Homecoming weekend, October 1-3, 2015, was again special for The School of Hospitality Business, with a scheduled “seven events in 72 hours.

And for the fourth time in as many years, students, alumni, faculty, and staff members in The School together won “Best Spartan Spirit” in the annual Homecoming Parade. In fact, The School’s float and participation in the parade has won top awards 11 times in the past 13 years.

“It is all about the fantastic relationships The School fosters,” says Chuck Day (BA ’91), The School’s Alumni Association president. “Our alumni come back to campus in huge numbers year after year – and their interaction with our students and faculty impresses the judges every time!”

Indeed, for The School, the entire weekend began on Thursday, October 1, with an alumni/student golf outing at Forest Akers East golf course on campus, pairing students and alumni golfers – all organized by the student chapter of the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), an award-winning club in The School. Lauren Zitney (BA ’16), CMAA chapter director of Marketing and Fundraising, explains that there were contests and prizes, and “everyone enjoyed a sunny day of golf and a chance to network and form connections over some friendly competition.” She says, “We truly appreciate the level of interaction our School’s alumni have among students; it is always a reminder of our own potential.”

That evening at the annual faculty/alumni roundtable 12 faculty members discussed their latest research and 20 alumni related the latest industry trends. Also on Thursday evening, The School’s kickoff to its Spartan Sponsors Mentor Program paired 19 alumni with over 70 students. The program connects alumni and students who have similar career interests. The mentoring relationships continue the entire year, and, for some, a lifetime.

By Friday, the Homecoming celebration in The School was full-swing, starting with the meeting of the Executive and Appointed Boards of the Alumni Association. President Chuck Day (BA ’91) facilitated the meeting, which included a School update from Director Michael McCall, reports from student leaders, and committee meetings. Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77) was presented with the Faculty Member of the Year Award from The School’s student Hospitality Association (HA) and Alumni Association.

“There is no question in my mind that our School is unique in the level of commitment from alumni,” says Alumni Association Hall of Fame Member Hans Desai (BA ’79).  Nearly 60 alumni attended the meeting, with several faculty members and students participating, as well.

Alumni Association work was concluded in time for the alumni to join the students at the HA float for the parade. With this year’s theme, “Spartans Take the World Stage,” the Hospitality Association created a float that HA CEO Karina Thomas (BA ’16) describes in the following way:

Hospitality Business students have amazing opportunities to travel all around the world with their internships, for study abroad, and to start their careers. From Michigan to California, and from Australia to China, Hospitality Business students really know how to “take the world stage!” Our float represents all those locations, as well as the hospitality industry as a whole, with the international hospitality symbol, the pineapple.

With over 150 enthusiastic School supporters walking beside the float shouting the MSU Fight Song and representing the number one public Hospitality Business School in the nation, the judges made their choice: no one came close to The School’s Spartan Spirit!

After the parade, students and faculty joined alumni who hosted a reception and prize drawing in the lobby of the Broad Business Complex. They didn’t just host; they prepared the meal, with Alumni Association Vice President Mike Rice (BA ’91) making over 100 pounds of his famous Mac n’Cheese, every ounce of which was eaten and enjoyed by the hungry parade marchers. He was assisted by Chuck Day and Allegra Johnson (BA ’91) in organizing and serving the event.

Before the game the next day at noon against Purdue, The School hosted a reception at Kellogg Center, where MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon graciously welcomed School alumni, noting that The School’s outstanding reputation worldwide, and acknowledging the many contributions of its alumni to MSU and to the hospitality industry.

Finally the Homecoming game! Another victory for MSU, and another halftime presentation of the Homecoming float winners. HA CEO Karina Thomas (BA ’16) and HA Director of Events Hannah Levy (BA ’16) took the field to accept the Best Spartan Spirit award. “We were so proud!” exclaims Karina. “It’s a thrill to represent our School and accept the Spartan Spirit award in front of all the fans.”

“It’s easy to understand why The School always wins this award,” says a smiling Lena Loeffler, The School’s coordinator of Alumni Relations and Development. “We’re hospitable and enthusiastic, we love being together, and we love being Spartans!”

For more information about The School of Hospitality Business, please visit: www.hospitalitybusiness.broad.msu.edu