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A New Homecoming Tradition

(October 28, 2016)  Homecoming is so much more than just football in The School of Hospitality Business.  Ahead of the big weekend at MSU, The School hosted a first-ever Alumni Board Classroom Speakers Forum and Mock Interview Day on Thursday, October 13.  In addition, several alumni arrived on campus as early as Wednesday, October 12 to speak in classes, and some were on hand the following Monday, as well, including Carol Campbell, director of Hotel Development Integration for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.  In fact, Carol was on campus Wednesday through Monday to speak to seven classes and a variety of student clubs.

SIRC Director Authella Collins Hawks explained the event saying, “In essence, we wanted to tap into the industry leaders who returned to campus in ways that helped the students.  And the response was incredible.”  There were alumni from nearly every segment of the hospitality industry, with executive positions in a wide range of companies, from owner-operated to global corporations.  “The idea was to fill our classrooms and provide interviewing experience all day on Thursday, in addition to kicking off our Spartan Sponsors Mentor Program and hosting the annual Faculty/Alumni Roundtable that evening.”

“Homecoming is a special opportunity,” explains Alumni Association President Mike Rice (BA ’91), Business Development director for Hotel Contracting Services.  “Our alumni return to MSU in big numbers each year for all the events that The School plans for us. We believe in supporting our students.”  It’s true:  in 11 of the past 14 Homecomings, The School’s alumni and students have been a force, winning Best Float or Best Spartan Spirit.  This year, over 65 School alumni participated in Homecoming events.

Fifteen alumni participated in Alumni Board Classroom Speakers and Mock Interview Day, addressing ten classes and conducting 24 mock interviews.  A record number of alumni and students (125) were paired through the Spartan Sponsors Mentor program, with 82 attending the kickoff.

“Having so many alumni come back and give us one-on-one interview feedback and mentoring is one of reasons The School is so highly rated,” says School senior Kortnie Bush.  “We really appreciate their willingness to help us in every way they can.”

Also in the days prior to the Alumni Board Classroom Speakers Forum and Mock Interview Day, Dr. A.J. Singh conducted a “short course” offered to students enrolled in the Real Estate Investment Management Minor.  The short course involved three sessions taught by alumni and industry professionals from around the nation on topics such as valuation and Excel modeling.  Speakers included executives from Jones Lang LaSalle Hotel Investment Advisors.

The School and its alumni were just getting started.  Friday included an all-day Executive and Appointed Board meeting, walking in the Homecoming Parade with the Hospitality Association float, and an after-parade reception hosted by alumni for the students.  On Saturday, a pre-game reception welcomed the alumni, who then headed to Spartan Stadium for the game against Northwestern.

Participants in Alumni Board Classroom Speakers Forum and Mock Interview Day:

  • Carol Campbell (BA ’98), Director, Hotel Development Integration for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
  • Dan Darrow (MBA ’61), President of Palm Hospitality, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company
  • Richard Farrar (BA ’73), Principal, Farrar Consulting Group
  • Paul Finstad (BA ’13), Acquisitions Analyst, Watermark Capital Partners
  • John Flood (BA ’80), VP/General Manager, Further Processing Unit of Wayne Farms
  • Mike Getto (BA ’56), Director of Public Relations, The Hills Hotel in Laguna Hills, CA
  • Jason Hilliard (BA ’95), Vice President of Operations, Kosch Hospitality
  • Jim Kauffman (BA ’75), Retired President, Full Service Hotels for Marriott International, Inc.
  • Bruce Lange (BA ’78), Managing Director, Westin Kierland Resort, Spa & Villas
  • Saundra Moton (BA ’77, MS ’89), Principal, SRProConsulting
  • Houston Striggow (BA ’75), CFO of SusieCakes Bakery
  • John Theuer (BA ’82, MBA ’83), CFO, Pizza Studio
  • Ken Weber (BA ’77), President, Weber’s Inn & Restaurant
  • Kurt Wisniewski (BA ’94), National Account Executive, Regional Grocery of Starbucks
  • Terri Woodin (BA ’88), Senior Director of Global Meeting Services, Meeting Sites Resource

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