Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2022

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS No matter the name, ‘Hospitality’ is golden at Mercyhurst

Perhaps none of the six core values espoused by the Sisters of Mercy is more evident as an academic pillar than compassionately hospitable is to Mercyhurst’s Statler Department of Hospitality Management, now celebrating its 50th year. Founded in 1972 as the Division of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management (HRIM), the program represents Mercyhurst’s unique ability to blend its Mercy mission with groundbreaking experiential learning to prepare students for success. By the 1980s, HRIM was thriving as Mercyhurst’s largest major. Its hands-on learning experiences appealed to eager students.

In 2013, the university’s Hospitality program found a new home on the Erie campus in the newly constructed Center for Academic Engagement, which housed a cutting-edge working classroom where students could hone their cooking skills and operate a fine-dining venue: the J.W. and Alice Marriott Café. The Marriott Café has become a gourmet destination every year with Hospitality’s student-run Dining Series. A $1 million grant from the Marriott Foundation facilitated the upgrades. At about the same time, the program received a $1 million gift from the Statler Foundation, upon which the university christened the Statler Department of Hospitality Management. Department chair at the time, Daryl Georger, was instrumental in securing the two contributions.

Alumni of the Hospitality program are among the university’s most generous donors. Just five years ago, Mercyhurst dedicated the Christopher S. Johnson Wine Room, which holds cherry wine racks, humidity controls, and a custom-made counter for wine tastings. The funding for the project came from a donation from alumnus Chris Johnson. Throughout its history, its esteemed leaders included Frank Pauze, John Wolper, Daryl Georger, Beth Ann Sheldon, and Pete Zohos. Its name may have changed, professors and students have come and gone, and the department has moved its campus location several times, but the quality of the Hospitality Management program has remained consistently high.

Hospitality students face off in "Chopped" contest. (2015)

(NOTE: This story was researched and written by Mercyhurst University archivist Bryan Colvin.)

As part of this emphasis, the department opened The Laker Inn in 1985, a full-service restaurant just east of campus that was partially staffed by HRIM students. The department’s growth necessitated physical expansion, spurring its move to the newly constructed Sullivan Hall in 1987. There, the modern facilities, complete with a specially designed Food Production Lab inspired by top culinary schools, led to even greater prominence as Marriott Corp. named it “the best hospitality program in the nation.” In 1992, HRIM further solidified its reputation for excellence by earning accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. Of the 107 four-year hospitality programs seeking accreditation that year, only 10, including Mercyhurst, earned the distinction. The opening of Mercyhurst’s satellite campus in North East in 1991 gave the Hospitality program another opportunity for expansion by creating an associate degree in Hospitality Management.


Join us as we celebrate 50 years of Hospitality at Mercyhurst beginning Homecoming Weekend. We kick the party off Sept. 28 with a Hospitality Management Alumni/Student Networking Night at 7 on Zoom. Other highlights include an anniversary celebration in the Marriott Café on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. and an alumni gathering on Oct. 1 at Saxon Stadium Lot at 12:30 p.m. For more information or to register, visit .


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