Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 2, Page 2
Winter 1994
Keeping the light on

     The hospitality industry is enormous. It's the biggest industry in the
world, currently number three in the U.S.
     Hospitality covers everything from food and lodging to travel, tourism
and recreation. That means restaurants, cafes, pizza parlors, theme parks,
cocktail and corner bars, hotels, motels, conference and tourist centers.
     It means golf, corporate and country clubs, complexes for senior
citizens, holiday resorts, the company dining room.
     Essentially, it means guests-guests and the people who cater to them.
Hospitality people brought the peanuts and Cracker Jacks into baseball and
the popcorn and soda into a night at the movies. They're the people you'll
contact to help celebrate your birthday, your graduation, your engagement,
your wedding, your retirement, your funeral.
     So, what does all this have to do with the University of Delaware? The
College of Human Resources' major in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional
Management (HRIM) prepares students for careers in the hospitality
industry. The major leads to a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources.
     HRIM program director Paul Wise sees nothing but further opportunity
ahead. On any given day, for instance, roughly half of U.S. adults eat out.
Anybody over the age of 8 consumes 200 meals a year away from home. And, as
more and more families send both parents to work, that figure will rise.
The restaurant industry alone represents 25,000 companies with 150,000 food
service outlets.
     Frankie Miller, assistant professor in the HRIM program and a
specialist in sales and marketing, looks beyond domestic demographics to
growth on an international scale. "Right now," she says, "the world's
traveling population is less than 50 percent. When you think of developing
countries and the countries that have gained political freedom, what you
see are more people with passports, more people at liberty to travel. We've
only touched the tip of this iceberg."
     And, it is, already today, a fairly hefty tip. Tourism overtook
agricultural exports five years ago.
     Wise points to several features that make Delaware's program special.
While European establishments traditionally encourage apprenticeships,
American institutions favor theory. Delaware's program has a carefully
designed balance between applied experience and academic studies.
     "Great hands-on experience," according to Leslie Kramer, who worked a
semester at Disney World in Orlando, attending formal seminars on Disney's
management concepts while tending guests at its Polynesian Resort, wearing
a floral sarong with a flower in her hair. Now, she works the desk at the
Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., where actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore
were among the latest celebrity guests.
     The program's strong internship opportunities don't preclude theory.
Candidates master a range of institutional management skills plus courses
in economics, accounting, information systems and legal issues offered by
the College of Business and Economics. They also study food science, food
production, nutrition and related disciplines.
     Another innovation in HRIM is its buddy system, in which freshmen are
paired with advanced undergraduates who show them the ropes. Combine this
with a comprehensive advisement policy and the "Hospitality Mentor System,"
and you have a complete support network.
     The mentor system permits students to connect with industry
professionals, and contacts may provide that crucial foot in the door, as
Theresa Krill discovered.
     Krill, a senior from East Brunswick, N.J., chose as her mentor Ronald
N. Magruder, president of The Olive Garden Italian Restaurants and a member
of the program's advisory board. Krill says she plucked up the nerve to
approach him when she heard Olive Garden was commissioning a site in her
hometown. She landed a summer job, returning the next year to work on a
store opening in Laurel, Md. Subsequently, under Magruder's tutelage, she
has visited the chain's management training facility in Florida and the
National Restaurant Show in Chicago. Now, she has a part-time managerial
position at The Olive Garden on Route 202 in Wilmington, Del., along with
high hopes for a career with the nation's largest, Italian dinner house
     The illustrious HRIM advisory board is a source of great pride to the
program. With 35 representatives at regional, national and international
levels throughout the hospitality industry, the board helps set long-term
strategic goals, its expertise extending to journalism, finance, insurance
and the law, though most advisers are practicing industry professionals.
     The list of members includes Edward Book, president of the Travel
Industry Association of America; Ichiro Inumaru, president and general
manager of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo; Duncan Dickson, director of casting
for Walt Disney World; Hal Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Rosenbluth
Travel; James Miller, vice president of human resources for ARASERVE; Paul
O'Neill, managing director of the Sheraton Manhattan and Sheraton New York,
to name but a few.
     National member Walter Conti, who runs the award-winning Conti Cross
Keys Inn in Doylestown, Pa., is upbeat about Delaware students. "They look
terrific," he says, "as good as any in the country."
     Employment prospects for these students are good.
     "We find we're in a luxurious position," says Miller. "We've only had
three graduating classes, but already we've built a reputation in the
industry. We receive frequent calls from industry recruiters requesting our
     According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both hotel and restaurant
managers figure in the "top 50" occupations. Hotel managers or assistant
managers can expect starting salaries in the low $30s; typical top salaries
exceed $80,000.
     Location is part of HRIM's success in job placement. Less than an hour
away from Philadelphia and Baltimore, perhaps as far again from the
nation's capital, the program's center in the newly renovated Amy Rextrew
House on South College Avenue in Newark is neighbor to the nation's 5th,
12th and 7th largest markets respectively, with New York not much further.
"We have every conceivable segment of the hospitality business within a
short distance," observes Wise, which at the very least makes for
plentiful, resume enhancing summer work for the students.
     Location also facilitates each student's marketing skills. Most
recently, 16 students participated in a "sales blitz" for the Omni Shoreham
in Washington, D.C., contacting 200 businesses in three days and producing
61 definite leads for the hotel. Chris Taggart, Delaware '93, of
Wilmington, Del., loved the job: "Staying in the hotels, commuting back and
forth on the metro to D.C., having a temporary expense account...made me
feel like I was no longer in college, but out in the real world."
     In a program committed to meeting industry needs, academic focus is
blended with real-world exposure. HRIM makes post-graduation prospects a
priority. Its first annual career fair was the largest in the mid-Atlantic
region and this year's fair features more than 50 recruiters.
     The HRIM program also provides an opportunity, in an increasingly
professional industry, for active hospitality executives to return to
academia and acquire advanced skills and qualifications.
     So, if you're looking for the academic study with a clear vision of
the future, the HRIM program just might be the place. Get down to the Amy
Rextrew House. They'll keep the light on for you.
                                        -Steven O'Connor, Delaware '94 Ph.D.