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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Pictured in the banner image are distinguished alumni and friends of the college award winners Mamee Groves, Ava Jones, Barney Allman and the Statler Foundation

2020 HRSM Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the College Award recipients

By Allen Wallace,
Posted on October 12, 2020

The University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management is proud to announce the winners of its 2020 Distinguished Alumni and Friends Awards. The awards recognize alumni and industry partners who have established a strong record of distinction in their respective fields and who exemplify responsible citizenship within their communities.

HRSM Distinguished Alumni Award: Mamee Groves, 2004

 Mamee Groves is regional vice president of food and beverage at ClubCorp, the largest owner and operator of private clubs in the United States. She oversees the food and beverage operations for 46 private golf, business and country clubs in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Groves earned her master’s degree in international hospitality and tourism management in 2004 and was a national champion track and field student-athlete as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina. Her career began after meeting a regional director for Hyatt Hotels at a career fair on campus.

She worked for Hyatt for 12 years, starting as an assistant restaurant manager and working her way up to director of operations at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Moving to ClubCorp in 2016, she served as a regional director of food and beverage before earning promotion to regional vice president in 2019.

While with Hyatt she was a three-time manager of the quarter and served as chair for Women@Hyatt and Hyatt Black Diversity initiatives. She is also a certified sommelier and a member of the Women in Food Service forum and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Groves has remained involved with the College of HRSM, serving as a mentor and professional development champion for students. She has given numerous guest lectures, supported scholarship fundraisers and assisted students and fellow alumni with career networking.

HRSM Distinguished Young Alumni Award: Ava Jones, 2014

Ava Jones is the director of operations with Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) Louisville. CSC is a crowd management and security company serving more than 200 cities in the United States and Canada.

As Louisville director of operations, Jones serves as event security director for Churchill Downs. She manages all security needs for the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Thurby and other events, leading teams of more than 1,000 people.

Jones emerged as a star in her first year at the University of South Carolina, earning a job at the London Olympics. She also completed a student internship with USA Triathlon, earning a promotion to membership services coordinator. While on campus, she served as director for the Sport Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow (SEVT) Conference and volunteered her time as an HRSM ambassador.

Since graduating magna cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in sport and entertainment management in 2014, Jones has risen quickly in the industry. She began working with CSC in 2017 and made a name for herself in Miami, running Miami Marlins games, Florida Atlantic University athletics events, and BB&T Center events.

She helped launch the Spokane branch of CSC in January 2019, then accepted her current role at Churchill in October of the same year. In 2019 alone, she helped run 626 events, including seven in a single day.

During her still-young career, she has already worked the Olympics, two Masters tournaments, two Indy 500 races, national governing bodies national and world championships, games in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB along with many NCAA events, the Super Bowl, arena and stadium concerts, Broadway shows, political events including the Democratic National Convention, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (one of the largest events of its kind in the world).

Due in part to her work, CSC Spokane earned the company’s Branch of the Year Award in 2019.

Jones has been quick to help the sport and entertainment program as an alumna, serving as a Case Cup judge for two SEVT conferences and as a young alumni panelist.

HRSM Distinguished Service Award: Barney Allman

Barney Allman is a legend in the College of HRSM. Now retired, the former senior instructor and assistant chair in the Department of Retailing taught more than 10,000 HRSM students over more than two decades of service.

Allman, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Carolina, was a first-generation college graduate. His father worked in a sawmill and his mother in the cotton fields.

While at the College of HRSM, Allman taught management classes which were required for all HRSM students, spreading his influence far beyond his department. He was known for drawing on his personal experiences and work as a business owner (of Skateland USA in Columbia and Florence) for his lectures.

Allman was recognized for his teaching excellence with the UofSC Advisor of the Year Award and the College of HRSM Harry E. Varney Teacher of the Year Award. Since retirement, Allman has supported the college as a donor and as a mentor and friend to countless alumni, faculty and staff.

He credits his success to “wonderful people who helped me along the way,” mentioning Dean Harry E. Varney, John Duffy, Pat Moody, Richard Clodfelter and Linda Norris. He also says he looks back fondly on many students who were a pleasure to teach, adding that he would list them all if he could.

Allman is currently enjoying retirement with his wife, Helena, who is an assistant professor at the University of West Florida, and their daughter Margaret, who will soon turn 4. He also has an adult son, Jason, and baby granddaughter Alex. His brother, Rocky, is also his business partner.

Distinguished Friend of the College Award: The Statler Foundation

The Statler Foundation has played a transformational role in the education of College of HRSM students, providing generous donations over the last three years to support scholarships and initiatives in the college.

The foundation, based in New York and created in 1934, continues to honor the wishes of the late hotelier Ellsworth Statler as expressed in his will. The foundation’s ongoing goal is to support the growth of the hospitality industry. E.M. Statler once said “The only way to success is by hard work, thrift and service to others.”

The foundation continues Statler’s legacy by providing grants and scholarships to hospitality students and programs all over the country. Students in the College of HRSM have been the beneficiaries of the generous fund which has supported travel scholarships to study in the Galapagos islands as well as general academic scholarships. The Scholarship of Excellence program rewards the best and brightest students, including HRSM alumni Parker Coggins (2018) and Florencia Laber (2019).

Grants awarded in 2018 and 2019 from the foundation also funded much needed renovations and improvements to the historic McCutchen House, the college’s student-run restaurant and management laboratory. Thanks to the generosity of the foundation, McCutchen House recently added upgraded kitchen equipment and dramatically improved the dining space throughout, providing an enhanced experience for students and visitors.

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