In her new role, she will be responsible for creating and implementing a forward-looking vision for preparing students for careers in global hospitality. Throughout her 25-plus year career as a hospitality educator, she has been on the forefront of redefining education for an industry that continues to change rapidly.
“The hospitality industry is in the midst of continuing change driven by technology, globalization and branding,” Rach said. “The framework for the past can no longer define our educational outlook for the future. The hospitality educational curricula established a decade ago already are antiquated. Social media, for example, was barely a concept at the turn of the century. Today it plays a leading role in the way our industry markets itself. Those kinds of changes make this an extraordinarily and exhilarating time to be in hospitality education.”
Rach’s background includes leading some of the world’s top hospitality and tourism programs at the university level. She was the divisional dean of the New York University Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. During a 15-year tenure in that role, she transformed NYU’s programs in those areas, creating new undergraduate and graduate programs and attracting a global student enrollment while conducting a successful $30 million capital campaign.
She is the former dean of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration at the University of New Haven (Conn.) and was director of the tourism graduate program at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
“The opportunity to return to my home state and lead a dynamic hospitality program for the 21st century, along with the faculty and alumni, is extraordinary. I realize after three years away from administration that it is my passion and this is the right time and position for me," Rach said.
A Wisconsin native, she began her university teaching career at UW-Stout, earning Outstanding Teacher of the Year honors in her second year there.
“Lalia has an exceptional reputation in the hospitality industry both as an academic and innovation thought leader,” said Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen. “Our ability to attract such a highly regarded educator speaks volumes about the potential she sees in our School of Hospitality Leadership. This is one of the cornerstone undergraduate programs at UW-Stout, and I am convinced Lalia will transform an already solid program into one with even greater national and international acclaim.”
“Lalia brings to the School of Hospitality Leadership and to COM in general a wealth of experience and extensive industry connections,” said Abel Adekola, dean of the College of Management. “She also is very active in research and has delivered keynote speeches and seminars on a variety of consumer issues and perspectives. She has a tremendous skill set, and we are eager to have her get started.”
Rach literally grew up in the hospitality industry. Her grandmother owned and operated Eulalia's, a highly popular and successful restaurant in her hometown of Spring Green. Upon graduation from college, she landed her first hospitality job as a night auditor at a hotel. While working full-time, she earned a master’s degree in management and information systems before leaving to teach full time at the collegiate level.
Rach has published extensively, authoring book chapters and numerous articles and is a highly sought-after speaker. She is a current or former board member of a wide range of corporations and associations, including the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association, the Madison (Wis.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Mohegan Sun Hotel Board of Advisors, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Women Business Travelers Advisory Board, the Educational Institute (American Hotel & Lodging Association), NYC & Co., New York City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Travel and Tourism Research Association and The Society of Travel and Tourism Educators. She is a member of the Association of Travel Marketing Executives, the Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Educators, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and Meeting Planners International.
Rach maintains a hands-on role in the “real world” of the hospitality industry as a founder and partner of Rach Enterprises, a consulting firm that provides strategic guidance to hospitality businesses and public sector agencies in the area of economic development, strategic planning, brand management and customer service.
The School of Hospitality Leadership gives students an expansive educational experience that prepares them for leadership and management opportunities. Students receive individualized attention and mentoring and work closely with innovative, industry-recognized faculty in classrooms, labs and with companies throughout the U.S. For more information, go to the school website.
UW-Stout prepares students for productive careers in industry, commerce, education and human services through the study of applied mathematics and science, art, business, industrial management, human behavior, family and consumer sciences, and manufacturing-related engineering and technologies. Founded in 1891, it was the first university to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for its history of excellence in higher education. UW-Stout has more than 9,200 students, 44 undergraduate programs and 19 graduate programs.