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K-State Today

November 14, 2017

Hospitality management department names Ottenbacher new department head

Submitted by College of Human Ecology

Michael Ottenbacher

Following a national search, Michael Ottenbacher has been named department head of the hospitality management department and will be a Mary L. Vanier Endowed Professor. Ottenbacher will join K-State from Heilbronn University in Heilbronn, Germany, where he is a tenured professor in hospitality management and marketing.

"When I visited K-State, I was impressed by talented faculty and friendly and motivated students," Ottenbacher said. "Prior to coming, I knew that K-State had an excellent hospitality management department."

For the last eight years, Ottenbacher has taught strategic management, hospitality marketing, restaurant management, innovation management and entrepreneurship, lodging management, introduction to hospitality and tourism management. Ottenbacher has taught at San Diego State University in San Diego, California; University of Guelph in Guelph, Canada; University of Surrey in Guildford, United Kingdom; and the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His international exposure includes visiting professor engagements in Switzerland, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and France.

"From every country, I learned something about education and the hospitality industry — experiences I can pass on to students and faculty," Ottenbacher said. 

"With Dr. Ottenbacher's international experience, he will be able to offer our students a unique global perspective on the hospitality industry that can facilitate travel and study abroad opportunities to foster their own transformational experiences," said John Buckwalter, dean of the College of Human Ecology. "We are excited to have Dr. Ottenbacher in the college to help grow the capacity of the hospitality management department."

Before his life in academia, Ottenbacher had a wide and varied experience across Europe and the United States. He has served as a food and beverage manager and then a general manager for a four-star hotel in Germany, trained in management at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans, trained in front of the house operations at the exclusive Ritz Hotel in Paris and has held both management and staff positions in an assortment of hotels and restaurants in Germany and England.

After earning both bachelor's and master's degrees in hospitality management from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, Ottenbacher earned a doctorate from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His continuing research includes discovering innovation in hotels and restaurants, consumer behavior in restaurants, culinary tourism, and strategic management in the hospitality industry. Currently, he investigates satisfaction and loyalty behaviors of visitors of the Munich Oktoberfest and crowdfunding in the German restaurant sector.

K-State's hospitality management department, part of the College of Human Ecology, is ranked among the top 20 best hospitality programs in the U.S. The program offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees in hospitality management and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Management. 

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