HPU’s Event Management Program Receives Pinnacle Award for Fifth Year

Sep 29th, 2022

HPU’s Event Management Program Receives Pinnacle Award for Fifth Year

The High Point University program was again named the best bachelor’s degree in the industry.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 29, 2022 – High Point University’s event management program was named the best bachelor’s degree in the industry for 2020-2022. It was the fifth time the event management degree in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication won the Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Award for Best Event Management Bachelor’s Degree.

Drs. Brianna Clark and Jessica Wiitala, assistant professors of event management, and event management majors who are part of HPU’s student-run event club, Planning on Point, accepted the award during the International Festivals and Events Association conference in McAllen, Texas. The conference recognizes some of the world’s top festivals, events and educational programs.

HPU’s event management program won recognition for the number of students enrolled and graduated, alumni success, practical event experience required by the program and strength of the curriculum, including new Go Global Maymester Study Abroad event elective courses.

“There are four key areas of our program that make it distinctly unique and outstanding,” says Clark. “Our curriculum offers a comprehensive lens into the world of events, allowing students to achieve their specific goals and interests.”

The other key areas are:

-Professional development and internship requirements

-Values in teamwork and relationship building, creativity, resiliency and adaptability

-Experiential learning opportunities in classes, which utilize a project and team-based learning approach including a global student competition and a mentorship project. The Planning on Point Club offers workshops and certifications along with resources for students that include attending conferences.

“There are a number of internship and career opportunities in event management across different sectors,” says Wiitala. “For example, corporate events, community and nonprofit events, government events, festivals and more. Within each of these sectors there are numerous opportunities across countless industries that students may pursue.”

IFEA Award EMG Photo
Pictured are High Point University event management students. Front row from left are Camille Krauss, Sydney Sizemore, Carly Sokal and Katie Messick. Standing behind them are Dr. Brianna Clark (left) and Dr. Jessica Wiitala.

Katie Messick, a junior event management major and strategic communication minor who is the event coordinator of Planning on Point and vice president of Campus Activities Team, described attending IFEA as an inspiring opportunity. One of the highlights was standing with her professors and peers to receive the Hass & Wilkerson Pinnacle Award for Best Event Management Bachelor’s Degree.

“I’ve always known that High Point University had the best event management program because I’ve been able to see the amazing professionals it produces, but it was an entirely different feeling of pride and joy to stand before the best event managers and say that I study in the best event management program,” says Messick. “This program truly pushes you to be the best and gives you all the tools you need to exceed industry standards. We networked with so many amazing professionals, many of which have jobs we could only dream of.”

As one of the few event management programs to be housed in a School of Communication, the bachelor’s degree at HPU offers innovative courses and experiential learning to prepare students for successful and satisfying careers. In addition to their classwork, event management majors are also community partners who volunteer and intern more than 6,000 hours annually with local event-related organizations, facilities and nonprofits.

“We have two core communication courses that are required as a major in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, 12 core courses and one elective course through which students may select either fairs and festivals or meetings and conferences, allowing students to tailor their curriculum based on their interests in industry,” says Clark.

Winning any Pinnacle Award is an honor, says Dr. Ginny McDermott, dean of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication.

“Winning gold is the recognition of the care our faculty put into crafting curriculum that provides students the skills to excel. Winning gold for the fifth time is a testament to the personal investment the event management faculty make in each student and how our students, in turn, thrive in the program and in the industry. This award only makes the faculty and students want to work harder and achieve more.”

Graduates go on to produce events within the public, nonprofit and private sectors, including weddings, conferences, festivals, sporting events and concerts. They are also prepared to support events and festivals that occur in hospitality, leisure, recreation and corporate businesses.

HPU event management majors have landed notable internships including at the Masters of Augusta National, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Busch Gardens, Lenova, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Boston Harbor Hotel, Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and Starmount Forest Country Club. Recent graduates work in country clubs, wineries, botanical gardens, marketing and corporate organizations, Live Nation and sporting stadiums such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium.