Hospitality program celebrates $1-million donation, 50th anniversary | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Hospitality program celebrates $1-million donation, 50th anniversary

Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Gift agreement getting signed
Michel Eric Fournelle (left) and President Franco Vaccarino signing the gift agreement

The School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management at Lang celebrated two special milestones over the weekend during the University of Guelph’s annual Alumni Weekend.

Throughout the weekend, HAFA/HFTM alumni, faculty and staff celebrated the 50th anniversary of the U of G’s Bachelor of Commerce program and the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management. The weekend’s celebration included a reception at the Bullring, the HAFA/HFTM Gala Dinner in the Athletic Centre on Saturday night, and Sunday Brunch at PJ’s Restaurant. Among the alumni in attendance was the HAFA Class of 1973, the School’s very first graduates.

“Although some of the original HAFA courses are long gone, what hasn’t changed is the School’s success in developing future leaders for the hospitality industry,” said U of G President Franco Vaccarino, who addressed the crowd at the gala. “The School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management has grown immensely over the last fifty years, with 400 current undergraduate students, a strong co-op program, graduate degrees and over 5,000 alumni.”

At the gala dinner, the School announced an extraordinary $1-million gift from alumnus Michel Eric Fournelle (Hospitality and Food Administration, ’92) that will transform the School’s food lab, in Macdonald Institute, into a state-of-the-art active learning facility. At the request of Fournelle, the new lab will bear the name of U of G’s Food Laureate and mastermind behind the highly influential and successful Food Day Canada campaign, Anita Stewart.


The newly named Anita Stewart Alumni Food Laboratory will engage hospitality and nutrition students, teaching innovative practices in food preparation, production, safety and the science of food. They will be immersed in today's dynamic food culture and coached by some of Canada's great food thinkers as they prepare for their future careers.

 “The gift will have such positive and broad impact on student’s connection with and understanding of food, and its importance to health and society, it will truly be transformational”, says Statia Elliot, the School’s Director. “Thank you, Michel Eric.”

A highly successful real estate developer and noted philanthropist, Fournelle felt compelled to donate to the School after hearing of John F. Wood’s gift that renamed Lang’s entrepreneurship centre. “My experience as a student at the University of Guelph was wonderful and has had a big impact on my life – so I wanted to give something back”, says Fournelle. “U of G is Canada’s food university, so it seemed natural to support renovating the food laboratory and naming it in honour of Anita Stewart, who has done so much to advance Canada’s cuisine and food culture on the world stage.”

As president of the Fondation Famille, Fournelle has also taken a leading role in supporting important initiatives to help less privileged children in Quebec to have the hope of a better life, including a new care facility in Montreal.

Fournelle’s gift kicks off a fundraising campaign – Legacy 50 – to raise funds to boost transformational learning opportunities and facility upgrades for the School.

The School also unveiled its Heritage Room over the weekend, which honours the rich history of the hospitality school. The room includes donated artifacts from alumni, including a ’76 HAFA/UofG leather jacket, class photos and an archive of past editions of the Hornblower magazine, the School’s annual class publication.

Learn more about the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management at Lang.

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