Long-time Tulsa hospitality professional Tony Collins joins HTM faculty
Tulsa beverage manager and educator Tony Collins has been named the Naifeh and RNDC Director of the Wayne Hirst Center for Beverage Education at the Oklahoma State University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM). Collins brings nearly 20 years of experience with restaurants, craft breweries and special events, including consumer education and employee training, to the Stillwater campus.
A Tulsa native, Collins graduated from OSU in 2002 with a bachelor’s in English and from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009 with a master’s in business. He has worked for numerous restaurants and beverage venues in Tulsa and Oklahoma City including assisting with the opening of several well-known restaurants as beverage director. He is currently a wine educator and trainer for Vintage Wine Bar in Tulsa.
Collins, who will begin teaching classes in the fall semester, said many of his positions have included roles as an educator.
“Many of my previous careers have had an educational slant including the last five years with a restaurant group where I was beverage director and responsible for public educational events, onboarding new employees and preparing employees for things like the sommelier certification,” Collins said.
Collins takes over as only the second director of HTM’s beverage education center, which opened in 2016. The center develops curriculum and fosters research into one of the fastest-growing segments of the hospitality industry and is dedicated to exploring trends surrounding the inclusion of wine, craft beers, as well as fine teas and coffees into the business mix of restaurants and other venues.
“We are excited about Tony Collins joining the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and spearheading the beverage education curriculum that is already a differentiator of our undergraduate degree program,” said Dr. Li Miao, interim head of the school. “With his extensive beverage knowledge and professional experience, Tony will greatly enrich students’ classroom experience and experiential learning in beverage education.”
Collins said he believes providing HTM students with a broad educational experience that includes classes in beverage management is an important addition to their instruction even if they don’t plan to pursue it as a career. He said understanding the place of beverages in hospitality businesses means teaching students necessary skills like managing inventory and reading a profit and loss statement, but it also means more.
“(In hospitality and tourism) you need to have staff that understands beverages and can communicate that knowledge to customers,” he said. “I want to show students how great meals can be paired with a great glass of wine to show how they sing together. It spoke to me when I discovered those things at an early age and if I can help ignite that passion, that would be a big win.”
Another important part of the position will be working with students and sponsors in planning and implementing the school’s signature events like the Wine Forum of Oklahoma, the Craft Beer Forum of Oklahoma and the Distinguished Chefs Scholarship Benefit Series.
“An important component will be working with the school’s many events that provide students with educational and leadership opportunities and raise money for scholarships and other initiatives,” he said.
“In his role as the Naifeh and RNDC Director of the Wayne Hirst Center for Beverage Education, Tony will work closely with students, faculty, staff, industry partners and donors to build on our past successes in signature events such as the Wine Forum of Oklahoma and the Craft Beer Forum of Oklahoma and further elevate the events for an even more profound impact on a wide range of stakeholders,” Miao said.
To learn more about the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, visit https://business.okstate.edu/htm/index.html.
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