Hospitality Management Marks 50th Anniversary; Will Host ‘Real Michigan’ Gala

Hospitality Gala 2013Ferris State University’s upcoming Hospitality Gala will showcase the diverse talents of students in its Hospitality Management program, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

The gala, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 1 at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Big Rapids, is a student-directed event that provides valuable experience and raises funds for scholarships and educational resources.

The event is an opportunity to experience a five-course culinary feast prepared by executive chefs, participate in a silent auction and enjoy live entertainment in a truly festive atmosphere.

“It is a very well-done, high-quality event, and the students present themselves very well,” said George Aquino, general manager of the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids who has served on the Hospitality Management program’s advisory board for the past eight years.

Students plan all aspects of the gala, from selecting a theme and menu to scheduling entertainment, arranging for auction items, selling tickets, securing sponsorships and assisting the chefs. About 300 people attend the event, which has been held annually since 1991.

The “Real Michigan”-themed gala will feature a Michigan-inspired, exquisite five-course meal (view the complete menu here: prepared by a culinary team of executive chefs, including Ferris alumni Rock Dandeneau, director of hospitality services for Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids; Derek Rettell, owner of 4-Star Restaurant Group in Chicago; Chris Simpson, executive chef for Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, and Tiffany Beckman, chef for FSU Dining Services.

The semi-formal gala begins at 5:30 p.m. with a reception that includes a silent auction featuring hotel stays, golf packages, wine baskets and other Michigan-themed gifts. It also will include live entertainment by Jeff Tucker and On the Beach, and a keynote speech by Dianna Stampfler, president of Promote Michigan. Stampfler, a member of the program’s advisory board, will discuss the extensive variety of products and services offered in Michigan.

“This year is a celebration of everything the students love about their state,” said professor Julie Doyle, who coordinates the hospitality programs.

The extensive planning and execution of the gala provides an “exceptional learning experience” for students, said Doyle, herself a Ferris alumnus of the Hospitality program who has been a professor here for 27 years.

Reserved seating is $75 per person (50 percent of the ticket price is tax deductible). To purchase tickets or sponsor a table, visit:

About 180 students are enrolled in Ferris’ Hospitality Management program, which offers three bachelor’s degrees, two associate degrees and numerous minors and certificates. Classes are taught on the Big Rapids campus as well as in Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Flint.

“Ferris’ program prepares students for the real world,” said Aquino, an industry veteran. “It is one of the most underrated Hospitality programs in the United States.”

For more information, visit

Last updated: 08-15-2013