Faculty & Staff News

New Hilton dean looks to expand graduate programs

Starting July 1 of this year, the Conrad N. Hilton College will have a new dean, the seventh in its history.

Dennis Reynolds hails from the state of Washington, where he is currently the Ivar Haglund Distinguished Professor for the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University.

The Hilton College faculty originally contacted him regarding the position last summer, and the College’s reputation as one of the world’s top hospitality programs was what attracted him to their offer. Houston itself, though, with its size and diversity, also played a factor in his decision to take the job.

“As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston has more than 11,000 restaurants, 75,421 hotel rooms, thriving arts and cultural scene, professional sports teams and numerous entertainment venues, which means excellent opportunities for our students and graduates,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds has expressed hopes of expanding the Hilton College’s graduate programs as well as adding a new doctoral degree and a new master’s in global hospitality business.

“My primary goal as dean will be to extend the global reach and reputation of Hilton College,” Reynolds said. “I hope to see us enhance our graduate education programs while maximizing the undergraduate experience.”

Professionally, Reynolds has spent years in the hospitality industry, doing everything from being a busboy to running the North American division of a publicly traded food service company. He named several people as major influences who guided him toward success.

“My parents, of course, had a very positive influence on me,” said Reynolds. “I was also blessed to have Fred Del Marva, a long-time executive in the hospitality industry, provide me with advice and guidance over the last 25 years. Importantly, my wonderful wife has always been at my side.”

Some students at the Hilton College hope the new dean will make some improvements to the college.

“(I hope he’ll) definitely improve some classrooms,” said Hotel and Restaurant Management sophomore Riley Rundquist. “Some are not really updated.”

Other students, however, expressed ambivalence about the arrival of a new dean. One student in particular, when asked about any concerns he wished the new dean would address, drew a blank.

“I really like this college,” said HRM senior David Wicoff. “There are not too many issues I have with this school.”

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