Hospitality Management Department Partners with Chawla Hotels

Ownership and management group visits campus to meet faculty, staff and students

Shelley Walker (left), Chawla Hotels vice president of emerging brands and innovation, and Suresh Chawla (right), company president, chat with with UM student Madeleine Coleman during their campus visit to discuss internship and employment opportunities with the company’s two new hotels in the Mississippi Delta. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A new relationship has blossomed between the hospitality management program at the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences and Chawla Hotels Inc., an independent hotel ownership company.

Suresh Chawla, president of Chawla Hotels, and Shelley Walker, vice president of emerging brands and innovation, recently visited Cindy Choi, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management, and her NHM 361: Lodging 1 class to discuss internship and employment opportunities and updates on their two new hotels.

“It was very beneficial to my students because they were able to learn about the great features of (their two new hotels), the American IDEA and The Scion, as well as career opportunities with the company,” Choi said. “Their inspiring career advice will stay in (students’) minds for a long time.”

During the presentation, sophomore Trist Brower, of New Orleans, won $100.

“The prize was a $100 bill that was put in front of the class, and it was for demonstrating confidence and ‘going for it’ when you want something,” Brower said. “I learned that it is important to work hard to do what it takes to reach your goals.”

The Chawla representatives were impressed by students’ enthusiasm and positive attitude, as more than 30 students inquired about career advice, industry trends and details about the company’s new hotels. Following the presentation, students waited in line to ask Chawla and Walker additional questions and thank them for coming.

“(Ms. Walker and I) talked about how the new hotels were going to be a great economic development addition,” said Linda Stevenson, a senior from Carterville, Illinois. “They are supplying jobs for the local community and using resources that are around town versus the first searches that pop up on Google search.

“We discussed how great it was that they are putting women in manager positions and creating a more diverse work environment. It truly was such a great opportunity, being able to connect with two professional managers in the field I am studying.”

After the class visit, Chawla management met with Mary Roseman, program director for hospitality management; Jim Taylor, graduate program director for the online master’s degree in hospitality management; and Choi to discuss potential partnerships, including field trips, career fairs, on-campus interviews for hospitality management students and promoting the online master’s degrees to Chawla employees.

Chawla Hotels Inc. owns 18 properties across the Mississippi Delta. The two new hotels, The Scion and American IDEA Hotel, will be two of the first units under those brands in the world, and they are projected to open in 2019.

According to Visit Mississippi’s 2017 tourism and economic impact report, the travel and hospitality industry was responsible for producing $398 million in general fund revenues and $3 billion in labor income, stemming from approximately 90,000 jobs. Coahoma County was responsible for 945 of those jobs and $7.4 million in revenues.

For more information about the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, visit