PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s Hotel and Restaurant Administration Program is the only hospitality program in the West to recently receive a $10,000 gift from Seattle-based Westin Hotels & Resorts.
“The corporate sponsorship is intended to provide additional resources to students in the 65-year-old program through funding for scholarships or program enrichment,” says Juergen Bartels, Westin’s chairman and chief executive officer.
“Westin carefully selected the WSU program for its high-quality curriculum that delivers an enriched four-year, broad-based business education to its students. Westin has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with WSU, the ‘school of choice’ for many of our current executives and managers. It features a top-notch faculty dedicated to providing bright and promising young professionals to the industry. We have made similar contributions to two other top hotel schools — Michigan State University and Florida International University.”
RoJean DeChantal, vice president of human resources for Westin, and Diana Meisenhelter, Westin worldwide recruitment director, presented the $10,000 gift to WSU HRA Director W. Terry Umbreit in Seattle. DeChantal is a member of the WSU HRA advisory board. Meisenhelter recently visited the WSU main campus in Pullman to interview students.
“The history and reputation of the WSU HRA program tell us that this is a fine program from which to recruit potential Westin associates,” remarked Meisenhelter. “We see the relationship between Westin and college graduates as being mutually beneficial. Westin offers new college graduates opportunities for direct placement with a leader in the hospitality industry, while their fresh ideas, insights, and ways of looking at the world infuse Westin with new energy.”
“This generous gift is an expression of Westin’s commitment to educating professionals in hospitality,” says Umbreit. “Our students are the best, and they can earn their degrees in Pullman, in a cooperative program with Seattle Central Community College, or in Brig, Switzerland. We also require that they serve a 1,000-hour internship before graduating.”
The WSU HRA program has been gaining a strong national reputation. The Don I. Smith Chain Restaurant Management Conference, hosted by the program in March, draws top names to the WSU Pullman campus, which is located 75 miles southeast of Spokane. Career fairs at the school introduce students to potential employers throughout the nation and world. This year, nearly 60 undergraduates from the WSU program will enter the workforce armed with a business-based bachelor’s degree.
In 1997, Westin received the highest ranking in the Frequent Flyer magazine/J.D. Power and Associates “Domestic Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study – Upscale Hotel Chains,” and for the fourth consecutive year has been recognized as the #1 upscale hotel chain by readers of Business Travel News in its “Survey of Top Hotel Chains.” Additionally, Westin Hotels & Resorts is ranked among the top 90 multinational companies doing business in Asia according to the Far Eastern Economic Review’s fifth annual survey of corporate leadership.
Westin Hotels and Resorts is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., a hotel operating and management company whose shares are paired and trade together as a unit with Starwood Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: HOT).