Howard Wurzak ’76 perfectly embodies the University of New Haven’s philosophy of learning by doing.
Raised in the Bronx and Queens, N.Y., Wurzak held two jobs while studying for his degree in hotel & restaurant management at UNH. Following graduation, he began working in the catering industry, eventually joining Hilton Hotels as a catering director. His passion for the industry led Wurzak to purchase a hotel and catering facility in New Jersey, and from there his real estate empire quickly began to expand.
Today Wurzak is president and CEO of the Wurzak Hotel Group in Philadelphia, which has developed $200 million in properties including the Westin Hotel in Mt. Laurel, N.J.; the Hilton Hotel and the Homewood Suites Hotel, both in Philadelphia; and the Clarion Hotel in King of Prussia, Pa. The company just began construction on a Sheraton Hotel in Valley Forge, Pa. His properties also include rental units and condominiums in greater Philadelphia and in Florida. As CEO, Wurzak actively oversees all aspects of property development and management.
“I spend a lot of time at the properties,” says Wurzak, who’s been known to pitch in with tasks ranging from architectural design to cutting vegetables in the kitchen. “I don’t believe in just letting other people run things. I want to see how everything’s going.”
Wurzak’s hand-on approach extends to his community work. He sits on the boards of Royal Bank America, the Jewish National Fund of Philadelphia, and the City Avenue Special Services District, a redevelopment effort he helped to create. He and his wife, Joann, chaired the National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association and the United Cerebral Palsy Organization.
Despite his busy schedule, Wurzak does find time to travel the world exploring various hotels and culinary experiences, which certainly blurs the line between work and pleasure.
He credits UNH for honing his insatiable work ethic.
“I worked my way through college, so I didn’t spend time enjoying the typical college life,” Wurzak says. “But UNH was a great experience and it helped me get to where I am today.”
Posted Spring 2011