From One Blossom…
A Tribute to Professor Emeritus
from Emeritus Professor Joe Goldblatt
During Christmas time each year, millions of people worldwide will see the film entitled “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In this brilliant now classic story, a small town banker named George Bailey feels that his life is a failure and plans to take his life when he mysteriously discovers how different and much poorer the world would have been without his special, unique and indispensable life.
Professor Patti Shock was fortunate, I believe in knowing that her special, unique and indeed indispensable life greatly improved, enhanced, enchanted and inspired the lives of thousands of students and colleagues.
I first met the human dynamo of an educator known as Professor Patti Shock at a National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) meeting over thirty years ago. At that time Patti had just accepted a teaching appointment in Georgia at the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at George State University in Atlanta and she quickly rose to become the leader of this highly well respected programme.
In those days the NACE social events were quite “jolly” and Patti was usually the last person to leave the dinner. I was introduced to Patti by the late and great NACE president Brent Ashton who whispered to me conspiratorially, “Joe, there is someone you must meet.” With that, a friendship of three decades blossomed.
When Patti was recruited to lead the meetings, exhibitions and events programme at the William Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV), I immediately knew that this seasoned hospitality professional would be in a position to literally change the entire industry through the graduates that she produced. And indeed she did.
Her graduates or blossoms now include Deans of other major Hospitality education programmes, chief executives of international hospitality organisations and many other triumphs. Suffice to say, at UNLV Patti and her colleagues transformed the emergent hospitality of the 1950’s industry into a twentieth century profession of choice through their exemplary teaching and world leading research.
The renowned philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey once wrote
“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” Whilst Patti did not invent action research nor practical learning experiences, she was one of the first educators to recognize that this element of higher education was vital and essential to producing the highest level of graduates.
Through her extensive network of highly placed contacts she was able to and often did telephone or send an e-mail to an industry giant whilst a student stood, sometimes trembling, in her office and soon, as if by the wave of her fairy godmother magic wand, the student’s life was changed for the better.
One time during a meeting with Patti and her team at UNLV, one of her colleagues slipped her a note telling her that a famous entertainment producer from Nashville was standing in the hallway. Patti literally rose from her chair as if a rocket was about to enter the stratosphere. She returned a few minutes later smiling like the Cheshire cat, clapped her hands loudly and announced with gusto “Two internships!” Few could achieve so much in such a short time.
Dewey also wrote “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.” Indeed, the art and science of hospitality has been dramatically and permanently improved through the scholarship, teaching and leadership of my friend Professor Patti Shock.
Therefore, I am comforted that although I grieve for what has been taken from me in the loss of this wonderful friend I also know that in some small way she must have realized that her life brought joy and success to many other lives during her time with us.
While George Bailey at first thought his life was a failure, an angel wrote to George in the closing scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings,
It may also be now said by thousands of Patti’s students, colleagues and friends, including me…
We know that you had a wonderful life because we feel our wings
and see the many blossoms.
Love, Your Admirers.