Recent SHM alumni have provided their alma mater with new student support options 

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – The School of Hospitality Management (SHM) in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development (HHD) has received a series of gifts from recent alumni, bolstering the support available to students. In the following months, this series will spotlight recent alumni who have decided to give back to their alma mater, supporting students following the path they helped to trailblaze.

As one of the longest-running hospitality programs in the nation, SHM equips students with the technical knowledge and interpersonal skills necessary to meet the needs of an ever-changing industry. Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Endowed Director and Associate Professor, School of Hospitality Management, explained, “The school provides a dynamic environment for students who learn from experienced faculty and participate in interactive learning that encourages the development of vital leadership skills. Donors are vital partners in supporting these opportunities, and gifts from recent alumni are especially meaningful affirmations of the value of the education we offer.”

The alumni featured in this series are all helping to make available the resources the school needs to sustain its longstanding priorities, including establishing scholarships, providing emergency aid to students who face unexpected crises, funding seed grants to get research off the ground and opening up internship opportunities. Through their philanthropy, these alumni are helping to ensure SHM will continue to innovate and produce industry leaders for years to come.

Dana Katz, a 2009 hotel, restaurant and institutional management graduate, and his wife, Madelaine Katz, recently made a gift to establish the School of Hospitality Management Engaged Learning Fund. The fund is designed to cover costs associated with SHM student internships and conferences, as well as other cocurricular activities. The fund will assist students with travel and lodging expenses, uniforms, supplies, and other needs associated with these real-world opportunities. “Engaged learning opportunities give students the chance to take skills they’ve developed in the classroom and apply them to the industries they aspire to join; however, the associated expenses often put these experiences out of reach,” said Quadri-Felitti. “SHM’s Engaged Learning Fund will help to defray these costs and ensure students can take advantage of every opportunity presented to them.”

Thanks to opportunities to travel as a child, Katz knew that he wanted to be involved in hospitality management from a young age. Katz currently works as a director of business intelligence at Host Hotels & Resorts and has devoted his career to the industry. The contacts he met while at Penn State have remained vital throughout his career. He said, “Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergrad were from club involvement and traveling across North America with my classmates while attending industry conferences. I’m still friends, and professionally connected, with many of these former classmates today.”

Katz graduated with an immediate understanding of how powerful the Penn State alumni network is. He credits much of his success to the relationships he made while at Penn State, saying, “Something I didn’t fully appreciate coming out of school was that the industry was very small. Every single career move I’ve made was due to connections I made professionally or at Penn State. Nearly a decade ago, I was looking for a new role, and I got a call from a former manager who recommended I pursue a career at my current organization. It ended up being a very impactful phone call and career decision.”

He is still heavily involved with his alma mater, both inside and outside the classroom. An active Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society member, Katz takes his role as an alumnus seriously, “I decided to get involved when I understood the impact it could have on students,” he said. “Whether it be via mentorship, helping to raise scholarship or programming funds, supporting engagement and fellowship or sharing what I’ve learned in my professional life with students in the classroom, I’ve found that involvement can be a fulfilling and constructive way to give back. It’s a reminder how powerful sustained alumni engagement can be.”

The Katz’ designed the fund to continue growing SHM’s extracurricular student engagement, but they also wanted to have a bit of fun while giving back. “My wife and I wanted to hit two birds with one stone,” said Katz. “We wanted to create an endowment to support student association involvement and industry conference attendance, and we wanted to have the only purpose-named restrooms in the Big 10. As far as we can tell, this gift accomplishes both purposes.”

“We both understand how non-scholastic involvement can positively shape a student’s experience and appreciate the role it plays in a meaningful career,” said Katz. “We also acknowledge that giving a memorable gift in an unconventional way may serve as an inspiration for others. The look on people’s faces when they hear my wife and I donated a bathroom, you can tell they’re thinking about how giving back can be done differently.”

Quadri-Felitti noted that the Katz’ philanthropy will have a lasting effect on the school, saying, “Dana and Madelaine’s gift inspires our entire community, faculty, staff, alumni, and students, not only because of their steadfast commitment to the school and Penn State, but because of their creativity and joy in the way they have given back.”

These contributions advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients, and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting

This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the philanthropy of recent SHM alumni. Click here to read more about the ways recent SHM graduates are supporting their alma mater.