Industry Leaders Offer Expertise to Students in Michigan State’s School of Hospitality Business

Students enrolled in The School of Hospitality Business’s Real Estate Specialization at Michigan State University have recently completed a one-credit “short course” on Hotel Investments and Asset Management, coordinated by Drs. Ray Schmidgall and AJ Singh.

Offered over a span of four Fridays from February 4 through March 25, with a final session on Saturday, March 26, the course featured six different instructors, each of whom is an active asset manager in the lodging industry. The goal was to help the students “think like an owner.”
The course first explained that hotel asset management “is the fiduciary responsibility of managing the lodging investment to meet the specific objectives of ownership.”  The syllabus says that “effective asset management is the maximization of investment value through measurable profit creation and preserved capital growth.”  The instructors integrated lectures, assignments, and cases to introduce the latest techniques in asset management and provide insights into current lodging-market and operational challenges.
All the instructors are alumni of The School.  Jason Rabidoux (BA ‘04), with The Hotel Group, and Blair Wills (BA ‘02), with StepStone Hospitality/Hotel AVE, presented the first session which covered the introduction to the topic of hotel asset management.  The second session featured Katherine Button (BA ‘03), of Crow Holdings and Amar Patel (BA ‘06), with TriMont Real Estate Advisors, discussing franchise agreements and loan documents. 
The third session, on P&L analysis, financial benchmarking, and monthly reporting, was presented by Phil Hutchins (BA ’93), of Amstar Group, and Geoff Ryskamp (BA ‘06), with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. 
The fourth session included all instructors, with Blair and Phil leading the discussion on “hold vs. sell decisions,” as well as the final exam. 
A final session the following morning provided students with interviewing techniques and advice as well as the opportunity to give course feedback.
With the variety of instructors, students received a broad perspective.  “We all have unique industry experiences,” says Amar.  “The companies we individually represent and work for operate in very different capacities within the real estate sector.”
By all accounts, the short course was intense, challenging, and invaluable.  And the instructors may have found a second calling!  Katherine remarked, “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to The School in this way and to help the next generation of students on their paths to success.”
Jason agreed, saying, “Thank you for affording us the opportunity to lead this course.  We truly appreciated the interaction with the students and the chance to expose them to a new career path.” In addition, he adds, “Senior-level students in The School bring a lot to the table in the world of finance, and this course simply expanded upon what Drs. Schmidgall and Singh are already doing through the Real Estate Specialization.  I’m proud to be part of the Real Estate and Development Advisory Council for The School and to work in concert with The School’s professors to further the students’ growth in this field.”
There is a mutual admiration, certainly.  The professors were impressed with the expertise of the alumni instructors, as well as their generosity. “In the midst of their demanding careers, these individuals offered their time and knowledge to our students, covering their own expenses, and going the extra mile,” says Dr. Singh.  “We, and our students, are very grateful.”
About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school, The School has a unique and independent position within Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.  Celebrating its 84th year anniversary in 2011, The School has almost 10,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Founded in 1927, The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers.  The mission of The School is
– to INSPIRE continuous learning by empowering present and future managers to ACQUIRE knowledge, skills, and global Hospitality Business leadership positions
– to CREATE knowledge by engaging in collaborative theoretical and applied research for the benefit of undergraduate and graduate students, Hospitality Businesses, and the community of hospitality management scholars
– to ENGAGE our Hospitality Business partners through outreach and service, and to ENHANCE global Hospitality Business economic, community, and academic development and
– to CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE The School’s global leadership position in Hospitality Business operations: development, ownership, and management.
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