Hotel Online  Special Report

Fifteen Hospitality Industry Leaders to Lecture at Cornell Hotel School
as Part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series
Ithaca, N.Y., August 25, 2006 -- Prominent leaders from the hospitality industry will share their wisdom and experience with Cornell Hotel School students, faculty and staff on Friday afternoons this fall as the School rolls out the 44th edition of its Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series. 

A total of 15 distinguished speakers will address the class, representing a broad cross-section of the industry including fine wines, online-travel intermediaries, airlines, real estate development and resort operations. 

“This influential and diverse roster of speakers will give students first-hand insight into how they have built distinctive careers,” said Michael Johnson, dean of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “This is one of the many ways we partner with industry leaders to keep our curriculum fresh and give our students real-world perspective that complements their classroom learning.” 

Scheduled speakers are: 

Michael Johnson, Dean and E.M. Statler Professor, Cornell Hotel School
August 25
Michael Johnson began his term as the sixth dean of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration on July 1, 2006. Prior to joining the Hotel School, Dean Johnson was the D. Maynard Phelps Collegiate Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Marketing at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. 

James Mariani MBA ’91, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Banfi Vintners
September 1
James Mariani represents the third generation of family leadership at Banfi Vintners, the company founded by his grandfather, John F. Mariani, Sr. in 1919. Under Mr. Mariani’s leadership, Banfi Vintners has expanded its product line and built one of the most respected brands in the wine industry. 

Jay S. Witzel, President and CEO, Carlson Hotels Worldwide; CEO Regent
September 8
Jay S. Witzel oversees all of Carlson's hotel operations, which includes over 920 properties in 69 countries. He also leads the company’s cruise business, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which includes four luxury vessels sailing worldwide itineraries. 

Paul Foley ’74, President and CEO, MAIR Holdings Inc.
September 15
Paul Foley helps lead the airline industry through MAIR Holdings and its primary business units of Mesaba Aviation and Big Sky Transportation. Prior to joining MAIR, Mr. Foley held executive positions at Atlas Air and LSG Lufthansa Service/Sky Chefs. 

Barbara Higgins ’88, Director of Operations Integration, Disneyland Resort Paris
September 22
Barbara Higgins draws on all facets of hospitality to create a magical experience for guests at the Disneyland Resort in Paris. Prior to working in Paris, Ms. Higgins honed her resort skills at Disneyland Resorts in Hong Kong and Florida. 

Paul Brown, President, Expedia, Inc. Partner Services Group
September 29
Paul Brown leads Expedia in managing airline, hotel, car, tour operator, and supplier systems relationships across all global points of sale. Mr. Brown has also held leadership roles with McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group, Intercontinental Hotels, and 

Russell Galbut ’74, Managing Principal, Crescent Heights
Keith Menin ’03, Owner, Sanctuary Hotel
October 13
As leaders of Crescent Heights, the nation's largest residential condominium company, Russell Galbut and Keith Menin help create stylish and innovative properties. Crescent Heights was recently awarded the Freddie Mac Multi-Family Development Firm of the Year Award by the National Association of Home Builders, the first time this honor has been bestowed on a condominium developer. 

Dr. Sheila Johnson, CEO, Salamander Hospitality, LLC
October 20
The nation’s first African-American female billionaire, Dr. Johnson co-founded Black Entertainment Television and later developed the Salamander Inn and Spa. She is also an accomplished violinist, conductor, photographer, designer, philanthropist, and proud mother of two children. 

Gary Mendell ’79, Chairman and CEO, HEI Hospitality LLC
Stephen Mendell ’82, Executive Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, HEI Hospitality LLC
October 27
Brothers Gary and Stephen Mendell lead one of the nation’s most prominent privately held hotel investment companies. The Mendells have achieved extraordinary success through their ability to recognize investments with the highest revenue potential and to maximize operational efficiencies. 

Blaine Sweatt, President, New Business Division, Darden Restaurants, Inc.
November 3
As president of the New Business Division at the nation’s largest casual-dining company, Blaine Sweatt is responsible for creating and testing new restaurant concepts. After starting with Red Lobster in 1976, Mr. Sweatt led the company’s creation of Olive Garden, China Coast, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones BBQ, and most recently, Seasons 52. 

Carl Mittleman ’97, Regional Vice President for the West Region, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging
November 10
Carl Mittleman has excelled in a variety of roles for this leader in managed services. Most recently, he oversaw the firm’s parks and resorts business in Alaska. Earlier, Mr. Mittleman managed ARAMARK’s activity at stadiums and arenas in central California. He has also served as ARAMARK’s director for International Sports and Entertainment Operations. 

Dr. Timothy Ryan, President, Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
November 17
As the first CIA alumnus to become its president, Dr. Timothy Ryan has been instrumental in leading the growth and innovation that have shaped the CIA over 23 years. Under his leadership the CIA launched several new programs, including the world’s first bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management. 

Gerry Fernandez, President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance
December 1
Gerry Fernandez leads an educational non-profit organization that promotes the economic benefits of multicultural diversity in the restaurant, foodservice, and lodging industries. An accomplished restaurateur and foodservice professional, he has received numerous awards including being named by Nation's Restaurant News as one of the industry's “Fifty Power Players.” 

The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration is shaping the global knowledge base for hospitality management through leadership in education, research and industry advancement. The School provides management instruction in the full range of hospitality disciplines, educating the next generation of leaders in the world's largest industry. Founded in 1922 as the nation's first collegiate course of study in hospitality management, the Cornell Hotel School is recognized as the world leader in its field. For more information, visit

Cydney Peters

Also See: Michael D. Johnson Appointed Dean of the Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration / July 2006

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