Jerry and Angelina Burtenshaw’s Educational Legacy Celebrates 40th Anniversary
By Sue McMurray
Being recognized for creating a legacy, while often accompanied by accolades, gratitude, and VIP status, is sometimes a bittersweet experience for philanthropists. And that is because the word “legacy” often signifies something has transpired that caused them either a tremendous amount of pleasure and success, or a tremendous amount of pain.
In the case of WSU Legacy Associates Jerry and Angelina Burtenshaw, a couple who are among the Carson College School of Hospitality Business Management’s (SHBM) most generous and dedicated supporters—it was both.
For Jerry (’56 H&RA), chairman emeritus of ABC Services, success has always been a family affair, beginning with his boyhood days of working state fair concession stands with his parents and continuing through to his presidency of a highly successful, international catering and contracting business, Alpine-Burtco International.
But tragedy struck when the couple’s son Brett, who was preparing to enter WSU as the family’s third generation in the hospitality business, was struck down in an automobile accident.
Choosing to turn their loss into opportunity for others and commemorate Brett’s life, the Burtenshaws created a legacy of professional development opportunities spanning four decades within WSU’s hospitality school.
Burtenshaw Distinguished Lecture Series Provides Real-World Perspective, Fuels Career Aspirations
Each spring, Carson College hospitality majors don professional business attire and gather as a community of learners to attend the Burtenshaw Distinguished Lecture Series, an unparalleled learning opportunity that complements curricula taught in the SHBM.
Established in 1981, the lecture series exposes students to the career insights of hospitality professionals in one of the world’s largest industries.
According to the testimonials of several HBM graduates who went on to become very successful business leaders, spending time at the annual event was priceless.
Joe Fugere (’84 H&RA), founder and CEO of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, attended every Burtenshaw lecture as a student.
“The lectures provided a real-world perspective and perfectly complemented material and perspectives shared by my professors, textbooks, or other scholastic endeavors,” he says.
After listening to several speakers in the series, Fugere observed how much each of them were living examples of their company’s culture. “This really stuck with me, and years later when I took on senior leadership positions at other companies and started my own company, values, purpose, and leading by example all played hugely important roles,” he says.
Fugere says his dream of becoming a Burtenshaw lecturer came true in 2011 when he presented “Do What You Love” on the Pullman campus. Joining the cadre of iconic industry speakers including Seattle restauranteur Victor Rosellini and Westin Hotels CEO Harry Mulliken was an extreme honor, he says.
2020 Burtenshaw lecturer Jan Hazelton (’83 H&RA) says she loved sharing her diverse professional insights with students and encouraging a new generation of hoteliers to plunge into the industry. She spoke candidly about the highs and lows in her international career journey, including how she got her current position in London as Kerzner International’s vice president of development—Europe and the Americas, as well as facing gender economic inequality and being laid off during times of recession.
“I highly encourage students to attend the Burtenshaw lecture,” says Hazelton. “Everyone has a journey and a story, and they are all different. Learning about people and their experiences can be very inspirational. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your network; you never know where it will lead you.”
Tim Mulligan (’90 H&RA), chief human resources officer at Vulcan Inc., recalls how inspired he felt as a senior attending the Burtenshaw lecture featuring Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. “It was great to hear about a different side of the industry—how you could make an amazing and fruitful career working for a pizza chain like Godfather’s,” he says. “This opened our eyes to the unlimited options in the types of companies we wanted to work for and build a career.”
Mulligan’s comments get at the heart of Jerry and Angelina’s vision for the lecture series.
Besides honoring Brett’s memory, Jerry says the most satisfying thing about establishing the lecture series is spreading the word about the WSU hospitality program and showing aspiring students the breadth of opportunities available in the hospitality industry.
“There is a misconception that a career in hospitality alludes to flipping hamburgers,” he says. “The 70 diverse speakers we’ve had over the past four decades have shown students the variety of industry roles that are possible.”
Burtenshaw Career Night Provides Internships and Jobs
In 2009, the Burtenshaws established the Burtenshaw Career Fund that supports the Burtenshaw Hospitality Career Night each semester. The career nights bring in approximately 50 hospitality recruiters to network with students for internships and jobs.
The lecture and career nights complement each other, says Amy Alonzo, SHBM’s industry relations manager responsible for producing them. Student attendees are encouraged to learn about the lecturer and recruiting companies before the events and come prepared with questions.
“When students can talk about themselves versus asking questions about the company, it allows the employer to get to know them and find the best fit for internships and jobs,” she says.
Henry Colvin (’19 HBM), a leasing consultant for a Seattle apartment company, credits the career night for his quick entry into the hospitality industry. “I met my first employer at career night and received a job right out of college,” he says. “Not only did I receive a great education within hospitality and hotel management, but I gained fundamental knowledge to excel in real estate and property management.”
Scholarship Turns Passion and Goals Into Realities
Jerry and Angelina also created the Calvin Brett Burtenshaw Memorial Scholarship Fund. Over the past ten years, $68,250 has been awarded to SHBM students. To date, 28 students have benefited from the Burtenshaws’ generosity, including Colvin, and Jack Costa, a student studying wine and beverage business management at WSU Tri-Cities.
“No amount of imaginative effort could fully express the gratitude I felt upon receiving the Burtenshaw scholarship,” Costa says. “The fact that a stranger wanted to help transform my passions and goals into reality is not only a blessing, but something beyond extraordinary.”
Claire Adams (’17 HBM) earned the scholarship twice, which allowed her to study abroad in Brig, Switzerland, for a semester at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland. She says the funding also enabled her to pursue other academic and professional development endeavors, including internships, becoming a student ambassador, and being part of a team that reestablished an SHBM etiquette dinner within the college. An internship with Marriott led to a career as an event manager and property administrator at the Seattle Marriott Redmond.
“I really can’t put into words how thankful I am. Earning the Burtenshaw lecture scholarship was a huge stepping stone for what I’ve been able to accomplish since graduating,” says Rachel Backsen (’17 HBM). She has been working for Hilton Hotels in Santa Barbara as a food and beverage manager in charge of a 40-person team across six different food and beverage outlets and recently moved to event management. “The support the hospitality program gave me has helped me grow my passion for hospitality more every day.”
The students’ comments make it clear just how much the Burtenshaws have impacted their lives professionally and personally, says Bob Harrington, SHBM director. “Jerry and Angelina continue to inspire others through their generosity and create a culture of giving back that will continue long into the future.”