“My UMass degree assisted me from day one. It opened doors that I didn’t know existed,” emphasized HTM’s 2015 Stephen Elmont Award recipient Robert F. McCarthy ’78 (pictured second from left above) in his keynote address at Isenberg’s Hospitality & Tourism Management on April 16th. Rob was one three honorees at the event at the elegant Boston Harbor Hotel. The Elmont Award, inspired by the entrepreneurial and industry-transforming accomplishments of the late Stephen Elmont ’64, is the HTM program’s alumnus of the year award. A second accolade, the Distinguished Industry Leader Award, honored James J. Murren, Chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International. And the Stephen E. Elmont Alumni of the Year Scholarship went to Vimbai Moyo ’16, a junior-year HTM major.
An Iconic HTM Graduate
Following welcoming remarks by Isenberg's Dean Mark Fuller and HTM department Head Haemoon Oh, McCarthy, who is president and COO of Chartwell Hotels and longtime chair of HTM’s Leadership Board, applauded the work ethic and grit of HTM students and graduates. Those assets, it was evident, were always part of Rob’s own approach to hospitality and to his career game plan. “It’s been an honor to make a difference at world-class hotels,” he told the gathering. Two of Chartwell’s current hotels, he noted, have just received platinum awards for service excellence.
Before cofounding Chartwell in 2006, McCarthy was senior vice president of operations for Linchris Hotel Corporation and general manager for the Four Diamond Inn in Cambridge and the Flatley Company’s Tara Hotels. And he was opening general manager for the five-star Sonesta International Hotels Luxor, in Cairo.
Rob also emphasized the importance of mentorship. “Frank Lattuca (who was at the event) was always encouraging. He was an unbelievable mentor and part of my fabric,” Rob insisted. “We must strive to mentor our students—tomorrow’s leaders,” he added. Don’t ever lose track of where you got started and where much of the work gets done, he continued. “Go clean a room with a housekeeper. Go out on a sales call. Let them know how much you love and appreciate them.”
A Student’s Perspective
In her concise remarks, Elmont Alumni of the Year scholarship recipient Vimbai Moyo (left) appeared cut from the same cloth as Rob McCarthy. The HTM program, she said, “offers its students endless resources and opportunities for success and growth. But it’s up to us to make the most of those opportunities,” remarked Moyo, who has excelled in an internship with Hilton, an externship with Starwood, and as a resident assistant on campus.
Hospitality as a Driver for Regional Development
Isenberg Hospitality students and graduates can look forward to new opportunities when MGM Springfield opens its doors in 2017. MGM’s $800 million investment in the city will include a thoroughly sustainable 250-room hotel, gaming facilities, and an entertainment district with dining, retail space, cinemas, bowling, and an outdoor stage, noted MGM chairman and CEO James Murren (pictured second from left below) in his remarks to the gathering. The project, he emphasized, will create thousands of permanent jobs, 90% of which will go to residents of Western Massachusetts. MGM, moreover, is investing an additional $25 million a year in Springfield to improve its schools, policing, and other community priorities.
“My job is to educate the broader public about who we are and who we are not,” Murren continued. That entails, he said, dispelling the outdated misconception that equates the business narrowly with gambling. Instead, MGM offers a far broader scope of diversified entertainment. And it is on a civic mission to improve the quality of life in its host cities.
“We see a vision where people will want to move back to the city and build careers and families there,” remarked Murren, a native New Englander, who attended concerts in a more vibrant version of Springfield during his college years at Trinity in Hartford. “I’m proud of my company. I know it for what it is,” he continued. “MGM Springfield may not bring us the highest return on investment, but it’s the most gratifying [investment].” Outside of Las Vegas, he said “I’ve never had a role to turn a city around.” That, he said, is a challenge that MGM proudly accepts.
Bob Luz ’84 excelled as the event’s master of ceremonies. Rick Kelleher ’73, who hosted the gathering, introduced Rob McCarthy and the evening’s chef and wait staff. He urged alumni to support the HTM program and “make [students’] lives easier and more productive.”
Chartwell Hotels Davenport Companies Horizon Beverages LaSalle Hotel Properties MGM Resorts International Newmarket Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub Pyramid Hotel Group Starwood Hotels and Resorts
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