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February 2024 Experience Industry Management Newsletter

From Experience Industry Management Department Head to Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences: Meet Bill Hendricks

Written by: Jordan Lum, a second-year recreation, parks and tourism administration major with a concentration in event planning and experience management.

EIM Feb NewsletterInterim Dean Bill Hendricks, a fourth generation Californian, majored in recreation administration at Chico State, with an emphasis in parks and natural resources; interestingly, on a jazz music scholarship. His passion for the outdoors, music and sports fueled his academic and career interests. He returned to school to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Utah.

Prior to pursuing a career in higher education, Hendricks worked as a park ranger and as a ski instructor. Starting as a faculty member at Cal Poly in 1994, in 2000 he assumed the role of program coordinator for the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration (RPTA) program. He was named department head of the newly created department in 2009 and served in that role until he was appointed as a CAFES associate dean in 2020. He retired in 2022.

Reflecting on the 2016 rebranding of RPTA to Experience Industry Management (EIM), Hendricks highlighted the evolving landscape of the industry. The shift to EIM, he explained, allowed for a more encompassing focus, incorporating experience design, technology, non-profits, community organizations, hospitality, events, sports, recreation, tourism and destination management under one umbrella. He emphasized the department's uniqueness in providing students with a variety of career paths and post-graduation flexibility. Hendricks expressed pride in the growth of the EIM program, citing an increase in annual applications, enrollment growth, the launch of the Experience Innovation Lab and a significant increase in the number of faculty serving the students.

EIM Feb NewsletterAfter retiring in 2022, Hendricks embraced an active lifestyle, indulging in skiing, hiking, surfing, camping, travel and quality family time. However, a call to serve as interim dean of the college led him back to Cal Poly in January 2024. In this role, he is committed to seeing through projects initiated by Dean Emeritus Andrew Thulin, including planning of the Charles and Claire Jacobsen Animal Health Center and the Plant Sciences Complex, as well as planned enhancements to the Cal Poly Dairy and Creamery and reconstruction of Swanton Pacific Ranch. He also hopes to strengthen the synergies between agriculture and travel and tourism in California and aims to increase collaboration between the Experience Industry Management, Wine and Viticulture, and Food Science and Nutrition Departments.

Hendricks spoke passionately of the EIM Department's faculty and their dedication to student learning. He emphasized the atmosphere within the department, where faculty and staff support each other much like a family paving a strong support system for students engaged in Learn by Doing.

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Experience Industry Management Advisory Council Chair Sara Grauf Shares Her Insights

Sara Grauf, chair of the Experience Industry Management (EIM) Advisory Council, recently shared a few insights into the council's role, objectives and aspirations for the future of the department. Grauf, who is the senior vice president of event strategy and service for the San Francisco Giants, has been a dedicated member of the EIM Advisory Council for about a decade. She said was initially drawn to serve on the council by the caliber and talent of the students she encountered who graduated from Cal Poly’s EIM program.

EIM NewsletterThe advisory council is comprised of industry professionals deeply invested in student success, aiming to better equip them for the post-college experience industry. Grauf's first encounter with the Cal Poly program was when she coordinated a tour of the then AT&T Park in San Francisco for a group of Professor Brian Greenwood's students. Impressed, she joined the council, and has continued to be an active member as well as guest lecture various classes. For her, the most rewarding experience comes from directly mentoring students.

Grauf views the advisory council as a channel to best prepare students for the experience industry upon graduation. While primarily focused on student success, the council also provides faculty support such as equipping them with the technological tools needed to deliver top-notch curriculum. Grauf believes faculty connectivity is pivotal, leveraging their industry connections to provide students with insights through interactions that give students a “peek behind the curtain” of their future careers.

In a recent conversation about current industry trends and the challenges facing the experience industry, Grauf highlighted the impact of artificial intelligence. While acknowledging AI’s incredible capabilities, she stressed its limitation in understanding human behavior and the importance of fostering genuine connections. Additionally, she addressed the challenge of sustainability from a business perspective, emphasizing the need for solutions that benefit the world in the long term, with diversity, equity and inclusion playing a crucial role.

Grauf advocates for students to tap into opportunities locally, specifically within San Luis Obispo County. Encouraging connections within Cal Poly and fostering collaborations across various majors and colleges, she envisions tangible projects that EIM can actively contribute to, ultimately reducing entry barriers and increasing overall engagement.

The advisory council's success metrics, according to Grauf, include faculty and alumni engagement, overall participation, and, most importantly, student satisfaction. It's not solely about job placement but creating a lasting connection between students and the department, ensuring they feel valued and equipped with the right resources for success. Grauf appreciates the department's efforts to empower students and hopes to continue the impactful, Learn by Doing approach, fostering a more profound and personal connection to the world.

Lecturer Jenn Prentice, Now Teaching Full-Time, Embraces Role as Faculty Advisor of the Annual EIM Fundraiser

Lecturer Jenn Prentice, who has been with the department for 10 years, is now teaching full-time. When asked about this shift, Prentice spoke of the department's inclusivity, highlighting that while her duties within the department have expanded, the team treats students, faculty, and staff equally.

Prentice is now serving as the faculty advisor for the department’s annual fundraiser, which includes the Experience Industry Management (EIM) auction celebration set for Saturday, April 27, at Cal Poly’s Swanson Center of Effort Conference Hall. This year’s theme is Experience the Excellence. In addition to the auction celebration, Prentice and the student planning committee have created a full day of excitement, community and unique virtual and in-person experiences.

The EIM Fundraiser serves as the department’s primary method of funding student scholarships, research, travel, and learn by doing. EIM Advisory Council members, industry partners, parents and alumni are invited back to Cal Poly to witness the growth, changes and innovation within the department. Exemplifying the Learn by Doing motto, the event is led, directed and executed by students, with committees overseeing everything from event conceptualization and soliciting sponsorship, to risk management and vendor contracts.  

“Many of the companies that hire EIM students as interns or employees, say that they notice a difference in the skill set and event management knowledge that students who have served on the EIM fundraiser committee bring to their organization,” Prentice said.

Prentice, who knows the significant impact the event planning process has on students, works with alumni mentors to expand the learning opportunities for students. Brooke Campbell (Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration, ’17), owner of Brooke Nicole Events, a luxury wedding planning company in San Luis Obispo is currently working with students on this year's fundraiser.

“With Brooke’s leadership we have formed connections with new industry partners, like Draping by Kim, and Avenue Twelve, which are both amazing event rental companies in San Luis Obispo County. Both of those companies have graciously donated decor to our fundraiser and we are so grateful,” Prentice said. Catering for the auction celebration will be provided by Old SLO BBQ Co., which is owned by Cal Poly alumnus Matt Pearce (Civil Engineering, ’07) and Danae Pearce (Recreation, Parks, & Tourism, '09). Also in support, as Old SLO BBQ catering manager, alumnus, and previous EIM Fundraiser Committee member, Kevin Rubow (Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration, ’19).

Auction items include a two-night stay at MarFarm, a luxury vacation rental and event space in the heart of Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo. MarFarm’s owners, Hamish and Jill Marshall, also donated a Great Pyrenees puppy for auction, and plan to bring the whole litter to the event, as well.

In addition to the auction celebration, guests can attend a number of other events while they are in San Luis Obispo for the weekend, including a golf event at Swing Time on the Dairy Creek Golf Course, and a guided hike with EIM Professor Marni Goldenberg and EIM Associate Professor Keri Schwab. 

Cal Poly's Director of Dairy Product Technology, Carmen C. Lincoln-Cano, and Wine & Viticulture faculty Miguel Pedroza will lead the afternoon's cheese and wine pairing event. Stay tuned for details on each of these events, which will be held Saturday, April 27, prior to the start of the auction celebration at 5 p.m. “This year, in addition to the auction celebration, we are planning a full day of activities for people to attend. We want to showcase what EIM students can do across all of our concentrations — outdoor recreation, sport management, event planning, hospitality, and tourism,” Prentice said.

The ultimate goal of the Annual EIM Fundraiser is to raise funds for student professional development while showcasing the essence of what Experience Industry Management truly is. All proceeds from the auction celebration and supporting events contribute to student learning, student travel, and student research programs.

Buy your tickets for the event today. Interested in sponsoring the Annual EIM Fundraiser or have an item to donate to the auction?
Email Prentice at

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Professor Goldenberg Named a Fellow of the Academy of Leisure Sciences

Professor Marni Goldenberg (known by her students as Dr. G) was named a TALS Fellow by the Academy of Leisure Sciences on Feb. 1. The award is one of the most prestigious honors within the experience industry realm. TALS is dedicated to advancing intellectual discourse in leisure studies by comprehensively examining leisure's role in life across various domains such as recreation, parks, tourism, outdoor adventure, health, therapy and sports. During the three-day conference held in New Orleans, Goldenberg was recognized by EIM’s former department head and current College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Interim Dean Bill Hendricks. The conference also provided networking and educational experiences for attendees to engage with keynote speakers and participate in numerous educational sessions addressing emerging trends, social justice issues, as well as insight into what other fellows and colleagues are teaching at their universities.

While expressing profound gratitude and humility for receiving the award, Goldenberg underscored that her success would not have been possible without the unwavering support of her colleagues, friends, family and students. Hendricks nominated her to be a fellow, acknowledging her exceptional dedication and contributions to the field. Goldenberg emphasized that it's important to look at the bigger picture and that she wasn't the only person to receive this award - it honors her team who have been with her during her explorations, struggles and breakthroughs throughout the years to get her where she is now she said. "Recognize the collective effort; it takes an army of support and encouragement because we are not an island, but a community," Goldenberg said. To read more about the award, check out Professor Brian Greenwood's LinkedIn post.

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