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Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management will hold its 11th annual convocation Thursday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. in Alumni Chapel. Sponsored by the Maid of the Mist Corporation, the convocation is the college's showcase event, during which it annually honors national and international leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry.
This year's honorees are Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International, who will receive the college's Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Jacobs family and Delaware North Companies Inc., this year's recipients of the Hospitality Management Leadership Award.
The ceremony will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the honorees, along with Eddie Friel, an expert-in-residence at Niagara, and Michael Gentile, J.D., an associate professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
"Our convocation is an excellent opportunity for our students and those in the Western New York community to hear from some of the brightest minds in the tourism and hospitality industries," said Dr. Gary Praetzel, dean of NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and chairman of the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Gehrisch has spent 29 years in the hospitality industry, including the past decade as president and CEO of DMAI. He previously held management positions with Marriott and Hilton hotels, and spent 13 years as executive vice president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association in Washington, D.C.
A graduate of The Ohio State University, Gehrisch has been named one of Meeting News magazine's "Top 25 Most Influential People," one of the "100 Most Influential People in the Tradeshow Business" by Tradeshow Week, and among Business Travel News' "25 Most Influential Travel Executives."
Meanwhile, Delaware North has transformed from a modest popcorn and peanuts vending business that began in 1915 into one of the world's premier hospitality management companies with more than $2 billion in annual revenue. Just as it was nearly a century ago, Delaware North is still owned and operated by the Jacobs family. The company's present day subsidiaries are leaders in food service, hospitality management, retail, sports facility ownership and management, and gaming venue and racetrack ownership and operation. In addition to its operations at landmarks such as Yosemite National Park, Kennedy Space Center and Wembley Stadium, as well as several international resorts, the company owns and operates Boston's TD Garden, one of the top sports and entertainment locations in the world.
The Jacobs family also has a long history of professional sports team ownership. Jeremy Jacobs, Delaware North's chairman and CEO, is the owner of the Boston Bruins, the NHL's current champions. His father, Louis, is well known for purchasing the AHL's Syracuse franchise and moving it to Buffalo in 1940. Later that year, Jacobs' Buffalo Bisons played the first professional hockey game in Memorial Auditorium, establishing a foundation for long-term hockey success in Buffalo. The family has also owned the Buffalo Bisons baseball franchise and basketball's Cincinnati Royals, one of the NBA's original teams.
For more information on the convocation, contact Praetzel at [email protected] or 716-286-8272.