The Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida is mourning the loss of its first-ever faculty member, Mr. Robert Ashley. Ashley, who taught foodservice education at UCF for nearly 30 years, passed away at the age of 65, on Friday , Oct. 19, 2012, after suffering fibrosis of the lung.

The college will host an on-campus memorial service in the Darden Auditorium this Thursday,  Oct. 25, from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. for students and faculty to attend. Ashley’s wife Donna and daughter Shannon will host a more intimate service for family, friends and faculty this Sunday, Oct. 28, from 4-6 p.m. in the college’s Disney Dining Room.

“Bob [Ashley] was the first employee I hired, and was instrumental in shaping what the college is today,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, Dean of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “He was also a friend, who was there with me through thick and thin. This is not just an institutional loss, but a personal loss, as well.”

Ashley, who never used a sick day while employed at UCF, was described by his colleagues as a dedicated educator and very passionate about his students.

His dedication and passion for teaching was recognized during the 1995-1996 academic year, when Ashley was named “Teacher of the Year” by UCF’s College of Business Administration. In 1999, Ashley was awarded the same title by the student chapter of the American Marketing Association at UCF.

In addition to teaching and developing UCF’s foodservice curriculum for nearly three decades, Ashley also published numerous articles in trade publications, consulted extensively, served as an expert witness in many legal cases, and co-wrote the “Understanding Prepared Foods” video for the American Culinary Federation.

Ashley’s business and management experience has been with the Marriott Corporation, United Airlines, and the Meals on Wheels Program in South Florida. The Certified Executive Chef also owned and operated two successful independent, full-service restaurants in Massachusetts and Florida.

The UCF Rosen College assistant professor also performed extensive volunteer work with the Florida Restaurant Association, which raises funds for student scholarships for Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts programs in the Central Florida area.

Ashley is an alumnus of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida International University.