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Students at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
at the U of Houston Have Been “Serving Up” Success with Par Ex -
Their 25 Year Old Student Club


HOUSTON, October 12, 2007— While many student clubs and organizations experience turnover as quickly as each semester ends, students at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston have been “serving up” success—and scholarships—for 25 years.

Par Excellence, a student honors organization that manages and operates a first-class hospitality staffing business, will host its Silver Anniversary Gala at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25 in the College’s Conrad Hilton Ballroom. Themed “Shades of Red,” the event is entirely student-produced. Current members of Par Excellence will prepare and serve the gala’s menu as guests enjoy a jazz ensemble, synchronized flambé demonstrations and, or course, reminiscing.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Clinton L. Rappole Endowed Chair. Rappole, former dean of the college and current professor emeritus, was the organization’s founding faculty sponsor.

“In 1982, James Papadakis, owner of James Coney Island, contacted me about finding students to work the March of Dimes Silver Screen Gourmet Gala,” Rappole said. “Their event went off without a hitch, and many attendees praised the efficiency and professionalism of our students. It was immediately evident that the college needed to form a permanent, elite service team of students, and Par Excellence was born.”

Ever since, Par Ex—as it is referred to by students—has staffed upscale events for the university and the surrounding Houston community. The biggest feather in the organization’s proverbial cap? Providing service for former President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Membership in Par Excellence is selective. Members must be enrolled at the Hilton College and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. There also is a formal application and interview process. Experienced members are responsible for training new members through an eight-week curriculum of bartending, carving, garde manger, flambé, cake cutting, and formal wine and champagne service. 
After “shadow-serving” four events and working a mock event, new members “earn their tails,” a tuxedo jacket and a $500 scholarship. The expectation from there is for students to work 50 hours per semester for the organization.

“Par Ex is my life,” said student general manager Rebecca Godlove, who has been with the organization for four semesters. “We currently have 34 members, and it’s the best and closest group of students I’ve worked with yet.  Par Ex is a door that opens up so many opportunities, and when you go through those doors with your best friends, it makes the experience even more memorable.”
Alida Bonifaz, student marketing director and co-chair of the 25th anniversary gala, concurs.

“I’ve been with Par Ex for seven semesters,” Bonifaz said. “Many students start off shy, but during the time they are with us, they grow both professionally and personally. Being involved with this service organization is truly an invaluable experience for a career in hospitality.”

Building their reputation through consistent excellence and word-of-mouth referrals, Par Excellence serves a broad clientele base, even retaining some clients for all 25 years. From providing service for private parties to staffing corporate banquets, all profits are used to fund the organization’s scholarships and to cover operational expenses. This has been the key to keeping Par Ex self-sufficient for all these years.

“I am very proud of these students and this organization,” Rappole said. “To be a stand-alone organization for so long is a testament not only to the organization’s philosophy, but to the commitment of our students as well. Their motto, ‘25 years above the par; 25 years of excellence’ could not be more fitting.”

Tickets to the “Shades of Red” Silver Anniversary Par Excellence Gala are still available. Please RSVP by Oct. 15 at (713) 743-2456. Tickets are $50, with discount tickets of $35 for faculty, staff and students. 

For more information on Par Excellence visit http://www.parexcellencestaffing.com/

For more information on the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management visit www.hrm.uh.edu. 

About the University of Houston 
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH visit the university’s Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom

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Contact:

Par Excellence
http://www.parexcellencestaffing.com/

David Raffetto
713/743-1509 (office)
 draffetto@uh.edu

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Also See: Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company, and Gary Loveman, Chairman & CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, to be Inducted into the 2007 Hospitality Hall of Honor at the Univeristy of Houston / August 2007
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