Dept. of CHTM Awards Presented

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) – In an effort to recognize the sacrifices and achievements made by "non-traditional" students, the Department of Casino, Hotel & Tourism Management (CHTM) at The University of Southern of Southern Mississippi created a new award that honors such extraordinary dedication.

The first Spirit of Hospitality Award was presented to Rick Fitzsimmons, director of slots for Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, during the annual College of Business Awards banquet held March 31 at the Thad Cochran Center. Fitzsimmons takes CHTM classes at Southern Miss' Gulf Park campus while continuing his full-time duties with Hollywood Casino.

The realization that most "non-traditional" students (those who left school earlier and returned after a period of time) seldom receive scholarships or awards reserved for "regular" students led to the creation of the Spirit of Hospitality Award.

In selecting the inaugural Spirit of Hospitality Award recipient, Dr. Catherine Price, CHTM chair, noted that Fitzsimmons demonstrates behavior and work ethic qualities that make him an excellent role model for his traditional age classmates. Price commended Fitzsimmons for his attention to deadlines, punctuality and supportive attitude with fellow students.

"Our field is one that is known for rank-and-file promotion and the importance of a college degree was not always as important as experience," said Price. "Experience continues to be primary in placement success. However, the demand for skills acquired in higher education such as financial analysis, critical thinking and such are now demanded by corporations of their management staff, especially when senior management promotions are involved.

"Therefore, to have full-time professionals like Rick in the classroom sends an important message to our students as to the value of higher education for future advancement."

Other CHTM award winners included the following:

Senior Scholar: Emily Adams

This award is presented to the senior with the highest grade point average. The daughter of Larry and Lisa Adams of Gulfport, Emily is a member of the Southern Miss chapter of International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi for business scholars. During the fall of 2009 she represented the College of Business as an intern for the prestigious G2E Conference in Las Vegas. Earlier this year Emily was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society serving business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Emerging Hospitality & Tourism Management Scholars: Rachel Bruff, Noel Spratley, Elaina Spradley

Bruff, the daughter of Randy and Donelle Bruff of New Orleans, is a sophomore tourism management major. She attended Ursuline Academy High School where she graduated fifth in her class with a 4.0 GPA. She has worked in the catering industry for four years and is currently employed by Southern Miss Catering.

Spratley, the daughter of Doug and Susan Spratley of Gautier, Miss., is a freshman tourism management major. During her first year she has been inducted into Phi Eta Sigma, the oldest and most prestigious freshman honor society. She is a Diamond Darling for the Southern Miss baseball team and a Lucky Day Scholar.

Spradley, the daughter of Joey and Lisa Spradley of Hattiesburg, Miss., is a freshman tourism management major. She was a member of the Oak Grove junior and senior high bands while maintaining a 3.8 GPA. She arrived at Southern Miss with the coveted, $4,000 CHTM Purple Parrot Scholarship. She currently works at Fox's Pizza.

For more information about the Department of Casino, Hotel & Tourism Management at Southern Miss call 601-266-4659 or visit

©2009 WDAM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.