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July 2015


Dean Dennis Reynolds
A New Chapter at Hilton College
So much for the lazy days of summer! This month brought perhaps the biggest change the College has seen in more than a decade … our new dean! Dr. Dennis Reynolds and his family—wife Julia and the youngest of their two daughters—made the move to Texas from Pullman, Wash., where Dean Reynolds previously served as the Ivar Haglund Endowed Professor of Hospitality Management and director of the Wine Business Management Program at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management. He says they’re adjusting well to life in the Lone Star State and are enjoying the people, food and Houston hospitality. Reynolds officially began his tenure at the College on July 1 and hit the ground running, meeting with key advisors, faculty and staff in both Houston and San Antonio. His long-term goals? To increase the College’s international exposure, expand graduate education and enhance the undergraduate experience. “We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented. We want to set our graduates up to be industry innovators,” Reynolds said. “This is an exciting time at Hilton College, and the possibilities are almost endless. I’m looking forward to working with our outstanding faculty and staff, advisory board, industry friends and—of course—our students, to keep this program at the forefront of hospitality education.” Please join us in welcoming Dean Reynolds to the Hilton College family! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Anna Johnson
Helping Veterans Launch Careers in Hospitality
Anna Johnson is a teacher at heart. She’s passionate about adult learning and helping people plan their careers. A recent graduate of the UH Graduate College of Social Work, she joined the College in June as our manager of community engagement to coordinate a new program to help train local veterans for careers in the hospitality industry. The program, “Learning Skills for Life,” has already been established by Diageo—a global leader in the beverage industry—elsewhere in North America and across the world. Now, through this new partnership between Diageo and the College, seven local veterans are well on their way to exciting new careers. The program is four weeks long and covers topics like restaurant, banquet and beverage service, fine dining, food safety, culinary basics, etiquette and professional development. Classes are being taught by Hilton College faculty and staff, and at the end of the program, the participants will graduate with certificates in beverage and food handling. They’ll also receive career counseling, networking opportunities and interview apparel from Brooks Brothers clothing store. “The veterans in our program are coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, and many are in the process of rebuilding their lives after facing significant challenges. Some are currently working in the industry and are looking to develop their careers, while others view this program as a springboard to a new life,” Johnson said. Potential students were identified by the U.S. Veterans Office, Goodwill, Career and Recovery Resources and Houston Launch Pad and were then interviewed by Johnson and selected based on their interest in professional growth and having careers in the industry. “It’s rewarding to see people who are eager to learn and hungry for knowledge get the skills and training they need to follow their passions,” she said. We couldn’t agree more. Welcome to the HC, Anna! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Cody Taylor
Prestigious Scholarship Makes Study Abroad Dream a Reality
Next stop, Thailand! Hilton College junior Cody Taylor will embark on a global hospitality adventure this September, thanks in part to a prestigious national scholarship. Taylor, who will spend the semester at Mahidol University near Bangkok, was awarded a $5,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, part of a national program created to offer study-abroad and internship opportunities to students who might otherwise not be able to participate due to financial constraints. At Mahidol, one of Asia’s top universities, Taylor will take hospitality marketing, lodging and housekeeping management, and human resources management. He’s the only student from UH to participate in the Thailand program this year. “I want to learn about the culture and see a different side of hospitality. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I never thought I would be able to experience something like this … It will be incredibly enriching, and I can’t wait to get there,” he said. Taylor also said he’s looking forward to sharing his experiences with fellow Coogs when he gets home—and, of course, helping promote the University’s amazing study-abroad programs. Safe travels, Cody! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Daniel Moreno
Alumni Spotlight: Finding Success in Private Clubs
Daniel Moreno (’03) knew he was destined for a career in private clubs as soon as he got his foot in the door. He started working at River Oaks Country Club in 1999 when he was a student at UH and liked it so much, he switched his major from political science to hotel and restaurant management. It was the right move! Throughout school and after graduation, he continued to move up the ranks at River Oaks, eventually becoming a beverage manager. After that, he served as an assistant clubhouse manager at The Woodlands Country Club, and then earned his first general manager position at the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah in 2006. And his impressive career trajectory didn’t stop there. These days, he’s in his second year as the youngest-ever GM of downtown's exclusive Petroleum Club of Houston. He credits his rapid rise to the top with extensive work experience, networking and a mindful effort to never stop growing professionally. “It’s important to build your resume while you’re a student and take advantage of every networking opportunity you can. It’s also key to find a mentor in the industry. Joe Bendy (‘89), the GM at River Oaks Country Club, has helped me tremendously in my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” he said. Moreno says his biggest challenge is setting his club apart and making sure he stays ahead of trends and anticipates change in the industry. As for the future, he’s looking forward to continuing to grow membership and keep the Petroleum Club at the forefront of Houston’s thriving private club scene. “I love private clubs, because you get to see the same faces every day. You learn what members like and how to meet their expectations. It’s fulfilling to be able to offer that level of hospitality,” he said. And we love seeing our alums help each other succeed. Way to represent the HC, Daniel! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Summer camps
Courting Future Coogs at Summer Camp
High school students from across the country got a taste of hospitality this summer, thanks to five separate camps held at the College. First, Director of Enrollment Danny Arocha, Future Cougar Relationship Manager Mandi Anderson and the Conrad N. Hilton College Ambassadors hosted their annual academic camps for 72 promising young scholars. These three special camps gave potential students the chance to learn about the hospitality industry and experience Hilton College life firsthand. The campers enjoyed private tours of the Hilton Americas, Pappasito’s, River Oaks Country Club and TDECU Stadium. They also had the opportunity to cook dinner with Chef Mark Riley and tour the campus and the College. Dr. Jay Neal got in on the action, too, organizing a food safety leadership summer camp, a USDA grant-funded partnership with Houston Community College (HCC) focused on educating students about careers in the food industry. This year, 13 students from Spring Branch ISD and Westside High School participated, touring Sysco, Veg Out! Farms and HCC. The College also hosted the third annual Admiral Hospitality Scholars camp. Produced in partnership with David Robinson’s Admiral Capital Group, Hilton Worldwide and American Liberty Hospitality, the Admiral Hospitality Scholars program provides clear career paths in the lodging industry to a select group of deserving students from HISD. Sixteen students participated this year, and Robinson himself was on hand to meet them, hear about their career plans and give out autographed basketballs. Big thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make these camps a reality! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)