“I have a chance to create a grand hotel in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” exulted Stephen A. Wynn at the Isenberg Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) Department’s Annual Awards Dinner on April 14 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. Honored with the department’s Distinguished Industry Leadership Award, Mr. Wynn described the impact of the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor luxury resort and casino in nearby Everett, which will open in 2019. Widely credited as the founder of modern Las Vegas, Wynn noted that the resort would be a magnet for job creation, including much-valued Isenberg HTM graduates. “We’re going to suck up the kids from Isenberg like a blotter,” he said, acknowledging their indisputable market value.
Introduced by former Massachusetts governor William Weld, Wynn affirmed that the new resort would be “symbiotic with the [Isenberg] school. There’s joy in giving them [Isenberg graduates] these opportunities. It has to start somewhere with opportunities that come with development and the creation of jobs,” he insisted. The initiative, he told his audience of 425, will yield anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs. Ultimately, he said, it benefits individuals, their families, and “drags in a whole lot of our neighbors as well.”
“Steve is the most hands-on CEO I’ve ever seen,” observed Bill Weld in introducing the honoree. “He treats his employees not as a cost center, but as his primary asset.” That he remarked, motivates extraordinary service. “If you’ve ever stayed in a Wynn Hotel, you’ve experienced extra-mile treatment,” added Weld. “Steve hasn’t just led his industry; he’s revolutionized it.”
Leading by Example: Jonathan Crellin ’87
Wynn’s project underscores the hospitality industry’s “huge multiplier effect on the region’s economy,” noted Boston Park Plaza Area Managing Director JonathanCrellin ’87. The HTM alum was honored at the event with the 2017 Stephen Elmont Award, HTM’s annual alumnus of the year distinction. Recalling Elmont’s generosity, Jon remarked that it continues to inspire his own financial and experiential support for HTM students. That, according to Denise Coll ’75,* who introduced Crellin, has been decisive: “Jon has been a consistent financial contributor who hosts and mentors students; they benefit from his professionalism, leadership, and experience.” Jon is also an active member of HTM’s Leadership Board.
A long-time, esteemed leader in Boston’s hospitality community, Jon was a managing director of the strategic hospitality-consulting firm Whetstone Partners for two years before joining the Park Plaza as its managing director 14 months ago. Before founding Whetstone, he was Managing Director of Pyramid Hotel Group and General Manager of the Boston Harbor Hotel. He also excelled as general manager, hotel manager, and director of marketing and sales at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, a Forbes Five Star Property. In 2006-2011, Jon took a working hiatus from Boston as general manager of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel in Bermuda.
Other Notable Awards
Earlier in the evening, one of Jon’s unforgettable mentors, former HTM department head and professor emeritus Frank Lattuca ’64 ’81, accepted the 2017 Special Recognition Award from the HTM Leadership Board. Introduced by Rob McCarthy ’78,** Lattuca, who led the HTM program’s transformation, recalled, “Looking back, I treasured my teaching and administrative responsibilities.” The program’s modernization, he noted, included its dramatic growth, its move to Isenberg in 2002, and its campaign and construction of the $5.2 million state-of-the art Marriott Center for Hospitality Management in UMass Amherst’s Campus Center.
Two awards preceded Professor Lattuca’s. Nicole Francoeur ’09 accepted the Outstanding Young Alumni honor, and a student, Nuna Atadja ’18, received the Stephen Elmont Alumni Scholarship. An Account Manager with Conventures in Boston, Nicole manages a diverse portfolio of events, including First Night, Sail Boston 2017, and several corporate/nonprofit venues. Nicole has been a frequent visitor to Amherst as an HTM panelist and as a participant in student networking events. She participates in the campus’s Alumni Advisor Network. An outstanding student and active member in Isenberg and UMass volunteer societies, Nuna has begun a Real Estate and Workplace Internship with Twitter in San Francisco.
The evening’s consummate emcee, Bob Luz’82*** introduced the HTM department’s new chair, Muzzo Uysal and Isenberg’s dean, Mark Fuller. Luz applauded the department’s top-five status among the nation’s hospitality programs and Dean Fuller noted Isenberg’s dramatic eight-year rise in national business school rankings from 78th to 33rd (13th among the publics). “Without question,” he emphasized. "Isenberg is the most improved public business school in the nation over the past six years.”
*Independent Trustee for LaSalle Hotel Properties & Enlivant; HTM Leadership Board member
**Principal with the Melan Hotel Group; Chair, HTM Leadership Board
***President and CEO—Massachusetts Restaurant Association; HTM Leadership Board member