Seasoned Entrepreneur Takes Over at SHA
Christopher Muller: hospitality is vital to humanity| From BU Today | By Caleb Daniloff
Christopher Muller, who assumes the helm of BU’s School of Hospitality Administration in August, is a fourth-generation restaurateur and an educator. Photo by Jutta Pfannschmidt-Wahl
Serving strangers is in Christopher Muller’s blood. His great-grandfather ran a restaurant in Brooklyn, his grandparents owned a delicatessen, his father worked as a butcher, and he managed a Carvel ice cream stand as a 16-year-old. But hospitality is much more than a living, Muller says — it binds our common humanity.
“Every one of the world’s great belief systems, from Hinduism to Confucius to the Bible to the Koran, have a generosity of spirit to others, and that’s something people need to realize is part of being human,” he says.
On August 16, Muller will take the helm of BU’s School of Hospitality Administration, which each year prepares some 400 students — in the classroom and in the field — for management positions in hotels, food service, travel and tourism, and entertainment. As the new dean, he will bring to the program a decidedly holistic approach — a mix of educational, entrepreneurial, and philosophical.
“I do harbor a favoritism toward entrepreneurial activity,” Muller says. “I firmly believe that until someone opens a business, nothing else happens. A good portion of hospitality education is creating a desire to own. When someone puts their name on the side of a building or takes that risk to establish themselves by adding value to the community by taking resources from one place and putting them in another, that’s a really positive thing.”
In 1999, Muller helped found the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which serves 2,700 students. Before that, he taught at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. He won Hospitality Teacher of the Year five times while at Cornell, and was Rosen’s Teacher of the Year in 2001.
BU President Robert A. Brown says he is looking forward to Muller’s arrival.
“Chris will bring to the School of Hospitality Administration enormous professional and creative energy,” says Brown. “He will advance the quality of the school’s undergraduate program, preparing our students for careers in industry while supporting the quality of their broader education."
David Campbell, University provost, singles out the new dean’s experience and vision.
“Christopher Muller brings a highly regarded professional career to BU’s School of Hospitality Administration,” says Campbell, “and a strong background in the academic side of hospitality administration. During his tenure at the University of Central Florida, he was instrumental in founding the Center for Multi-Unit Restaurant Management and in developing custom industry programs for executive education. I know his vision and creativity will enhance all of our programs in SHA and will serve to develop new opportunities for our students.”
Muller is no stranger to New England. As a wine manager in Beantown in the early 1980s he was a guest lecturer at SHA when it was just getting off the ground. He later ran eateries at Boston’s Quincy Market, in Stowe, Vt., and on Nantucket. He also owned a restaurant on Cape Cod.
“Boston was the center of my life for many years,” he says. “It’s where I got my start in hospitality in terms of management and ownership.”
Among his many entrepreneurial ventures, Muller opened the full-service neighborhood café Za Bistro! in Maitland, Fla. He also created the popular blog, Starters, for the trade publication Restaurant & Institutions Magazine. And each year, he moderates the European Foodservice Summit, Europe’s leading conference for international restaurant, supply, and food service executives, a forum he helped launch 10 years ago.
Muller earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hobart College in 1974 and a master’s, in 1985, and a Ph.D., in 1992, in hospitality management, both from Cornell University.
Because SHA’s outgoing dean, James Stamas, has successfully expanded and modernized the school over the past 15 years, Muller says, he anticipates a rewarding tenure at BU. “It’s not a turnaround situation,” he says. “The school is almost 30 years old and poised to grow. My task is to bring it the recognition it deserves.”