Published on 12/17/21

Benson's Hospitality Group establishes scholarship for hospitality students at UGA

By Maria M. Lameiras
HFIM student Olivia Nix
The Benson's Hospitality Scholarship will benefit undergraduate students in the hospitality and food industry management major like Olivia Nix, who worked as an intern at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

A new scholarship established by University of Georgia alumnus-founded Benson’s Hospitality Group will benefit students enrolled in the hospitality and food industry management major in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

The program, which opened to first-year and transfer students in fall 2019, is already the fifth largest undergraduate major in the college and has consistently outpaced projected growth since it was launched, said John Salazar, program head and associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at CAES.

“The generous support of Benson’s Hospitality Group will not only benefit students pursuing a degree in hospitality and food industry management, but by preparing them as future leaders will also strengthen the industry that Benson’s Hospitality has grown into a cornerstone of the Athens area,” Salazar said. “We appreciate their partnership and the example of success they set for our current and future students.”

The annual scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate student — rising sophomore through rising senior — majoring in hospitality and food industry management and is the first corporate-sponsored academic scholarship established for hospitality students.

Benson’s Hospitality Group is a subsidiary of Benson’s Inc. and operates five hotels in the Athens area, as well as Benson’s Bakery, which was founded in 1918 by the late W. H. “Howard” Benson. Howard Benson’s son, the late Ed Benson, graduated from the UGA Terry College of Business in 1942 and took over the company from his dad in 1958, diversifying the company into the hospitality business.

The company is now led by CEO and Chairman Larry Benson, a 1974 Terry graduate who has grown the business to include an expansion of the company’s baking facility and the construction of three new hotels.

“Benson’s Hospitality Group is honored to partner with the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in support of the new hospitality and food industry management major,” said David Dukes, senior vice president of Benson’s Hospitality Group. “Our business model is built around providing excellent guest service, so investing in student education and development is the cornerstone of our future.”

Previous gifts from Benson’s Inc. have benefitted Terry College of Business, the School of Public and International Affairs, the UGA Athletic Association, and the Benson White Coat Support Fund for the university’s medical school partnership with Augusta University. The business school’s Benson Hall is named for the late W.H., Ed and Larry Benson. In 2018, Ed and Larry Benson were honored with the 2018 Family of the Year Award by the UGA Alumni Association.

Maria M. Lameiras is a managing editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.