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Celebration of Leadership One Last Time at Waldorf Astoria New York

(November 22, 2016, East Lansing, MI)  The School of Hospitality Business inducted four new members into its Alumni Association Hall of Fame and honored its 2016 Industry Leader of the Year at the Waldorf Astoria New York on Saturday, November 12, 2016.

col-2016-honoreesOver 200 alumni, School students and faculty, and industry friends gathered in the Empire Room to honor the Class of the Accomplished:  John Belden (BA ’85), president and CEO of Davidson Hotels & Resorts; John Flood (BA ’80), vice president and general manager, Prepared Foods, Wayne Farms; James Kauffman (BA ’75), retired president, U.S. and Canada Full Service Hotels for Marriott International, Inc.; and Steve Wagenheim (BA ’77), co-founder and partner with Genuine Restaurant Group.

Industry Leader of the Year Steve Joyce is the CEO of Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s largest hotel franchisors.  In his career spanning over three decades, Steve has developed some of the best-known hotel brands in markets worldwide.

Steve Joyce took the helm of Choice Hotels in 2008, a challenging time for the hotel industry.  Yet he led the company on an impressive and focused growth strategy, making significant gains in the company’s market share position, expanding into new markets, and advancing new brands and businesses.  As former executive vice president, global development/owner and franchise services for Marriott International, Inc., Steve was responsible for the development of Marriott’s lodging brands worldwide.  Steve takes an active role in the lodging industry and business community, and has earned numerous awards, including being named one of the most admired CEO’s by the Washington Business Journal in 2014.

The evening’s ceremonies began with a welcome from The School’s Interim Director Dr. Bonnie Knutson.  Alumni Association President Mike Rice (BA ’91), Chairman Chuck Day (BA ’91), and Chairman Emeritus Richard Farrar (BA ’75) introduced the honorees and presented their awards.  In the audience were the Dean of the Eli Broad College of Business at MSU Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well as 63 select students from The School.  Dr. Knutson thanked the many sponsors who helped fund Celebration of Leadership, giving in honor of Steve Joyce and the Class of the Accomplished.  She also acknowledge that for the past many years, Celebration of Leadership has been hosted at the historic and beautiful Waldorf Astoria New York, noting this year would be the last at the iconic hotel, with its closing slated for late February and new plans for its future underway.  “The Waldorf has been our ‘home’ for the past 15 years,” she said.  “And we have sent so many of our finest graduates here to learn from and work with the best that the hospitality industry has to offer.  Thank you.”

Students, alumni, and faculty in the audience were eager to hear his words of advice: “It is important to be supportive and promote the advancement of others in your field.  Be an advocate.  Without recognizing and nurturing Choice Hotels associates’ engagement and drive, we wouldn’t be the financially strong and innovative company we are today.”

John Belden, who could not attend, was referred to as creative and intelligent, helping Davidson build one of the highest quality portfolios in the upper-scale and near-luxury segments.  Earlier in his career, John developed an expertise in the new “extended stay” niche of the industry, becoming one of the founders of the Homewood Suites Concept and eventually selling its development rights to Davidson, which John joined soon after.  As the company’s SVP from 1989 – 2005, John led the growth effort at Davidson, helping to create a national powerhouse with a roster of blue-chip partners and clients.  He was promoted to president and CEO in 2006.

John is a generous alumnus.  He and his wife Libby have created three different endowments and scholarships in The School, benefiting student travel, operational excellence, and the Real Estate Investment Management Minor, and honoring retiring Davidson EVP and COO Patrick Lupsha.  “Love what you do, develop your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, and work harder than anyone else in the room,” John has told students.  But he also has urged them to try to find balance in their lives.

John Flood’s career was launched as a result of an internship he was awarded by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) when he was still a student in what was then called the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management at MSU.  The life-changing internship at Nabisco exposed him to the manufacturing and supply side of the hospitality industry.  In his current position with Wayne Farms, a division of Continental Grains, John helps lead one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S., with an extraordinary commitment to controlling quality at every step.

John has been known as a leader who listens, who cares for and supports individuals who want to improve themselves.  He has received the William S. Tobin award from IFMA, and regularly returns to MSU to speak in classes, one of which he helped to create with Professors Dave Dow and Mike Rice (BA ’76): HB 347 – Foodservice Distribution Channel.  He and his wife Becky have given generously to support classroom and research student assistants.  John tells students, “Be involved and willing to take on challenges that stretch you. Don’t be afraid of failure.”

Jim Kauffman began his career with Marriott soon after graduating from MSU and quickly assumed leadership roles at the hotel, regional, and corporate levels.  He held several positions in management and marketing, and retired as president for U.S. and Canada Full Service Hotels with the responsibility for the strategy and its execution at hotels in the region.  Widely respected both within Marriott and in the hotel industry, Jim is known for his welcoming manner, his results-oriented approach, and his talent for coaching others.  Jim has been an involved member of The School’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, this year serving as vice president.  He returns to campus to speak in classes and to meet and mentor students (and to attend basketball games!).  He is described as an excellent role model and teacher, especially by the MBA students he now teaches at San Francisco State University.  He tells students, “Find a position that you enjoy and have passion for.  Work for a great organization where you can learn from the best.”

Steve Wagenheim is an inspiration to students interested in entrepreneurship and the restaurant industry, having spent a successful career spanning nearly 40 years as a corporate executive, restaurant owner/operator, manager, and consultant for hotels and resorts, but mainly for individual/multi-unit restaurant operations.  Steve graduated from The School and went on to earn a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, and with a blend of business know-how and food expertise, he and partner Dean Vlahos have now created three distinct, high-volume restaurant concepts in the Minneapolis area.  And this is just in the past three years.

From 1997 – 2013, Steve was CEO, president, and founder of Granite City Food & Brewery.  He led the company to revenues of more than $120 million in 2012, and earning Nation’s Restaurant News 2007 Hot Concept award for its fresh food, on-site brewery, and unique patented brewing process called fermentus interruptus.  Prior to founding Granite City, Steve was at the forefront of the expansion and operations of Champps Americana restaurants as the co-developer of the concept and the company’s first executive officer.  He serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and is an engaging speaker when he returns to campus, telling students, “Understand your passions and what you like to do.  Work is a way of life, not a job.”

Broad College of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta graciously congratulated the honorees before the evening’s ceremonies ended and the elegant reception began across the famed lobby in the Vanderbilt Room.  “Forms of honoring, such as the Celebration of Leadership, present the Broad College with the rare opportunity to recognize and commend the industry talent in our alumni network.  Our Hospitality Business graduates consistently demonstrate the values and talent we, as a college, are proud of.”

It is appropriate this year, that as The School begins a celebration of its 90th year, it inducts a Hall of Fame class noted for its collective accomplishments.  Founded in 1927 to help meet the new and increasing demands of a burgeoning hospitality industry, Hotel Training Course at MSU became The School that has provided well-qualified, hard-working talent for every segment and every position of the hospitality industry for nine decades.  Each of this year’s inductees has built an exemplary career, led with integrity, and given back to his community and to his alma mater.  And each acknowledges the critical role his education in The School played in the success he has enjoyed.


Eli Broad College of Business

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