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Volume 69, Issue 29, Friday, October 3, 2003


HRM cooks up rankings to out-serve top schools

By Cara Sarelli
The Daily Cougar

Ranking in the nationis top five colleges of its kind is not an easy feat, but thanks to its close proximity to Houstonis booming restaurant industry it is one the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management consistently manages.

Two major characteristics of the school set it apart from others, said John Bowen, dean of HRM, the first being that it is a separate college. 

At many schools, hotel and restaurant management programs are small divisions of bigger business or agriculture schools, he said. 

Dixie Ann Dalton/the Daily Cougar

Hotel and restaurant management senior Trey Thompson, from back, Nina Kuhn and Sal Romero serve up some dishes inside Barron's Restaurant at the UH Hilton. The HRM college is one of best in the nation, but officials want to begin competing with the top schools.

Second, the school has staggeringly high job placement statistics, he said. 

Danny Arocha, the collegeis enrollment manager, said HRM places 98 percent of its graduates. The remaining 2 percent tend to be international students who return to their home countries to work there, he said.

To reach that statistic, the school hosts career fairs each fall and spring semester, said Mary Douglas, director of placement services.

On Oct. 23, representatives from companies in the club, restaurant, hotel and country club industries will be on campus to meet with students months before they graduate, Douglas said.

Another way students get placed in jobs is through internships. 

"A lot of our students can get internships and roll into full-time jobs," Bowen said. 

Many students land internships through an elective management, training and work-experience class, Douglas said.

She said 90 percent of those interns stay with the companies when they graduate.

"It helps them get their foot in the door and get a feel for the company," she said. 

UHis Conrad N. Hilton Hotel is one of only two self-operational Hilton franchises in the country, Bowen said. The other one is on Cornell Universityis campus, he said.

Though its facilities rival those of Cornell, Purdue and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the schoolis enrollment has not yet reached full capacity, Bowen said.

But Arocha, who graduated from HRM in 1995, is working hard to change that and bring more attention and competitive enrollment to his alma mater. 

Bowen said enrollment for the school had been steady, but it increased since Arocha came on board in March. 

This fall, enrollment increased by nearly 20 percent, Arocha said. 

"I believe in the squeaky wheel gets the grease," Arocha said. "Weire promoting our college not as a culinary school but as a business school," he said. 

To promote the school, Arocha speaks at Texas high schools, maintains close ties with community colleges and has formed a group of student ambassadors.

HRM is also hosting its first Annual Fall Recruiting Blitz on Nov. 8. At the event, 330 high school students will tour the college and have a chance to meet with Bowen, HRM faculty, students and alumni. Afterward they will be invited to tailgate at Robertson Stadium and support the Cougars when they play Southern Miss at the homecoming game.

HRM has 850 undergraduates and about 150 graduates, Bowen said. He said the admission requirements for the school would toughen up once the college meets its full undergraduate capacity of 900. 

"I will not rest until Iim fighting with Cornell and Purdue for students," Arocha said, but insisted the school would keep its enrollmentis diversity and large population of nontraditional students.

Conrad N. Hilton financed the founding of HRM after former UH professor James Taylor proposed it. Since the school opened in 1969, the Hilton Foundation has donated $40 million to improve the faculty, technology and construction of the facility, Arocha said. 

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