Dedman College of Hospitality Celebrates 75 Years, Announces Hall of Fame

October 28, 2022
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Dedman College of Hospitality's 75th Anniversary Gala held on Friday, October 21

Florida State University’s Dedman College of Hospitality held its 75th Anniversary Gala on Friday, October 21. The event was attended by a crowd of over 300 people to celebrate past, present, and future successes in the college.

Over $41K was raised through a silent auction and goes directly toward Dedman’s student scholarship fund.

The evening took place at the Dunlap Champions Club and included presentations of the 2022 scholarship recipients, Emerging Professional Awards, and the inaugural induction into the newly established Hall of Fame.

Emerging Professionals

Three alumni were selected for the 2022 Emerging Professional Award. The award recognizes alumni who have graduated from the Dedman College of Hospitality within the past ten years and have shown outstanding professional growth and a commitment to the hospitality industry.

Matt Cahil (’13) graduated with majors in professional golf management and finance. He began his career at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA, and soon became an Assistant Golf Professional at The Kittansett Club in Marion, MA where he worked for just over a year before being recruited to The Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, FL. In 2021, Matt was promoted from Assistant Golf Professional to Head Golf Professional at The Seminole Golf Club, a prestigious club that consistently ranks amongst the top golf courses in the nation.

Alyssa Nelson (’14) earned a degree in hospitality management along with minors in business and entrepreneurship. She entered the hotel industry as a Sales and Marketing Coordinator with Four Seasons Hotel Miami and worked there for two years before accepting a position as Events and Sales Manager at Zuma Restaurants. In 2018, Alyssa leveraged her experience and moved to the banking industry. She began working with JP Morgan Chase as an Event Management Associate and has since earned the title of Vice President and Manager for the company’s southeast regional client centers.

Olivia Weston (’13) majored in hospitality management. She began her career at Waffle House while she was a student and worked as a server. Upon graduating, she entered the Waffle House management program and became a Unit Manager. In the years following, she has been promoted to District Manager, Division Manager, and now Regional Vice-President in the company. Olivia is responsible for 26 restaurants in 3 states, with 35 managers working under her direction, and well over 400 associates.

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Scholarship recipients on stage after being honored
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Olivia Weston and Alyssa Nelson with Dean Farr

Hall of Fame

The highlight of the program was the newly established Hall of Fame. Formerly known as the Alumnus of The Year, the Hall of Fame celebrates individuals who embody the qualities that make the Dedman College of Hospitality an unparalleled place to learn. Inductees have excelled in their careers and have made significant contributions to the college’s mission.

All previous recipients of the Alumnus of the Year were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Of the twenty-eight past awardees, twelve inductees were able to attend: Jim Riscigno (1995), Ken Creely (1997), Chris Borders (2001), Jeff O’Hara (2004), Bill Wagner (2005), Cyd Bougae (2006), Anne Hamilton (2008), Joe Douglas (2010), Carol Dover (2012), Janine Budzius (2017), Brian Ford (2018) and Tony Leung (2020).

Nancy and Robert H. Dedman Sr. were announced as the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees. Dedman Sr., who passed away in 2002, was the founder of Dallas-based ClubCorp, a leading operator of golf courses, private clubs, and resorts. His ambition for success was clear early on in life. He set a life goal at just eighteen – to make $50 million by age 50 and give $1 million a year to charity. He would end up going above and beyond this goal.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Dedmans would create their connection with Florida State University. At that time, FSU hospitality graduate, Jim Riscigno, began a career with ClubCorp and worked his way up to executive leadership.

In the 90’s, discussions were taking place on campus on funding the final building of FSU’s University Center complex at the south end of Doak Campbell Stadium. Ideas were also brainstormed about relocating the hospitality department to the proposed building and possibly partnering it with a lodging and food facility. Seeing the potential for a mutually beneficial partnership, Riscigno approached Dedman with a proposal to work with the university and the request was honored.

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Past Alumnus of the Year recipients were inducted into the Hall of Fame
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Jim Riscigno accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of the Dedman family

In 1999, The Dedman Foundation donated $7 million, later matched by the State of Florida, to the department of hospitality administration and to establish the Dedman Endowment in Hospitality at Florida State University. In 2001, the department became the Dedman School of Hospitality.

“The Dedman’s support has been instrumental in the college’s success,” said Don Farr, dean of the Dedman College of Hospitality. “Their generosity provides resources needed for us to continuously improve the quality of education. Thanks to Nancy and Robert, we are a top 5 hospitality and tourism program in the nation.”

ClubCorp also contributed $1.5 million towards the completion of the University Center and to establish the University Center Club.

75 Years of Dedman

Thank you to the 75th Anniversary Gala title sponsor, Legends Hospitality, as well as all table sponsors: 4Rivers, Aramark/Seminole Dining, Cape Resorts, Marriott International, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Riscigno, Philadelphia Country Club, REH Capital Partners, RNDC, The Points Guy, The Walt Disney Company, Tri-Eagle Sales, Trinchero Family Estates, and Troon.