WSU’s Umbreit Receives Top International Industry Award

PULLMAN, Wash. — W. Terry Umbreit, director of Hotel and Restaurant Administration at Washington State University, will receive the highest award presented to educators worldwide in the fields of hospitality and tourism.

The international Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education will present Umbreit with the “Howard B. Meek Award” at its annual convention and exposition July 26 in Toronto. The award recognizes lifetime contributions and outstanding service to hospitality education. It is named for the late professor Meek, who taught in the hospitality program at Cornell University, was a CHRIE officer and is credited with helping establish hospitality education as an academic discipline.

“Dr. Umbreit embodies what the Meek Award and CHRIE are all about,” says Reg Foucar-Szocki, CHRIE chairman. “Terry recognizes the importance of young faculty members, every student, and partnerships that must exist between our industry and academia.

“Terry has helped to build the tremendous reputation that the WSU HRA program enjoys. It is the only American program to offer its own degree in hospitality in Europe, and many other programs are being modeled after WSU’s. Terry has also devoted years of service to CHRIE as an officer and a member.” Umbreit is a past chair and president of CHRIE, and in 1992 received the organization’s Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award that is given to exceptional educators for contributing innovative ideas, methods, or programs that have advanced teaching, learning, or practice in hospitality and tourism education.

Umbreit is the third WSU HRA director to receive the Meek Award, which is CHRIE’s top award. Lothar Kreck, WSU HRA professor emeritus, received it in 1985 and the late, former director Donald Greenaway in 1981. At last year’s CHRIE awards ceremony, WSU HRA professor Denney Rutherford received the John Wiley & Sons Research Award, recognizing his scholarship and research in hospitality and tourism.

Umbreit earned a doctorate at WSU and has taught in the acclaimed HRA program since 1975 and has led it since 1979. Under his direction, HRA has strengthened its international presence, continually updated its curriculum, boosted recruiting and enrollment efforts, and built a strong advisory committee.

Umbreit has devoted nearly three decades of service to the hospitality industry — from academic activities to appointments on national and state professional associations, committees and programs. In February, he became president of the Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation, having served previously as both its vice president and secretary/treasurer. He served on the board of the American Hotel & Motel Association’s Educational Institute. In 1998, Umbreit was ranked among the top 12 percent of the most cited hospitality faculty in the world.

WSU HRA is a worldclass hospitality program housed within an accredited College of Business & Economics. Students must complete 1,000 internship hours to graduate and the average student receives nearly five job offers when his/her studies are complete. Beyond the 300 students enrolled in HRA at WSU’s main campus in Pullman, another 62 students are in a sister program at University Center César Ritz in Brig, Switzerland. Brig students graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Hotel & Restaurant Administration from WSU; many come to America for employment in hospitality. The WSU HRA program is the only one of its kind in the Northwest; the closest similar program is nearly 1,000 miles away.

CHRIE has 1,350 members in 45 countries around the world. Its purpose is to create and sustain opportunities for hospitality educators’ professional development; support quality assurance initiatives and standards; and foster networking and information sharing. Its headquarters is in Richmond, Va.