PULLMAN, Wash. — Denney Rutherford, a Pullman native, has been named the Ivar B. Haglund Distinguished Professor of Hotel and Restaurant Administration at Washington State University’s College of Business and Economics.
Rutherford will be the Hotel and Restaurant Administration (HRA) program’s lead scholar, providing research and service to the hospitality academic and industry communities, says W. Terry Umbreit, HRA director. He will participate in national and international conferences to help shape the future of research to benefit industry practices, and assist in the development of effective teaching methodologies.
“Professor Rutherford is one of the preeminent scholars in the hospitality field and is well respected by his peers for his research and service contributions,” Umbreit says. “Over a significant period of time, his efforts have resulted in our HRA program gaining national stature, and he has helped shape the hospitality education profession. It is fitting that he be rewarded this distinguished recognition for his tireless efforts to improve hospitality’s research and educational quality.”
The distinguished professorship is supported by funds from the bequest of restaurateur Ivar Haglund, founder of Seattle’s Ivar’s Acres of Clams, who died in 1985, leaving half of his multi-million dollar estate to support the WSU HRA program. The first holder of this professorship, Lothar Kreck, retired from the HRA program in the spring. Umbreit says he expects that Rutherford will carry on the “fine academic traditions established by Dr. Kreck.”
“The Haglund professorship is a great honor,” says Rutherford. “I had met Ivar Haglund and tremendously respected his contributions to the hospitality industry. In his honor, I’d like to become a better educator for my students, a better researcher for my college and industry, and increase my service to the state and its citizens.
“I don’t view myself as ‘distinguished,’ but I know I’m very fortunate to be part of a ‘distinguished HRA program’ at WSU, ” he said.
The award is the latest added to a long list of academic and professional achievements during Rutherford’s 31-year career in hospitality. Before entering academia, Rutherford spent several years gaining firsthand experience in hotel, beverage, lodging, group sales and restaurant management. One assignment allowed him to seek grant funding to develop a program to train disabled workers in marketable food service skills.
Rutherford earned his doctoral and master’s degrees at the University of Washington. He received his undergraduate degree in hotel administration and liberal arts from WSU.
In September 1970, he began his academic career as an instructor. He taught at the WSU Seattle Center for Hotel and Restaurant Administration from 1979 until 1993, when he returned to the Pullman campus. He became a full professor in 1992.
Currently, Rutherford is an invited member of a research alliance begun by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association. He is leader of a team to study government regulations and effects on hotel human resources processes.
He is also chair of the publications committee of the Council on Hotel and Restaurant Institutional Education. He and his wife, Sandy Sweeney, established, support and are working to endow a fund in HRA created to honor Jerry and Kristi Schei, friends killed in a winter small plane crash while en route to an Apple Cup game in Pullman.

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