McCarty Industry Partner of the Year Award

McCarty Award

In the late 1980s, the Department of Institutional Administration, now known as the Department of Casino, Hospitality & Tourism Management, was chaired by Dr. Margaret M. McCarty.  The most enduring aspect of her legacy was the creation of an industry advisory board, which raised $100,000, and placed it into an endowment that continues to provide significant scholarships for our students.

The members of our industry advisory board are an extremely strong core of individuals that partner in the educational experience of all of the students in our department.  In an effort to acknowledge and promote the importance of the connection between business and education, in 2008, the Department of Tourism Management established an award to recognize an outstanding individual or company that made exceptional contributions to our program, to our faculty, and to our students continuously and in a variety of ways.

After much thought and reflection, we decided to change the artistic motif of this award.  In years past, it has been a pineapple, the symbol of hospitality.  However, to better express the importance of the collaborative relationship between our department and our partners in the workforce, we have chosen a wave.  The wave symbolizes an interdependent relationship that exists between the university and our corporate employers and partners.  This relationship, like the wave, without sustaining support, would collapse and fall silent.


2012 Recipient – Darden’s Talent Acquisition Team

Since opening their first Red Lobster restaurant in Lakeland, FL, in 1968, Darden has grown to become the world’s largest full-service restaurant company.  Through subsidiaries, Darden owns and operates more than 1,900 restaurants, employs 180,000 people and serves more than 400 million meals a year.

The Darden family of restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining:  Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, the Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V’s.

One of the reasons for Darden’s success is the Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence and its Talent Acquisition Team.  The team is responsible for sourcing talent across the United States and Canada.  The team includes 17 Managers, 3 Directors and 3 Specialists.

On behalf of Darden, the team makes multiple visits to the Southern Miss campus each year in their search for exceptional talent.  Our area’s Talent Acquisition Team, Lou Sposato and Chris Morath, have become very familiar faces here at Southern Miss.  They are both members of our department’s Industry Advisory Board.  Therefore, the Talent Acquisition Team for Southern Miss is this year’s very deserving recipient of the Margaret M. McCarty Industry Partner of the Year Award.


Past Recipients

2011 – Larry K. Gregory, Director, Mississippi Casino Operators Association

2010 – Keith Schmitt, Director, Human Resource, New Orleans Marriott

2009 (Golden Pineapple Award) – Rick Taylor, Executive Director, Hattiesburg Convention & Tourism Commissions

2008 (Golden Pineapple Award)– Rich Westfall, President, The Gulf Coast Community Foundation