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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

UofSC HRSM Fall 2021: a look back

The fall 2021 semester began August 16 and concluded with commencement on December 13. That’s only 120 days, even including weekends and holidays, but a lot can happen in 172,800 minutes. Here are some of the highlights from the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.

The excitement began immediately with the grand opening of Gamecock iHub, UofSC’s Apple Authorized Campus Store. Operated by the Department of Retailing, the store is only the second in the nation to incorporate experiential learning into its business model. 

The arrival of new students is always a fun part of the new school year, and this semester’s newcomers included the latest cohort of Tepper Scholars. Created in 2020, The Nicole and David Tepper Scholars Program recruits the best and brightest sport and entertainment management students and enriches their education opportunities, and ultimately their careers.

The College of HRSM was excited to welcome students back to campus after more than a year of distance and hybrid classes. The college started the semester with a display of hospitality for new and returning students alike, including free breakfast, help getting to class and a welcome luau for all HRSM students. Village Juice, the new cafe in the Close-Hipp Building, also made its debut and became a popular stop.

The good news continued even before classes began, with the news that HRSM’s hospitality and tourism management program ranks first in the SEC, No. 9 in the U.S. and No. 17 worldwide. UofSC Interim President Harris Pastides presided over a celebration of the success. 

With vaccinations available and pandemic restrictions eased, many beloved parts of campus life returned. The McCutchen House restaurant opened to the public again, with hospitality management students gaining hands-on industry experience. Internship opportunities blossomed, and students learned on the job at events like the Duke’s Mayo Classic, NASCAR races at Darlington, and of course college football at Williams-Brice and on the road, all the way through conference championship games. Representatives from Augusta National came to campus to recruit for the 2022 Masters tournament, and many students received the good news just before the holidays that they were hired and will be headed to Augusta in April. 

HRSM’s wide variety of student organizations also returned to in-person meetings and activities. Newly added this fall was HRSM underREPRESENTED, founded by students Richelle Thompson, Alyssia Ross and Khynnedi Starnes. The new organization caters to minority HRSM students seeking to advance their skills and professional development through roundtables and events.

The semester also brought lots of individual academic success. First-generation college student Alyssa Addamo won the Statler Foundation’s $25,000 Scholarship of Excellence, awarded annually to the best and brightest hospitality management students from all over the United States. Lexie Bado, also a hospitality management major, became one of just seven nationwide recipients of the Joe Perdue Scholarship, presented by the Club Management Association of America. Interim Dean David Cardenas assembled a diverse group of outstanding students to serve on the Dean's Leadership Council.

HRSM faculty also continued to excel. Brian Mihalik won a 2021 Garnet Apple teaching award from UofSC. Robin DiPietro and Jeff Campbell kicked off a new project to advance environmental sustainability education in hospitality and retail management degree programs, winning a $300,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Kawon (Kathy) Kim won the EuroCHRIE 2021 Research Award for her work with Professor Melissa Baker of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Khalid Ballouli began serving as president of the Sport Marketing Association. Grace Yan was recognized as reviewer of the year by the International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship.

HRSM was also honored to host an impressive lineup of guest speakers and industry partners. Waffle House President and CEO Walt Ehmer presented the Fall 2021 HRSM Dean's Executive Lecture. Kate Spade Chief Marketing Officer Jenny Campbell gave a guest lecture to retailing students. The annual SEVT Conference brought an all-star roster including Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC co-owner Nicole Tepper, Salamander Hotels and Resorts CEO and Washington Mystics president and co-owner Sheila Johnson and Charlotte FC President Nick Kelly. Dozens of industry leaders came to recruit HRSM students for internships and jobs at the HRSM Experience Expo and in individual visits.

After a virtual version in 2020, HRSM Homecoming returned in person. Peter Wallace, Aaron Henderson, Catherine Gustafson and the Isdell Family Foundation were recognized with Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the College Awards, and alumni and friends from all over the world gathered for the annual party at McCutchen House.

A 1960 UofSC alumnus gave HRSM a gift to brighten not only this semester but also many to come. NASCAR legend Howard “Humpy” Wheeler’s generous gift established an endowed scholarship which will be awarded to students majoring in sport and entertainment management, with preference given to underrepresented students. All HRSM scholarship donors and current recipients were invited to a reception at McCutchen House.

The semester concluded with the HRSM Hooding and Cording ceremony, a special recognition of those graduating with honors and advanced degrees, followed by UofSC commencement.

Interim Dean David Cardenas says “As I reflect on the past semester, I am reminded of what a difference one semester can be from the next. As we have adjusted and refocused to our new normal, I cannot express how delighted I have been to see our classrooms full of eager learners, HRSM sponsored events hosted on campus and the roar of the crowd at Williams Brice Stadium! While this semester has not been without its challenges, I am amazed and proud at all that we have accomplished this semester under some difficult circumstances. I am enthusiastically looking forward to the Spring 2022 semester with the full confidence that HRSM faculty, staff and students will continue to be leaders in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. Go Gamecocks.”

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