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Penn State Names Hilton SVP Bill Fortier and Shaner President Plato Ghinos as Conti Professors

Monday, December 19, 2011
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The Penn State School of Hospitality Management named Bill Fortier, senior vice president of development at Hilton Worldwide, and Plato Ghinos, president at Shaner Hotel Group, as the 74th and 75th Conti Professors. Conti Professors visit the School of Hospitality Management to interact with students and faculty members, to present guest lectures in hospitality and foodservice management, and to speak at graduate and undergraduate colloquia.

Fortier and Ghinos both visited the School of Hospitality Management during the fall 2011 to lead a program and classroom discussion with over 200 students about hospitality real estate and development from both the franchisor and franchisee perspectives. Fortier later hosted 40 students for a day at the Hilton Worldwide headquarters in McLean, Virginia. There, Hilton executives joined Fortier in presenting real estate case studies, giving tours of their concept rooms and reviewing sustainability practices at the nearby Hilton McLean. Ghinos and executives from Shaner Hotel Group are working with the School of Hospitality Management to create an international internship for their new property, Renaissance Il Ciocco Tuscany Resort and Spa in the Tuscany region of Italy. This will be the first international addition to internships already offered to many students at Shaner properties in the local region.

“We are pleased that Bill Fortier and Plato Ghinos, leaders in the real estate sector of the hospitality industry, accepted our offer to join the ranks of over 70 other Conti Professors,” said John O’Neill, director of the School of Hospitality Management. “Hospitality real estate and development is an area of growing interest to our students and this educational program provided a unique opportunity for them to get industry perspective from these executives.”

Hilton Worldwide is a leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels. Its brands are comprised of include more than 3,800 hotels and timeshare properties, with 630,000 rooms in 88 countries.

Shaner Hotel Group is based in State College, Pa, and has a portfolio of over 30 owned and managed hotels. It is part of the Shaner Companies, a diversified, privately held company that owns and operates investments in the lodging, energy and professional services sectors.

Walter J. Conti, for whom the Conti Professorship is named, is a well-known restaurateur and industry leader from Doylestown, Pa. He is the retired owner and chief executive officer of Conti Cross Keys Inn and the Historic Piper Tavern (formerly Conti’s Pipersville Inn), both located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Conti has held various leadership positions in the National Restaurant Association, including a term as chairman from 1981 to 1982, and he is a “diplomat” of the association’s educational foundation. The Conti Professorship Program was established by alumni and friends of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management in 1987 to honor Walter J. Conti for his contributions to the school, to Penn State and to the hospitality profession.
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