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John Burdge brings more than 40 years experience in beverage education, distribution and sales, fine dining, special events and education to his role as Naifeh and RNDC Director of the Wayne Hirst Center for Beverage Education.

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management welcomes new director of beverage education center

Friday, August 18, 2023

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 |

John Burdge, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits general manager signature division, 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). Burdge brings more than 40 years of experience in beverage operations, distribution and sales, fine dining, special events, and education, to the Stillwater campus.

Burdge graduated from OSU in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in communication consultancy and again in 1999 with a master’s in hospitality administration. He began his career in Arizona at Glazer Distributors (now known as Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) as a sales consultant where he spent 10 years working with high volume and high-profile clients.

When Burdge came back to OSU to pursue a master’s he began teaching beverage education courses as a graduate assistant and then continued after graduation as an adjunct professor. Burdge then breached the fine dining industry when he served as general manager at a well-known Tulsa favorite where he managed all aspects of restaurant management including wine list development and beverage operations. He has spent the last 25 years with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits in various management roles where he directed sales, developed pricing structures, distribution plans, sales forecasts and marketing plans.

Throughout my tenure I've learned every facet of the job from commercial operations trade development, sales, along with my fine dining experience. I hope to take that experience and share it in an educational setting with HTM students,” Burdge said.

HTM’s beverage education center, which opened in 2016, serves to develop curriculum and foster 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 thrilled to have John Burdge as part of our team,” said Dr. Brij Thapa, Carl and Marilynn Thoma distinguished professor and head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “His extensive beverage knowledge, decades of professional experience and robust industry connections will be major assets to further propel our beverage management program. There are only a handful of degree-based university beverage management programs, and we aim to be a major leader to develop future professionals and leaders for career placement in the U.S. and globally." 

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.

“I'm really excited about carrying on the tradition of Wine Forum and continue to grow on that success,” Burdge said. “I specialize in fine wine particularly from California, France and Italy but I'm also very well versed in craft spirits. My connection to industry both in winery and restaurants should help facilitate elevating the event.”

Thapa echoes his sentiment and believes Burdge has the strategic forethought to develop this program to be even greater.

"We look forward to the implementation of his innovative vision and leadership as the Naifeh and RNDC Director of the Wayne Hirst Center for Beverage Education,” Thapa said. “The center has been successfully engaged in leading signature events such as the Wine Forum of Oklahoma, Craft Beer Forum of Oklahoma and associated events related to spirts education. We will leverage and enhance the existing events and be further aligned with additional programming to fulfill its land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach services within the broader context of the beverage business industry.” 

Visit the website to learn more about the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

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