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Hotel School Alum Tom Thomas Advises MSU Students,
Named Honorary Faculty

East Lansing – March 17, 2010 - When Alumnus and Visiting Leader Tom Thomas (BA ’78) returned to campus in February to address students in The School of Hospitality Business at MSU, they heard from someone who has done it all.

For 32 years, Tom has pursued his passion for hospitality, beginning with Hyatt Hotels right after he graduated in 1978.  Through 20 different positions with numerous iconic companies, he excelled in nearly every segment of the industry.  Food and beverage, private clubs, resorts, suites and extended stay, fullservice urban hotels, conference centers, and now real estate and development – Tom has experienced it all, and with his wife Brenda, has learned to see life – including 15 different moves – as an adventure, with something new around every corner.

Most recently the general manager of the legendary Drake Hotel in Chicago, Tom is now the president of Herrington Hospitality, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, which specializes in the ownership and management of hotels, resorts, and clubs.

“The hospitality industry provides choices,” he told the students in Adjunct Instructor Joel Heberlein’s HB 237 – Management of Lodging Systems course.   “It is a great industry, especially if you’re not yet sure about what you want to be.  Career opportunities exist in food and beverage, rooms, marketing and sales, finance, retail, and more.”

Tom advised students to remember that the industry is “about customer service,” and no matter how technically sophisticated our society gets, “this is still, and always will be, a people business.”

“Continually improve,” he urged.  “Your versatility will increase your value.”

Tom Thomas has been appointed general manager
of the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - December 6, 2007 - Tom Thomas has been appointed general manager of the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago. Tom Thomas most recently served as hotel manager of the Hilton Chicago, directing the operation of this world-class four-diamond convention hotel. A 30-year hospitality veteran, Tom Thomas has spent the last ten years distinguishing himself as a successful executive with Hilton Hotels Corporation.

Prior to his tenure at the Hilton Chicago, Thomas served as General Manager of the Hilton Suites Dallas North located in the competitive Galleria area.  While General Manager of this property he also held the position of General Manager Cluster Lead for the Hilton Family of brands for the city of Dallas inclusive of its Hilton, Doubletree, and Embassy Suites brands.  Before this, Thomas was General Manager of the Doubletree hotel and Executive Meeting Center, Dallas/Plano Legacy Town Center.  There he successfully positioned the property as an IACC certified meeting center as well as a luxury transient hotel, resulting in its successful sale after just three years.  Thomas began his career with Hilton by serving as Assistant General Manager and Director of Marketing for the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center.

Prior to Hilton, Tom Thomas specialized in managing award-winning and innovative conference resort developments, having opened and launched such successful properties as the Lansdowne Conference Center and Resort near Washington DC (Benchmark), Chateau Élan Resort and Conference Center north of Atlanta (Marriott), and the Marietta Conference Resort in Marietta, Georgia (Sentry III).  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Michigan State University.

After he addressed the students, Tom was named an Honorary Faculty Member in The School.  The next day, he visited several memorable spots on campus, including the office of MSU men’s basketball Coach Tom Izzo, with whom he visited before enjoying dinner with Brenda at the Tip-Off Café in the Breslin Center and watching the Spartans play Purdue that evening.

About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
 Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school in the world, The School celebrates its 83rd year anniversary in 2010.  The School has almost 10,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives, who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Founded in 1927, the mission of The School is to continually enhance The School's leadership position in hospitality business education through teaching, research, and service.  The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers.  The mission of The School of Hospitality Business Alumni Association is to provide active leadership in support of the mission of The School of Hospitality Business through membership participation, image enhancement, financial commitment, and promotion of synergies among students, faculty, alumni, and friends.  The First, The Original, and STILL The Leader. . . The School of Hospitality Business.  For more information, please visit 


The School of Hospitality Business
Lena Loeffler
232 Eppley Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-9211

Also See: Pivotal Group Inc. Hopes to Acquire the Historic 537-room Drake Hotel for Approximately $80 million, Excluding the Land / October 2003

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