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PASSING DOWN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

Angelos and Betty Vlahakis and their two grown children, celebrating Vlahakis' 90th birthday

PASSING DOWN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

Angelos “Ange” Vlahakis (’51), who died in April of 2021 at the age of 93, was an MSU alumnus, an educator and a mentor who made a profound impact on the Broad College’s School of Hospitality Business over the course of his life and career.

He served on the School’s alumni board, helped reinvent the Hospitality Business internship program, launched a hospitality-specific Career Expo that has since helped countless students make career connections in the industry and, in 1991, founded the Student and Industry Resource Center in the School of Hospitality Business.

Perhaps his strongest impact was on the Spartans who graduated from the School in the 1980s. This set of alumni considered him to be a family-like mentor, and they were inspired to honor his role in their lives.

In 2012, they established the Angelos J. and Betty Yeotis Vlahakis SIRC Scholarship to recognize Ange and his wife. The scholarship assists current students in need of financial support to complete the School’s required internship program.

“Receiving the Angelos J. and Betty Yeotis Vlahakis Scholarship during my time in the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State has helped me in incredible ways. The scholarship assisted me in growing both academically and professionally,” says recent graduate Marina Beale (’20). “It reminds me that I have people that believe in me, that supported me as a student and helped my passion blossom… Thank you so much, Mr. and Mrs. Vlahakis. Your gift will never go unnoticed to me.”

In 2017, this dedicated group of alumni came together again from across the country to celebrate Vlahakis’s 90th birthday with him and his wife in East Lansing and to announce that the endowment had reached over $90,000. At the event, there was an outpouring of appreciation from alumni recalling how Vlahakis had impacted their time as Spartans.

angelos and betty vlahakis and alumni from the School of Hospitality Business

“Mr. Vlahakis met my parents and me at the door of Eppley Center, gave us a personal tour of the campus and his insight on the best hospitality program in the country,” says hospitality management alumnus Jeff White (’87), who is executive director of The Ohio State Faculty Club. “It was because of Mr. Vlahakis that I came to MSU. It was because of his drive and love for the university and the School that I have so many fond memories of the fourth floor of Eppley. And it is because of the internship program and the opportunities provided to me by Mr. Vlahakis and the entire faculty and staff of the School that I consider myself to be a successful club manager, restaurateur and family man today.”

Alumna Beth Perry (’88), a leadership coach and consultant at Perry Consulting, adds, “I had the great privilege to be his teaching assistant for the Introduction to the Hospitality Industry class and see firsthand the enthusiasm, commitment and pride that Mr. Vlahakis had for each student. He gave 110% to the students and inspired every person to make a difference.”

Vlahakis was just this kind of person, even days before he passed away—when he contacted Dr. Carl Borchgrevink, director of the School of Hospitality Business, to let him know that he wanted to make an estate gift to name a space within Student and Industry Resource Center. Borchgrevink visited Vlahakis at home and—in what would be the last interaction between Hospitality Business and one of its most ubiquitous champions—Vlahakis signed the papers, and the Angelos and Betty Vlahakis SIRC Director’s Office was made official. He died two days later.

Thanks to Vlahakis’s fervent leadership, the hospitality business student experience at MSU has been forever changed. His energy and guidance will be deeply missed, but his spirit will live on for Broad Spartans for generations to come.

Read more about Angelos Vlahakis and his impact on the School of Hospitality Business.

LEARN MORE about supporting the Eli Broad College of Business by contacting Sean Mulligan at mullig39@broad.msu.edu, or by calling 517-355-8504.