VOLUME 18 #1

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Hotel executive makes time for education

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
John Timmerman at Winter Commencement.

ON THE GREEN | Two years ago, John Timmerman, a highly accomplished corporate executive, decided to tackle one more challenge by enrolling in the Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Timmerman, corporate vice president for operations for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., was awarded his bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and institutional management during Winter Commencement in January.

Established in 1983 with the purchase of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston and the rights to the name Ritz-Carlton, the management company with 38,000 employees has grown from one hotel to 72 hotels worldwide, with plans for further expansion in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. is an independently operated division of Marriott International.


Timmerman, who had previously attended Penn State University, says his decision to enroll at Delaware was driven by his belief that it is important for professionals to make continual investments in their personal development to remain competitive in today’s labor market.

“I wanted to continue my education as a working executive with a high-quality institution,” he says. “I selected the University of Delaware because UD demonstrates top rankings in the various surveys and polls, provides faculty that are thought-leaders in their area of specialty and has a rich legacy of providing higher education for more than 250 years.”

Timmerman, who began the journey with a management and organizational behavior course in the summer of 2008, says he was impressed from the start by his first professor.

“I’ve found that the UD faculty deliver high-quality curriculum of a large institution with the personal touch and feeling of family,” Timmerman says. “It is important to mention that my academic adviser, Donna Laws, played an important role and was extremely responsive to helping me through the program.”

He notes that juggling his studies with a busy work schedule required meticulous planning and deep commitment.

“The biggest challenge is starting the process—not deferring the investment—and developing a rhythm, making it a programmed and daily habit,” Timmerman says of studying. “I’m somewhat of an early bird and would do most of my course reading early in the morning between 4 and 6 a.m. This would still allow me enough time for a quick workout before arriving at work around 7 a.m.” Weekends, he says, were devoted to writing term papers, spending time with family and carving out time to evaluate and plan long-term business priorities.

He says he enjoys traveling and learning about new places, cultures and history.

“My job already involves a fair amount of travel, and my wife [Hae Timmerman] still does not understand why I want to jump on a plane for a vacation when I just returned from a trip,” Timmerman says.

“I’m a former U.S. Force Reconnaissance Marine, and I love the water. My most recent thrill was breaking past 200 feet on a mixture of helium while diving the USS Oriskany shipwreck off the coast of Pensacola” in Florida.

With his bachelor’s degree in hand, Timmerman already is thinking ahead and planning for his second career. He says he probably will teach because he enjoys developing leaders, sharing his knowledge and expertise as a guest lecturer.

UD’s major in hotel, restaurant and institutional management offers a curriculum based in liberal arts, business and specialized courses for the hospitality industry, with a requirement that students also complete significant real-world work experience. A bachelor’s degree can be earned on campus or through distance learning.

Article by Martin A. Mbugua, BE ’09M

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