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Dean Reynolds Receives ICHRIE’s Highest Honor

Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Hilton College Dean Dennis Reynolds was honored with the Howard B. Meek Award at the 2019 International CHRIE (Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education) Summer Conference, held at the New Orleans Marriott on July 24-26.


Associate Deans Ki-Joon Back and Mary Dawson, and Drs. JéAnna Abbott, Carl A. Boger Jr., John T. Bowen, Agnes L. DeFranco, Jason Draper, Priyanko Guchait, Jaewook Kim, Minwoo Lee, Chris Taylor and Scott Taylor Jr., as well as several of our doctoral students also attended the conference to lead panel discussions, present their research and to cheer on Dean Reynolds during the awards dinner.

Dean Reynolds, who has been a member of ICHRIE since 1992, said he was immensely honored to receive the organization’s award for lifetime achievement. The award is especially meaningful to him as he attributes much of his success to following Dr. Meek’s tenet of seeking advice and using it to further one’s career in order to make a difference.

“When I attended my first ICHRIE conference as a graduate student, I was overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the organization. By the time I was a Ph.D. student, I knew I had found an invaluable network that I could call on for guidance and counsel,” he said. “ICHRIE is like family, and it has changed my life in so many ways.”

In order to give back to the organization that has afforded him so much, Dean Reynolds served on the ICHRIE board for almost a decade. He has been director of membership, director of research, vice president, president and immediate past president. As chair of ICHRIE’s Comprehensive Organizational Review Committee, he led the implementation of its strategic plan in 2017.

Dean Reynolds has always had roots in hospitality. He began his career as a busser in a fine-dining restaurant in Southern California, and earned his Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Golden Gate University. After working his way up the ladder in the corporate side of the industry – while earning his Master of Professional Studies and Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration from Cornell University – Dean Reynolds made the switch from consulting and operations to education.

Trading in an executive’s salary for that of a budding professor, Dean Reynolds embarked on a path that would positively impact the lives of thousands of students – first as professor of Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and years later as professor of Hospitality Management and director of the Wine Business Management Program at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management.

Over the course of his academic career, his work has helped shape the landscape of hospitality education. He is ranked 15th among the world’s most prolific hospitality-management authors, and his research is cited in countless papers. Dean Reynolds is also a frequent and sought-after speaker across the globe and has been a member of the editorial boards of all the leading hospitality journals. Additionally, students from around the world have been known to seek his insight when it comes to their own careers. 

In July 2015, Dean Reynolds began his tenure at Hilton College. Among his many accomplishments to date, he is most excited about securing a revenue bond for the $30.4 million expansion and renovation of our Hilton University of Houston – it defines our future. And, as he says, “We’re just getting started!”

His advice to others who might one day be in a position to accept their own lifetime achievement awards? Embody the late Howard Meek and seek knowledge from those who have forged their own successful paths.

This philosophy has clearly worked for Dean Reynolds. He listened to a former boss who suggested he earn a master’s degree, he adopted Dr. Bowen’s guide to conducting successful research, and he took it to heart when Dr. DeFranco approached him at an ICHRIE conference with word that Hilton College needed a new dean.

“Life is all about timing,” he said. “Surround yourself with great people and keep your plate full. Don’t be afraid to take chances and be smart about your decisions. With that and a little bit of luck, things tend to work out.”

(Story and Photo: Pearl Cajoles)

Posted on Aug. 22, 2019