Excellence in Teaching
Associate Professor of Hospitality Management
Whittemore School of Busniess and Economics
Right: Udo Schlentrich visits UNH hospitality management interns at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa in New Castle, N.H.
Old world, new school
Early on, Udo Schlentrich set some ambitious goals. His life's dream and plan were one and the same: learn everything possible, build an impressive career, and share his expertise.
He seems to have succeeded. The Austrian–born son of a college professor and prima ballerina, Schlentrich has explored the world while building a jaw–dropping résumé in the field of hospitality management. Today, his students at the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics are among the many benefactors.
At age 19, Schlentrich took a job on a Swedish American luxury liner, setting sail on a 90–day around–the–world cruise. It was the beginning of a life full of hard work and high adventure. On the high seas, he met Howard Johnson, founder of the hotel franchise, who encouraged his budding interest in a hospitality career.
After an apprenticeship at a five–star German hotel and degrees from the renowned Lausanne Hotel School and Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Schlentrich set out to build the career of his dreams.
He went to work for Hilton International, where he launched and managed hotel properties from New York to Sydney and developed the food and beverage operations at Manhattan's World Trade Center. In 1974, he co–founded the Omni Hotels corporation. Over the next 15 years, he managed five first–class properties, including London's Dorchester Hotel, among the world's top three luxury hotels at the time.
Today, UNH hospitality management majors benefit from what Schlentrich gives back—a wide–ranging expertise in old– and new–world hospitality, and a life steeped in rich experiences.
"Shaping well–rounded students is extremely important," he says. "I try to give students examples from my life, showing them the importance of finding good mentors and gaining a strong knowledge base that will lead to better opportunities in the industry, and lead to a more fulfilling life."
He sends his students outside the classroom to experience the hospitality industry's many facets—from the restaurants to the front desk—through internships. They work at world–class hotels such as Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea, Omni's Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Ritz–Carlton in Hong Kong, and the Four Seasons in Hawaii.
In the industry, Schlentrich is very much in demand. Consulting projects keep him immersed in the business and sharp in the classroom. His students benefit from these projects, through direct involvement or classroom case studies. Recently, an entire class worked on developing the plans for a popular new bistro–style restaurant in Portsmouth. Schlentrich says such projects help students "see the value in what they do and they become more committed.
"There is a lot of peer pressure to land a high–level, high–paying job right after graduation," Schlentrich says. He encourages students to follow their passions rather than chase the money, and says that "being passionate and patient, and learning as much as possible" about every aspect of the industry, gives graduates a bankable résumé.
But it's the lessons of his father, the lessons he has followed throughout his own life so far, that he imparts most passionately: success is not an entitlement, it must be earned every day. Find work that you are passionate about. Have fun, and share your knowledge and success with others. "That's been my life dream," says Schlentrich. "And so far I've lived a life beyond my wildest dreams."