The internationally-ranked Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech will be renamed the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, in recognition of a generous contribution to the department from hospitality industry icon and longstanding faculty member Howard Feiertag.
“Howard’s gift is a tremendous example of how one person can make a meaningful difference in the life of Pamplin, and in this case, hospitality and tourism management, through his time, talent, and treasure,” said Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast.
Noting that Feiertag came to campus as an instructor after a successful career in hospitality sales nearly 30 years ago, Sumichrast said “his contribution grew as he became a mentor to so many HTM students and alumni, and now culminates with this extremely generous gift that will permanently shape the HTM program.”
Commitment to industry and instruction
Department head Nancy Gard McGehee said: “Naming the program after an industry giant like Howard reflects the department’s commitment to industry outreach and exemplifies our dedication to excellence in instruction and research that is timely and relevant.”
The gifts will help fund a professorship, a research fellowship, departmental operations, and student learning activities. Feiertag already supports a University Libraries research collection aimed at making hospitality research easily accessible to industry professionals, academic faculty, and students.
“Howard’s contribution will take the program to the next level and shape future generations of industry leaders,” said McGehee.
The renaming of the department will occur summer 2018.
Leading a world-class program
Highly regarded nationally and internationally, the department is ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 6 worldwide among hospitality and leisure management programs in the 2017 QS World University Rankings.
“Howard Feiertag is certainly part of the reason Virginia Tech is home to one of the world’s leading hospitality and tourism management programs,” McGehee said.
Through a career spanning more than 55 years, including 28 at Virginia Tech, Feiertag has distinguished himself as a leader and innovator. “Howard is revered not only for his expertise and experience; he embodies what it means to truly make a difference in people’s lives,” McGehee said.
“He is beloved by the thousands of our alumni and industry partners who can attest to how Howard has impacted them personally. I know because I have heard many of these stories, told to me by so many who consider him a mentor,” she added.
A lifetime of service
Last November, Feiertag was honored for his lifetime contributions to hospitality education and practice at a gala held in metro Washington D.C. More than 200 alumni, students, faculty, and hospitality industry leaders attended, and many more contributed to a video montage and 50-page memento book filled with anecdotes and words of thanks.
Feiertag, who holds certifications as a meeting professional, hospitality marketing executive, and hotel administrator, teaches hospitality and tourism management meetings and sales courses.
He has been writing a monthly column for Hotel Management magazine for more than 35 years and is co-author of “Lessons from the Field — A Common Sense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales.”
His numerous industry honors include lifetime achievement awards of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and the Virginia Society of Association Executives Career Services Award, Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders Award, Fellow of the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, and Fellow of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Educational Institute.
At Virginia Tech, Feiertag received the university’s Award for Excellence in Outreach, an honorary lifetime membership in the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, and the Student Choice Award from the Student Alumni Associates.
A World War II and Korean War veteran, Feiertag earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University through the G.I Bill. “As the youngest of 10 children growing up in Brooklyn, college was never even thought of as a possibility,” Feiertag said. “I hope that my contribution can support a program of excellence that will provide opportunities for other young people that they never thought possible.”
Said McGehee: “I am grateful to Howard for demonstrating his trust in our stewardship of his extremely generous contribution. Permanently associating the Feiertag name with the department is an honor.”