Gathering outside the Center for Academic Engagement are Mercyhurst Hospitality faculty, from left, Department Chair Peter Zohos, Allyson Schrimper-Minor, and 40-year veteran Daryl Georger.
Championing the Experience Economy
Today’s consumers aren’t so much about acquiring things as they are desiring experiences, and there is no better industry than hospitality to design and promote them. Personally, Zohos knows a thing or two about experiences. Earlier in his career, he managed large-scale events for Hyatt Hotels, handling parties for Billy Joel, Jennifer Lopez, and Donald Trump. As part of the Experience Economy, Zohos said Mercyhurst’s program is constantly ramping up its curriculum to be current and relevant. During the pandemic, for instance, it stepped up to introduce a class on virtual events. “I like to think of Mercyhurst’s Hospitality program as ‘a business degree on steroids,’” he said. “But, like my colleagues Daryl (Georger) and Allyson (Schrimper-Minor) know well, we are in the business of educating people and creating the best human capital we can.” Daryl Georger reflects on four decades Anyone who knows Daryl Georger knows he has an affinity for storytelling. Ask a question, and you’ll never get a pat answer. For instance, ask if teaching at Mercyhurst was his first choice after graduating from Cornell’s top-ranked hospitality program, and he’ll begin, “Well, actually, I was going to build hotels on the Pacific Rim. …” Eventually, you’ll learn that love got in the way. His girlfriend at the time was studying Hospitality Management at Mercyhurst, where
then-program leaders Frank Pauze and John Wolper seized the opportunity to bring a Cornell grad on board. Long story short, he’s been here ever since: teaching, advising, serving as department chair, networking, fundraising, and juggling temporary coaching stints in football, hockey, and baseball. As Hospitality celebrates 50 years, Georger celebrates 40. Five years ago, at a Service Awards Recognition Ceremony, Georger was lauded for the lengths he would go to network and create opportunities for his students. This sentiment was shared: “Helping students find success at Mercyhurst—as well as after Mercyhurst—is a passion for Daryl. And what’s special is that it doesn’t stop with Daryl. He teaches this kind of networking and nurturing to all his students, so that what he does for them, they do for others.” And that’s what has made the past 40 years so worthwhile. “We never gave up on anybody,” Georger said. Praising his colleagues, department chair Peter Zohos and faculty member Allyson Schrimper-Minor, he said together they shepherded thousands of students through the program, many with five-star careers today. By virtue of his hard work and magnanimous nature, Georger cultivated more than a few industry connections and was instrumental in garnering million-dollar donations from both the Marriott and Statler foundations, leading to the creation of the university’s J.W. and Alice Marriott Café and the Statler Department of Hospitality Management.
By Deborah W. Morton
1972 was a historic year for Mercyhurst University, marking the beginning of what is now the prestigious Statler Department of Hospitality Management, a source of Laker pride, and, for many years, the top-drawing academic program on campus. Homecoming Weekend, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, commences the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hospitality program and marks the 40-year tenure of one of its key figures, Dr. Daryl Georger. (See related story.) “As one of the world’s greatest industries, hospitality has gone through its trials over the past several years because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said department Chair Peter Zohos. “But ours is a resilient industry and we at Mercyhurst are strengthening our brand and charting some exciting paths forward that will help us secure our students’ place in this new future.” Looking forward, Zohos said his department aims to create more industry partnerships, strengthen relationships with its alumni, and grow top-notch general operations managers. “A hospitality degree from Mercyhurst is multidisciplined and can lead to many different careers,” Zohos said. “We consistently produce job-ready graduates, who shine in operations like tourism, events management, visual design, and sales, to name just a few.”
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