UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the 30th anniversary of the Conti Professorship, the Penn State School of Hospitality Management has named the 2018-19 visiting professors and announced enhanced engagement of past and future executives named in the program.
Walter Conti, a Penn State trustee emeritus who died in 2016 at the age of 87, served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1992. Conti earned his bachelor’s degree in home economics from Penn State in 1952, becoming a well-known restaurateur and industry leader.
The Conti Professorship Program was established by alumni and friends of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management in 1987 to honor Conti for his contributions to the school, Penn State and the hospitality profession. Beginning in 1988, industry leaders have served each year as guest lecturers as part of this program.
For the 2018-19 academic year, Barry Bloom, president and chief operating officer of Xenia Hotels & Resorts in Orlando, Florida, and John Miles, president and CEO of Steelite International in New Castle, Pennsylvania, will serve as Conti professors.
As part of the anniversary year, Bloom and Miles will visit University Park in both semesters to teach and advise students and faculty in their fields of study or areas of expertise, lecturing, collaborating and advising students and faculty, while also engaging in virtual seminars with undergraduate and graduate students.
“These two thought leaders, with distinctive areas of expertise, demonstrate the diverse pathways to success in our profession,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management. “Their commitment to an extended engagement with the school’s talented faculty and promising students is evidence of what they share in common — a passion for passing on their knowledge and inspiring future leaders and scholars.”
Quadri-Felitti will formally introduce Bloom and Miles as the newest Conti visiting professors at a roundtable discussion May 20 during the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. The event is an industry conference Conti helped elevate and to which many past Conti professors, Conti’s friends and mentees, as well as SHM alumni, students and faculty attend.
Quadri-Felitti and Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and past Conti professor, will moderate the roundtable, which also will be a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Conti Professorship. The third generation of Conti’s family, grandson Mike Conti and granddaughter-in-law Leighan Conti, will be in attendance to remember Walter Conti and celebrate the future of his legacy. Leighan Conti, a 2003 graduate of the school’s undergraduate program, is the new liaison for the Conti family on the visiting professorship to the school.
Bloom held the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer with Xenia or its affiliated entities from 2013 to 2017, when he was appointed president and chief operating officer. In this role, Bloom is responsible for direct oversight of the asset management and project management functions, as well as a variety of strategic and operational corporate functions of Xenia.
From 2011 to 2013, Bloom served as an associate professor of practice in the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University, and from 2010 to 2011, Bloom served as an instructor in the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul University.
Bloom also co-founded and served as a principal for three years of Abacus Lodging Investors LLC, a hotel investment and advisory firm.
Prior to pursuing his academic career, Bloom worked for a variety of leading hotel investment firms, most recently as executive vice president of portfolio management and administration with CNL Hotels & Resorts Inc. from 2003 to 2007, where he was responsible for oversight of the company’s $6.6 billion portfolio.
Prior to CNL, he served as vice president of investment management for Hyatt Hotels Corp. from 2000 to 2003. Additionally, Bloom has worked for Tishman Hotel & Realty, VMS Realty Partners, and Pannell Kerr Forster (now CBRE Hotels).
Bloom received his bachelor of science degree in hotel and restaurant management and master of business administration degree from Cornell University and a doctor of philosophy degree in hospitality management from Iowa State University.
Miles is the third-generation of his family to have worked in the tableware industry, first beginning in the early 1930s.
Miles worked his way through college and upon graduation went to work for Woodmere China. At Woodmere, Miles worked in every department, which provided a solid foundation to understand how products were sourced or manufactured, and how to sell value-added products. He also gained appreciation for design and how to treat a customer.
From Woodmere, he worked at The Homer Laughlin China Co., where he furthered his knowledge of distribution.
Miles joined Steelite International in 1996 as a U.S. regional sales manager. In 1997, he was appointed as national distribution sales manager. In 1998, he accepted the position of national sales manager, and in 2000 he was named vice president of sales. In 2005, Miles advanced to the position of president of the Americas division.
Through Miles’ vision and love of the industry, he has propelled Steelite to become the leading supplier of tabletop products in the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America.
In 2016, Miles and PNC Riverarch Capital acquired Steelite International and Miles was named CEO of the global company.