Professor Kaye Chon, Dean, Chair Professor of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Walter Kwok Foundation Professor in International Hospitality Management, was bestowed the 2017 McCool Breakthrough Award by the International Council of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE), the world’s largest organisation of hospitality and tourism educators, for founding the Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism.

Professor Chon received the award at the Annual I-CHRIE Summer Conference and Marketplace in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in late July. This is the second time that the SHTM has attracted the interest of the McCool Breakthrough Award judging panel, with the School taking out the coveted prize in 2012 for the breakthrough realised in the form of its teaching and research hotel – Hotel ICON – the heart of the SHTM’s innovative approach to hospitality and tourism education.

The McCool Breakthrough Award is given annually to an individual, group, programme, school, college, association or corporation that has made a significant breakthrough or introduced a unique approach in the spirit of I-CHRIE’s mission. The award recognises an event, activity or programme in the spirit of Willie McCool, a dedicated and successful astronaut and son of Audrey and Barry McCool, faculty members of Texas Tech University.

Professor Chon has been honoured by I-CHRIE with this prestigious award for his role in the annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. He is the Founding Chairman of the conference series, which is deemed to be an innovative approach to graduate education.

The Conference was founded in 1996 with four specific objectives: to provide a platform for the exchange of cutting-edge research in the field of hospitality and tourism; to foster healthy research culture; to provide a forum for networking among and between graduate students and faculty members; and to serve as a career mart for graduate students who are completing their terminal degrees. Over the past 22 years, the Conference has developed into a “must attend” forum for graduate students and faculty in the field.

“It is a tremendous compliment for me to be awarded the McCool Breakthrough Award,” said Professor Chon. “It is also an important reminder that we should always be striving to fulfil our vision of leadership in advancing the global development of hospitality and tourism education.”