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SAIT dean named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People

Tom BornhorstTom Bornhorst, Dean of SAIT's School of Hospitality and Tourism, has been named one of Alberta's 50 Most Influential People for 2015 by Alberta Venture magazine.

Venture has featured this list of provincial movers and shakers for the past 18 years. Those who make the grade are considered to have had an exceptional influence on Alberta in the past year. They come from all walks of life and all regions of the province, says Alberta Venture editor Michael Ganley.

"They're moving society in some way, making changes to the world," Ganley says. "Some are well-known names, but there are also lots of people many wouldn't know."

Bornhorst came to Venture's attention when magazine staffers were discussing the remarkable number of top chefs in Alberta, and why that might be.

"Someone mentioned SAIT," says Ganley. When the editorial team checked further with industry and saw the breadth and depth of SAIT's culinary programs, the man who heads them up quickly became a contender for the list.

Tom Bornhorst at the Downtown Culinary Campus

One of Tom Bornhorst's many achievements includes the opening of the downtown Culinary Campus in 2012

A reputation for excellence

With 1,200 students in seven full-time programs, and thousands more continuing education and corporate training learners, the School of Hospitality and Tourism has a profound impact both locally and further afield.

The school is widely acknowledged as one of the best in Canada and its innovations are frequently featured in Calgary's culinary media. Students, graduates and instructors have won numerous awards in national and international food competitions and they've secured positions with leading employers around the world.

Bornhorst says the honour is "incredibly humbling" and he's quick to credit SAIT's empowering climate for the accolade.

"SAIT creates an environment for people to thrive — students and staff alike," says Bornhorst. "You're encouraged to take risks here. Our team in Hospitality and Tourism strives to be an integral part of the community, and I believe that's what a post-secondary school should be — a hub, providing opportunities to elevate society through education."

A dean with vision

Bornhorst is himself a SAIT graduate (Hotel and Restaurant Management ‘86) who later earned an MBA and a Bachelor of Hotel and Tourism Management from the University of Calgary. His industry experience includes management positions with Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park and Banff's Buffalo Mountain Lodge.

Bornhorst joined SAIT as an instructor in 2000 and became dean in 2007. Under his leadership, achievements of the School of Hospitality and Tourism include:

  • Attracting world-renowned chefs to teaching positions
  • Opening of the downtown Culinary Campus
  • Fostering respect for the food value chain, including creation of a culinary garden and a bee colony on campus, and a wet waste recycling program that diverts thousands of tonnes from landfill disposal
  • Developing a Butchery and Charcuterie Management program that's unique in Canada
  • Establishing Destinations, a student-run travel service office for SAIT staff, students and alumni
  • Opening the Market Place retail outlet featuring baking, ready-to-go meals, fresh meats and more prepared by culinary students
  • Providing experiential learning where students will provide service to more than 350,000 guests this year
  • Delivering a prep cook program for people on the autism spectrum
  • Collaborating with United Way and Calgary's public and Catholic school divisions to offer an introductory cooking program for the "All In" for Youth initiative.

Engaging the SAIT community and beyond

The school's live classroom environments, including The Highwood restaurant and the 4-Nines dining centre, also distinguish SAIT's programs. Students and instructors from various culinary and hospitality programs work together, much as they can expect to do in the industry.

Students and staff are also involved in dozens of special events each year, from SAIT's President's Gala to HOSPO, a student-organized hospitality career event that this year featured 65 booths, 45 speakers and 800 student delegates.

"Our focus is on building teams," Bornhorst says.

Bornhorst is equally impassioned about giving back to the community. He chairs the Telus Convention Centre Board of Directors and serves on the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Municipal Directions Committee.

June 29, 2015

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