Calling all Guelph HAFA and HFTM Alumni

GUELPH, Ont. — University of Guelph is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its Hotel and Food Administration program, which became the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management. They are planning a weekend of festivities and a reunion of grads June 21-23, 2019.

Many HAFA/HFTM alumni are well-known throughout the hospitality industry, including David Larone of CBRE, Vito Curalli of Hilton, Jeff Dover of FS Strategy and Cameron Woof of CWB Franchise Finance. The University has also given honorary doctorates to industry influencers including J. Charles Grieco, founder of the OHI and CHF who passed away recently, Wendy Swedlove, former chair of CTHRC (now Tourism HR Canada) and Simon Cooper, former president & COO of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. They have also had many Executives in Residence, including Michael Beckley of CBRE and Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn.

About 4,000 students have passed through the undergraduate programs, and there are 1,000 alumni of the executive leadership programs.

Statia Elliot.

Statia Elliot.

Some of the programs have changed dramatically over the years, Statia Elliot, director for the past five years, told CLN. For example, the executive leadership program, which started as the Advanced Management Program for the Hospitality Industry in 1983, initially required three weeks on campus. Now, it can be done online apart from three days on campus.

The celebratory weekend will begin on Friday afternoon with a tour of the Honey Bee Research Centre, McNaughton Observatory and a Historical Walking Tour. That night, alumni can reconnect with their colleagues in the Bullring. There will be a number of activities on Saturday, including open doors at the library and residences; an arboretum tour; a President's Milestone Lunch; an art gallery tour; a craft beer tasting; and a lab tour in the Science complex. The day will end with a reception and gala in Creelman Hall, with an anticipated attendance of 400 alumni. This will be a dinner/dance with music that covers all five decades. On Sunday morning, there will be a brunch at PJ's restaurant, followed SummerFest on the Green at Johnston Green.

“We are looking for stories from the alumni,” Elliot told CLN. “We have already reached out to former director John Walsh. Valerie Allen, a student who later worked on campus for 25 years, will take a look back over five decades. As an academic advisor, she came into contact with many of the students.

“So many people are a part of the school; I feel privileged to be part of this,” Elliot said. “We have class photos — the early ones showing bell bottoms and plaid jackets.”

Do you recognize anyone from the HAFA Class of 1975? Answer next issue.

Do you recognize anyone from the HAFA Class of 1975? Answer next issue.

At a reception late last month, University of Guelph launched the Legacy 50 campaign. “Over the last 50 years, we have benefitted from one of the best hospitality schools in North America. Think of [founder] George Bedell. If he could look at what's happened in 50 years, with more than 5,000 grads, MBA, MSc and PhD programs, and nine majors in the Bachelor of Commerce. It will be interesting to see what the next 50 years hold for us.  We need to build and shape the program.”

The Legacy 50 fund has a goal of raising $500,000, with gifts ranging from $5,000 of student scholarships to $150,000 for a classroom. Funds will go toward technology, advancing the experiential learning lab, and sending students abroad — encouraging active learning beyond the classroom.

“But most of all we are looking for students to come back to the gala on June 22nd. We'd like to have a big shout out for as many alumni as possible to return,” Elliot said.

Do you have memories of University of Guelph's HAFA or HFTM programs? Contact: Statia Elliot, statia@uoguelph.ca.

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