Two individuals in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University were recognized at the annual Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference, hosted by Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association April 17 – 19 this year in Lansing, MI. They received awards that bear the name of R.D. Musser and his family, owners of historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. R. D. Musser was an integral part of the world class property for over 60 years, first working there as a college student in 1951, becoming its president in 1960, and then with his wife Amelia purchasing it in 1979. He passed away in April 2013. His family continues to own and lead the iconic hotel.
Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77) was named the R.D. Musser Hotelier of the Year at the Monday evening Stars of the Industry gala. A general manager early in his career, Dr. Cichy returned to MSU for advanced degrees and to pursue an academic career. He served as The School’s director from 1988 – 2013 and continues to teach and conduct research. Dr. Cichy was introduced by Bob Pierce (BA ’83), a member of the MLTA Board of Directors, a Hall of Fame member of The School’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the General Manager of the Dearborn Inn. Bob spoke of Dr. Cichy’s positive influence on thousands of students and alumni who have gone on to help shape the hospitality industry. Under his leadership, Bob noted, The School had undergone a significant “rebranding” to become The School: the “number one public hospitality program in the nation.”
The audience of nearly 1,000 stood as the surprised Dr. Cichy took the stage and first acknowledged the hard work and leadership of the MLTA retiring President and CEO Steve Yencich. He then said, “The Musser family embodies gracious hospitality, and it has been a privilege in my career to be able to send students to Grand Hotel as interns and staff members where they learned from the very best.”
He continued, “In my career as director of The School, we tried every day to honor the intention of the leaders of the Michigan Hotel Association who in 1927 helped found our School. They called on MSU to educate and guide the future leaders of the hospitality industry. It has been my humble pleasure to do just that. It has been a joy to watch students graduate, work hard, lead fulfilling lives, and make their mark on our industry, many right here in our beautiful State. I am so proud of our alumni. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The next day, senior Caitlyn Kuskowski (BA ’16) was named this year’s Musser Family Grand Hotel Scholar. Recognized for her tireless energy as a student leader in The School’s Hospitality Association and student chapters of AH&LA and PCMA, Caitlyn has also completed an internship with the JW Marriott in Austin, TX. She serves as assistant to The School’s Alumni Relations and Development Coordinator Lena Loeffler. In early April she attended the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s annual convention as one of The School’s student representatives. Caitlyn’s father Chet traveled from Rochester Hills to attend the award ceremony.
“I have worked closely with both Ron and Caitlyn,” says Lena Loeffler. “Ron is a visionary leader, and Caitlyn is an enthusiastic and talented young woman who gives hospitality from the heart. I am encouraged by both of them.”