveted awards.”

In addition to the accolades, Hilton College students received three of the four national scholarships awarded by NACE. Clara Snelson won the coveted $10,000 Vince DeFinis Scholarship, while Caitlin O’Brien and Hannah Ballard both won Foundation Scholarships, worth $5,000 and $2,500 respectively.

For more information on the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, visit

Taylor Wiley