Kansas State University


Department of Hospitality Management

A Message from the Department Head

Welcome to the Department of Hospitality Management 2019 fall newsletter.  We just celebrated Thanksgiving and the end of the semester is close, followed by finals and commencement ceremonies. We had many exciting events, visitors and accomplishments that have occurred over the past year.  In the following pages, we’ve highlighted several of the more notable ones. I encourage you to read through our newsletter for interesting information from our department.    Continue reading “A Message from the Department Head”

Department Faculty Highlight

Ashley McCowan  

Born and raised in Georgia, Ashley is joining us from the College of Veterinary Medicine on campus where she worked as an Event Coordinator for the last 5 years, helping to plan the college’s events, conferences and managing alumni affairs. Prior to Vet Med, she worked with a sports management and entertainment company, The Colonnade Group, as an Assistant Director of Crimson Tide Hospitality and Director of Ahearn Fund Athletic Hospitality, working in the premium seating and club areas within the athletic departments. Ashley is a graduate of the Restaurant and Hospitality Management program from the University of Alabama and has her master’s degree in Sport Management and Administration from there as well. She was a competitive gymnast all the way through college and still enjoys all aspects of the sport. Ashley’s husband, Josh, works in the Athletic Department with the Ahearn Fund. They are expecting their first child in December.




Ericka Bauer 


Ericka started at K-State in September of 2019 moving from Orlando, FL after earning her master’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and two graduate certificates from the University of Central Florida. 

She has worked in alternating food service operations for 20 years and has transitioned over to the academic side of the hospitality industry, educating the next generation of hospitality students to become successful leaders in the industry.  She has worked for several notable companies including Club Med, The Walt Disney Company, Aramark, and Southern Foodservice Management; as well as many independent restaurants including one of the top ranked restaurants in Philadelphia. 

Ericka cooked 2 years for the University of Central Florida athletics and is enjoying Wildcat football along with basketball, and is transitioning from Penn State University ice cream to KSU Call Hall ice cream. She was surprised about the local delicacy of cinnamon rolls pairing with chili. She also enjoys hiking the Appalachian Trail and can’t wait to hike the Konza. 


3rd Annual Hospitality Summit

Fifteen students in the Business Events Management senior capstone class planned and facilitated this year’s Hospitality Summit on October 30, 2019.

 The event was hosted in the K-State Alumni Center, and featured a full day of events. The Summit began with internship presentations by HM 375 students.

 After presentations, students had the choice of two breakout sessions to learn about entrepreneurship or off premise catering. Then students went to the Keynote speaker.

The keynote speaker for this event was K-State Hospitality Management graduate Husam Kakish. He works at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. His presentation detailed how he got to where he is by taking the road less traveled.

 After the keynote speaker, students ate a sandwich and side lunch catered by Lacy’s and enjoyed a networking lunch session. Then students attended their final workshop session choosing between owning and operating a private event venue, and a social media workshop.

STR Market Competition in NYC

Hospitality Management students attended the STR Market competition in NYC on November 10, 2019. This is a culmination of a large research project in HM 664 ,Advanced Lodging Operations with associate professor, Dr. Jichul Jang.

The students worked hard during a two months prep time, and they represented K-State very well at the NYC competition,” stated Dr. Jang. 


The following three students competed in this competitionMaggie Clarke, Derek Gimson, and Derek Hoisington.

World of Wines

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things in the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and if offers the greatest range of enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other sensory thing.” —Ernest Hemmingway 


Fall is the time for HM’s annual event series – World of Wines. This year’s World of Wines consisted of two events.  The first event was a Wine & Cheese Tasting Workshop and Sommelier Cristina Milostan walked guests through each wine and cheese pairing. Participants were given 6 wines and 6 cheese pairings. At the second World of Wines event, Cristina presented three Cava and Small Bites, in which sparkling wines were paired with a variety of hors d’oeuvres.  


The goal for World of Wines was to raise awareness of the hospitality management program across campus and among the community. Proceeds from ticket sales went toward our Graduate Students and Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarships. Attendees included K-State students and faculty as well as members of the Manhattan community. We are very pleased with the success of the events thanks to a special group of students and faculty that helped to pull them off.   

Celebration of Excellence Award Winners

The Department of Hospitality Management was honored to have two award winners during this year’s Celebration of Excellence. The award winners spent time on campus meeting with students and faculty along with attending an awards reception. Read below to learn more about Karen Hibbard and Scott Sieben. 


Karen Hibbard


Karen Hibbard was awarded The College of Health and Human Sciences Partner Award to honor her sustained partnerships with the college to enhance student and faculty research, internships, or other educational opportunities. Karen Hibbard has been a key leader helping visitors and native residents find their best spot for enjoying the Kansas Flint Hills and the Kansas Capital of Fun. 

A member of the Manhattan community for over 40 years, Hibbard first joined the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce in 1978. After time away, Hibbard rejoined the chamber in 1997 as the convention sales manager for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2005, she was named director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and was promoted to vice president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2007. 


Scott Sieben

Scott Sieben was recognized with the Entrepreneur Award honoring his entrepreneurial spirit and success in business. Scott has more than 15 years’ experience in the restaurant business. He was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas, and received his bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Kansas State University in 2008. 

In 2010, Sieben and his wife, Lindsay, purchased Mr. K’s Café and Bar in Manhattan. They saw a need for a local restaurant and bar on the west side of town that offered a unique menu that wasn’t bar food. They chose to eliminate the use of a fryer and focus on fresh and different food. They added Mr. K’s Mobile Kitchen in 2015 to have the ability to take their food on the road. In 2018, the Sieben’s purchased Kite’s Bar and Grill in Aggieville to maintain the bar’s K-State tradition. 

Student Spotlight: Mary Ernst

My name is Mary Ernst and I am a senior in Hospitality Management with an emphasis in the Meeting and Event Management track. I come from a military family, but have been happy to call Manhattan home for the last 15 years. Event planning has always been a passion of mine, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in life. This semester I had the opportunity to help with two events for the College of Health and Human Sciences. Continue reading “Student Spotlight: Mary Ernst”

Student Spotlight: Stephen Hager

My name is Stephen Hager and I am a non-traditional senior in the Food & Beverage track in Hospitality Management. I am married to my wonderful wife, Elli Hager, who is currently an academic advisor for open option students in the Arts & Sciences department. I recently just turned 30, so it’s never too late to go back to school to follow your dreams!

I sort of fell into the hospitality department after leaving the Air Force when I started working at a bar in a small Kansas town. I worked my way through all the positions, and fell in love with the industry. I worked my way up to management in that bar, then transferred to managing an Arby’s for three years. I knew that to take my career in the direction I wanted, I would need to go back to school.

I am graduating this December. In my first semester I was undecided, splitting my classes between the Entrepreneurship degree and the Hospitality Management Degree. I immediately formed the opinion that the Hospitality Management program would be the better choice to help me achieve my eventual goal of opening my own restaurant, bar, and arcade.

In my time at Kansas State I have served as the Vice President of Eta Sigma Delta, and I have also served as the Treasurer for the Hospitality Management Club. I would recommend to any other students to get involved. These two clubs have opened doors that would otherwise have been closed, including going to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.

In the future, I hope to open my own concept, but in the more immediate future I’m looking to stay in Manhattan, filling a lead position in a local restaurant.


Special Lecture from Dr. Richard Robinson

Dr. Richard Robinson, associate professor at the University of Queensland, Australia joined the Hospitality Management students and faculty to discuss his research on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Dr. Robinson’s research projects explore tourism and hospitality workforce policy and planning, skills development, identifying ‘foodies’ consumer behaviors and designing and evaluating education programs. 

Hospitality Management professor selected to serve on national panel and is recipient of the Dawley Scholarship Award for Faculty Excellence in Student Development

Junehee Kwon, professor in hospitality management, was invited to serve National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Allergen Certificate Examination Job Task Analysis panel. She was one of 12 panel members comprised of industry leaders in food safety and food allergy management and prevention. Kwon was invited to the panel based on her food allergy research. She was the only food allergy educator/researcher in the panel, which was charged to revalidate job tasks to prevent food allergy reactions in restaurants and other foodservice establishments. 

Kwon also received recognition from the College of Health and Human Sciences, earning the Dawley-Scholer Award for Faculty Excellence in Student Development based on her contribution to graduate education in the Department of Hospitality Management. Dr. Kwon has been an advocate for graduate education and chaired 11 doctoral students’ supervisory committees since joining Kansas State University in 2008. Her students are employed in higher education institutions in the U.S. and abroad including Auburn University, University of Missouri, Mahidol University in Thailand, University of North Texas, and Oklahoma State University, to name a few. She also has led the graduate programs since 2014, strengthening teaching and grantsmanship competencies for all doctoral students.

Hospitality Management Club Veterans Day Breakfast

In honor of Veterans Day, the Hospitality Management Club, a student group in the hospitality management department, invited all students, faculty and staff to a breakfast, Monday, Nov. 11, at Lacy’s Fresh Fare and Catering in Justin Hall’s Hoffman Lounge. 

Breakfast was open to the public for a $5 fee while all veterans, active-duty military personnel, those who serve in the Reserve or National Guard, ROTC cadets and K-State police will receive complimentary breakfast. The meal will include biscuits and gravy, sausage links, orange juice and coffee. 

Lacy’s Fresh Fare and Catering is a student-operated teaching lab in the hospitality management department of the College of Health and Human Sciences. 

HM 663 Capstone Business Event Management Class

The HM 663 Capstone Business Event Management Class took a trip to visit three venues associated with Sporting KC on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. They were able to visit with three 4 team members of the Sporting KC team: John Moncke, Executive Vice President, Stadium and Brand Revenue; Selena Corpuz, Director, Event Sales and Experience; Nikki Romolo, Vice President, Hospitality; and Sheena Sweatman, Director of Sales for KC Live! And The Gallery Event Space. The venues the students visited were: Pinnacle National Development Center for training, Children’s Mercy Park and No Other Pub located in the Power and Light District. The class toured over 15 event spaces associated with these venues and participated in a real life practical discussion involving the exclusive caterer for Children’s Mercy Park – City Foods.